A response to the cacophony

There’s a layer of truth to some of what Murray has said, but his shockingly exaggerated, hateful message is not intended to resolve or heal. Murray does not accept or credit my commitment or contributions to the project, and he has sought to denigrate, disenfranchise and discredit me consistently over the years… though this is obviously the loudest and most hurtful attempt.

I am totally comfortable admitting my flaws and mistakes. I have made plenty. There are some issues raised in Murray’s post that have been noted before and that I’ve accepted. I will seek to resolve these soon, because they are important to me and the project I love. Of course, resolving these issues did not require such hatefulness, but that is a property of the dysfunctional relationship on display.

Despite that relationship, I have great respect and appreciation for Murray’s contributions to GNOME, and have tried to reach out an olive branch to him on numerous occasions. It has never been received kindly. I thought that after the issues we faced earlier this year, we could settle into a quiet detente, and not bother each other. But the armistice was broken, and it was not to be.

It is clear that neither of us are in a position to productively work together.

I am unlikely to make any further comment on Murray’s attacks. I just don’t think there’s a positive resolution to aim for here.

Thanks to those who have voiced support, it means a lot to me.

Retractions?

Some folks have suggested that Murray should retract his comments. He shouldn’t. That is what he feels, that is how he chose to express it, and he is old enough to be accountable and responsible for his freedom of expression. It’s his blog. They’re his words. I created Planet GNOME as a public arena, for the community to share, and this is an entirely valid expression for it. Voltaire would be rolling in his grave!

Mental Health

Meanwhile, I don’t want to bring on the violins or anything, but I’ve written earlier in the year about my depression. Although it’s impossible to pin down any one thing that leads to an episode, contributing factors can be identified.

Sadly, in this case, Murray’s attacks on me around that time were a contributing factor to my mental stress and state of mind, and had an impact on my work in GNOME, not to mention my relationships, business, etc.

I raise this because there is a very important point to be made: Despite ongoing stigma in some communities, depression is not at all like “psychosis”. This is a very nasty association. As a school counsellor once told me, “it’s not bad, it’s just sad”. Cutesy, but you get the idea.

So if you’re reading this, and you are feeling ongoing sadness, despair, a lack motivation or satisfaction in your everyday life, ignore any stigma and please see someone about it.

I’ve been going through a very rough patch over the last few weeks — thanks again to Pia, who weathers through my storms and sleet — and I need to do the same thing, probably more so after this.

It’s the only way to help yourself, and the saddest things happen when people don’t get help.

Finally

Read the post, make up your own mind, and vote accordingly. :-)

(Oh, and happy Movember!)

GNOME and Novell: The FUD Stops Here

As a result of some confusion (and sadly, some very active, ugly and offensive muck-raking) in various sections of the community recently, I thought it might be interesting to do a review of GNOME’s relationship with Novell and some of the people involved in that relationship.

Due to my position as a director of the GNOME Foundation, it’s important to point out that this post represents my personal views, not those of the Foundation.

Novell and the GNOME Foundation

Novell is a member of the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board, along with most of the other companies that play a role in the GNOME community (see the ‘sponsors’ section on the front page of the GNOME Foundation website).

Like the GNOME Foundation itself, the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board does not define the technical goals of the project. Additionally, it does not have an executive role in the operation of the Foundation.

As it says on the box, the Advisory Board exists purely to serve an advisory function to keep the GNOME Foundation directors in touch with our corporate (be they commercial or non-profit) contributors.

The GNOME Foundation seeks to be a conduit between the commercial interests in GNOME and the broader community, and the Advisory Board plays a crucial role in this mission.

Membership of the Advisory Board involves an annual financial contribution to the GNOME Foundation of USD$10,000 for companies of Novell’s size.

Aside from sponsorship of GNOME events such as GUADEC, Novell’s (and previously, Ximian’s) financial contribution has not changed since they were a founding member of the GNOME Foundation.

The only positive irregularity in their financial contribution was in 2003-2004 when Novell sponsored an experimental set of GNOME “desktop integration” bounties run by the GNOME Foundation. For the conspiracy theorists out there, do note that this was before OOXML and before Novell’s relationship with Microsoft. :-)

There are no Novell employees among the 2007 team of GNOME Foundation directors, and no Novell employees standing for the 2008 term.

Novell representatives have been absent without regrets for every GNOME Foundation Advisory Board conference call held this year, though JP Rosevar (desktop team lead at Novell) did participate in the face-to-face Advisory Board meeting at GUADEC.

The GNOME Foundation greatly appreciates Novell’s financial contributions in the form of Advisory Board fees and sponsorship of events, and enjoys Novell’s participation in the Advisory Board when they are active… I’m sure a Novell representative will be present at next Friday’s Advisory Board conference call!

Juuuuuuust to make sure this point is totally clear, I’ll reiterate that Novell’s financial contribution does not provide them with any technical or organisational influence over the GNOME Foundation or the GNOME community in general. Got it? Good. Let’s move on! :-)

Novell contributions to GNOME

Novell continues to contribute to the GNOME project in many ways, including maintainership of software like Evolution and the Control Center, contributions to Network Manager, making OpenOffice.org integrate nicely with GNOME, all of the Mono-based applications such as Tomboy, F-Spot, Banshee and Beagle, bug fixing and performance work, and plenty of other stuff. They’re active upstream, quietly doing “the usual work” all the time.

Sadly, many of the bright lights of the Novell desktop team — such as Jon, Rob, Joe and others — have moved on to other companies, often to positions that don’t involve GNOME development.

This is a huge loss to our community, and I do think that their feelings of disenfranchisement among their “home” community have directly contributed to this.

It seems to be that if you work for Novell, no matter what role or opinion you hold or how irrelevant you are to the strategic choices of the company, you’re going to suffer a lot of crap for them anyway. I think that’s a terribly unfortunate state of affairs for the FLOSS community, but I understand why it happens.

Like any company/community relationship, there are ups and downs. But in general, the GNOME community has a long-standing positive relationship with contributors within Novell, and we love working with them. They hack on a whole bunch of cool things and make GNOME better in the process. Whatever our disagreements, we agree on the core values and vision of GNOME: Software Freedom is not just for geeks!

Miguel and GNOME

Miguel does not play an active role in the GNOME community, and hasn’t done so for quite some time now. He was a director of the Foundation for the last time in 2005.

Miguel is still a member of the GNOME Foundation, as our members have the option to continue their membership regardless of their current activity in the project.

We think this is an important way to show our appreciation for past contributors, and keep them around to encourage their return or enjoy the benefit of their wisdom should they choose to bestow it. A good example of this would be Alan Cox smacking me around at every opportunity. :-)

Interestingly, Miguel was actually the President of the GNOME Foundation until only a few weeks ago, but we have been asking him for years to send a resignation letter, and recently nailed down a plan to finally get his resignation and appoint the President and Vice-President from the directors. As of the last Foundation Board meeting, that process is complete.

It’s important to point out that during this time, the Foundation Chairman was capably performing the role of President, and Miguel was not participating or interacting in GNOME Foundation activities or administration at all.

Despite his inactivity in the project, Miguel is often the source of some controversy among GNOME contributors. My reading of the project suggests that few of Miguel’s opinions are shared by the majority of active GNOME contributors, particularly those regarding Mono, OOXML, Moonlight and the Novell/Microsoft relationship.

Update: Note that I’m sure Miguel regards his work on Mono and the excellent GNOME bindings for it as a contribution to GNOME — certainly the platform has resulted in a bunch of great GNOME-based applications. However, as a result of the walls of controversy between GNOME and Mono (which I cover in more detail below), I’m not sure a broad majority of the project would see Miguel’s work on Mono in this light. This is just my reading of the community though, and I know there is a good base of Mono fans among GNOME developers. I’m really trying to be sensitive to both sides of the issue here, but I might have annoyed both audiences in the process. Sorry. :-)

In some cases, Miguel is seen as an oddity or object of amusement, who has lost pretty much all of his influence among GNOME contributors, new or old. Indeed, as far back as 2002, Miguel did not receive enough support in the GNOME Foundation election to be among the top five vote recipients.

(I’m sorry if this seems blunt, but I think it clearly demonstrates Miguel’s long-term waning influence on the GNOME project in the face of FUD and misinformation about his intent and involvement. Miguel shouldn’t be held responsible for GNOME, and GNOME shouldn’t be held responsible for Miguel.)

But there is something that will never change among GNOME developers: Miguel is still highly respected for founding GNOME, and his massive early contributions. He had the vision and energy to create a truly Free desktop environment under trying circumstances, and although he is no longer involved, and popular opinion about him has changed, he will always have our utmost appreciation and respect for creating the project we love: GNOME.

Talking with Nat

I sat down with Nat Friedman at GUADEC in order to talk about a few things that were on my mind regarding Novell and GNOME. I had a very clear three-point agenda that I wanted to go through:

  1. The relationship and agreement with Microsoft.
  2. Novell’s approach to feature development and ‘code dumping’.
  3. GNOME and Mono.

We didn’t end up talking about the first two points, because Nat was extremely focused on the Mono issue, and whichever way I tried to lead him through my thought narrative, it would quickly come back to Mono.

I don’t really fault him for this: It was clearly his number one concern.

One of the things he described was the “bunker mentality” of some of the GNOME hackers in Novell — the controversy about Mono and the constant questioning of their motives was having a huge impact on their passion for contributing to the project.

Other members of the team, even those not working on Mono related stuff, were feeling the same thing. They felt as if they were constantly under attack, and quite legitimately so.

I imagine some folks outside the GNOME project won’t feel too much sympathy here, but those Novell hackers are our friends and team-mates, no matter what our disagreements might be with their management!

We didn’t get to talk about the other stuff (and I’d love to catch up again to do so, I haven’t seen him for ages), but I thought Nat’s concerns about how Novell’s hackers feel was an important perspective to include in this document.

Sometimes, it’s easy for us all to forget that there are people behind the email addresses, behind the nicks, and behind the company names.

GNOME and Mono

I’ve mentioned this a little bit here, but I’m going to leave the bulk of my commentary about GNOME and Mono for another post.

Questions?

The comments are open, and I’ll happily answer any questions about GNOME, the GNOME Foundation, and our relationship with Novell. Perhaps some Novell folks will contribute some other perspectives too.

Quelle surprise?

Quelle surprise?

Federico, you might be learning the wrong lesson from this story, or possibly seeing only the Nail du Jour?

You don’t need a distributed revision control system to do the right thing by the communities who power your products.

If Novell had done this work upstream in the first place, it would have saved everyone a lot of time, effort and community patience — including Novell.

Update: Despite already receiving a correction from Matthias, Federico implies that the gnome-panel changes were made after intlclock. Sadly, the gnome-panel changes were made before anyone in the community had access to intlclock at all. It’s unfortunate that we found out about such a worthy change to the basic GNOME desktop experience by finding it in a SuSE screenshot.

Recommended election listening

Here’s a listening suggestion for Saturday, November 24th, 2007: Powderfinger’s 1998 platinum release, Internationalist. Put the album on, open the windows, and crank it up!

Vision is rejected, the peoples choice is tested
So ignorance has won
Children are infected, remedy suggested
Dont drink from poison cup
Overpopulation, media sensations
The damage has been done

Powderfinger: Internationalist

links for 2007-11-18

John Howard, facing * defeat

You shouldn’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched, but you can definitely count your Google hits before election day.

We’re having what we’ve called an “election party/wake” next Saturday, but if the consistency of the polls over the last twelve months (and more recently) is anything to go by, there’ll be more chardonnay than tears at the Waugh household.

Howard and Costello

Here are some of the most popular adjectives used to describe what John Howard and the Liberal Party are facing on Saturday, linked to the search results that mention them (check my guide to Australian politics for Americans if you’re wondering why we’re toasting a “Liberal” defeat).

Regardless of all the polls, betting odds, embarrassing campaign screw-ups, flagging morale of conservative opinion writers and radio jocks, or nerdy enthusiasm of the progressive number-crunchers: Labor still has a fight on its hands.

It’s the last week of the campaign — when anything can happen — and the electoral statistics are no better now than when they were described as “impossible” six months ago.

Maybe I’ll wear black shoes, just in case.

QoTD: Bill Hilf

“When people buy commercial software, really what they’re buying is a guarantee. You’re buying a guarantee that what you have will perform, and has been tested and there’s someone you can call up, and if things go really bad someone’s liable if something doesn’t work.”Microsoft’s Bill Hilf Reveals Its Open Source Strategy

Of course, when Hilf says “commercial”, he really means “proprietary”, or he’d be supporting the awesome commercial efforts of so many FLOSS companies around the world, who not only provide great support (as a fundamentally necessary part of their business model!) and a throat to choke, but give you the freedom to find support elsewhere.

From what I’m seeing in the market, every month there are fewer and fewer ICT decision makers who are being hoodwinked by lies like these — and this time, as a direct quote from Bill Hilf, who is now Microsoft’s general manager of Windows Server marketing and platform strategy.

links for 2007-11-17

Update: It has been pointed out by helpful commenters that my Google-assisted Spanish is shockingly bad. Touché. ¿Soy caliente busca mi maestro español? Something like that. ;-)

Update: Xan notes there’s a crucial problem in the previous sentence that could get me into trouble, and suggests: Estoy buscando a mi cachonda profesora de español. Thanks, Xan!

links for 2007-11-16

  • “After resisting for a long time, I’ve finally committed to do a bit of blogging for the last week of the campaign.” — Antony Green, whose mere presence makes the Australian electoral season so great, starts blogging.
  • A retread of the OS X user interface built with GNOME desktop components. Utterly bizarre, but demonstrates the flexibility of GNOME and how a bit of work can result in some great theme effects.
    (tags: gnome macosx)