For this year’s gnome summit I decided to attend. I wanted to see what was going on and keep in touch with various people in the FOSS community. While I’m not a gnome hacker myself, I have made gnome apps, plugins and know some of the people working on new things.
So interesting things I learned at this summit, firstly I’d like to appologise because my sleeping pattern went wrong this weekend so I didn’t attend as many of the summit sessions as I wanted. But the session about Gnome Shell was interesting and it’s good to see people working on things that scratch their itches.
Gnome Shell, looks very cool but need more time to finish, it does require GLX so older computers without 3DFX will probably not be able to use Gnome Shell at all. Hopefully when Ubuntu M comes out we’ll have figured out a way to keep the support for older P4 computers that we use for refurbishing here.
Miguel de Icaza was there on Saturday and while I didn’t at first recognise him, I think he may have recognised me. So while we got into an argument about the relevance of mono’s moonlight implementation without the Microsoft PlaySure DRM components (i.e. Netflix), he did at least give me a hug and appologise for calling me a douche later. So we can all have ideologically different perspectives and still be human beings.
Fedora, there were some people from Fredora/Red Hat there and there was some very interesting casual conversations about the perspective that the Hat communities have on the Ubuntu community. They are disappointed with the level of respect that upstreams get from Canonical and by extension the Ubuntu community.
Communities seem to be a really strong theme for a few people. I think the Ubuntu LoCo community is showing up the more programmer centric communities as we’re not able to program but we are able to interact with none technical people, organise events and advocate for Free and Open Source Software in a much bigger way than Gnome, Fedora or others. I think some of these projects may spawn community projects of their own, and when they do I will look forward to working with those groups in my area.
Ubuntu had a showing at the Gnome Summit, there was a handful of people from Canonical Desktop Experience team there (2 or 3) and there was me from the community, but other than that it was a fairly anti-Ubuntu crowd. I got criticised for being naive that I was spending my time working for Canonical for free (Ubuntu and Canonical are the same thing apparently) and that the Red Hat guys couldn’t understand why anyone would want to work on Ubuntu at all, since Canonical is playing silly bastards with upstreams.
I think this backlash is coming from the notify-osd interaction, the fact that patches are not welcome downstream and that Canonical folks have been rumoured to have been instructed by Mark Shuttleworth to not engaged in upstreams at all. There is a deep mistrust of Mark and Canonical, their motives and their methods, some warranted, others based on hearsay and political culture (pure capitalists don’t like companies to not have shares apparently).
The gnome fear is that Ubuntu will completely fork Gnome, or will have to because of all the modifications which are being either hidden from upstreams or are diverging from any sort of consensus. The perception of arrogance of both emerging camps and how they’re moving forwards is interesting.
There was an interesting argument that went along the lines of “There is a finite number of developers, if all the really good ubuntu developers are all hired by Canonical and Canonical starts to go in a direction that the community doesn’t want to follow in, even if it’s possible to fork, where will the talent come from to maintain it?”. It was an interesting hypothetical situation.
Now I’m not totally convinced of everything I’ve reported here, so don’t comment to me about how wrong I am to listen to obviously biased sources. I’m reporting it because it’s interesting and like all human conflict can be put out of perspective very easily. Take these casual observations with a grain or two of salt, because I don’t think the FOSS world is about to break apart in any major way.