Letter from the Executive Director
Hello GNOME Lovers!
GNOME's goal is to bring free and open source computing to everyone regardless of ability. I consider myself extremely lucky to have joined the project as executive director of the GNOME Foundation. It's a pleasure and a privilege to work with thousands of people dedicated to making free software available for everyone on desktops and mobile platforms. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that GNOME technology is changing the world for many from smart phone users to kids using XO's.
At my very first GUADEC in 2001, I was greeted with "YOU'RE A GIRL!" This was shouted across a huge auditorium. Then when we went around the room and introduced ourselves one by one, everyone applauded - for each person. From day one I was part of the community, and I was in no way unique. The GNOME community continues to not only welcome new members but to actively seek them out and to invite them to come play. (Actually, I felt welcome from day -1, as I met a bunch of guys on the plane who turned out to also be going to GUADEC. I spent my first day in Copenhagen walking around with some guys from Red Hat and Eazel trying to stay awake through jetlag. I remember Havoc Pennington saying we just had to stay awake until dinner time.)
One of the most common questions I get asked is why did you take this job? I took this job because I love the people and mission of the GNOME community. The spirit and dedication of the GNOME community to their goals of creating a free and open source software desktop and their commitment to having fun and welcoming everyone is unparalleled. What is often seen as idealistic sits well with me - we are here to change the world. And we are doing that everyday. People are using free and open source software around the world, from the big enterprises of America to the small villages in Africa. All of these people are welcome in the GNOME community as both users and developers - they deserve world-class free and open source software.
GNOME has come a long ways in the past 7 years (I can't imagine doing individual rounds of introductions at our GUADEC 2008!) and GNOME is ideally situated to make huge advances forward in the next year.
Global Community. During the past year we've expanded our global reach, in addition to our annual conference in Europe, GUADEC, we now also have events in Latin America and Asia. In 2008 we held our first GNOME.Asia in Beijing. 300+ people attended and a Beijing GNOME Users' group was created as a result! At GNOME.Asia, I was approached by people asking all sorts of questions from "how do I get started in GNOME?" to "how do I find a job that will use my GNOME skills?" But by far my favorite question was translated for me in a room of 20+ women, "why are you worried about women in open source? There are lots of us!" We could all learn about women in computing from Asian countries. Latin America and the US also had lots of activity with Forum Brazil, Latin America Tour and the Boston Summit. In 2009 we'll continue to work around the world, expanding into more Spanish speaking communities with GUADLAC. (By the way GNOME Hispano won the Best Initiative in Free Software Award!)
GNOME Mobile. GNOME Mobile is perhaps one of the most exciting areas at the moment. You've all seen the explosion of smartphones as well as netbooks and other mobile devices. GNOME Mobile provides a computing platform for these devices that is not only 100% free and open source software but it's built on our existing GNOME software. That means that you get the power of your desktop computer on your handheld. This is bringing new products to all fields - at OSCON I got to see Labquest's Vernier, a scientific device for students - it lets them measure everything from water temperature to flow rates- and graph it right on their own device. And it's cheap enough for every student to use their own. Open source technologies like GNOME Mobile enable that type of innovation. The GNOME Mobile team continues to build more innovation and change into our existing software to make sure it meets mobile needs. Motorola, Intel, Texas Instruments and many others all use GNOME Mobile in their solutions. During 2009 we'll continue to add more technologies to GNOME Mobile, more members to the community and we'll see new products launch that use GNOME Mobile.
Developer community. As I said earlier, the GNOME community is always looking to bring more people into the GNOME community. This year we had a number of successful programs that brought us great new features and code, but more importantly introduced new people to our community. We had 26 Google Summer of Code Students working on GNOME, mentored by some amazing developers. We put together the Accessibility Outreach Program to attract new developers and to add some features that are key to making sure GNOME enables computers to be usable and accessible to all regardless of their abilities. I got to meet a number of them at GUADEC and was impressed with their questions. It's good to see them still part of the community and blogging on Planet GNOME. Next year we plan to build on these as well as participate in programs like the FOSS Humanitarian project and launch new programs around getting business students involved in free software.
Corporate sponsorship. In addition to projects that bring in new GNOME developers and users, we also have had added new new corporate members to our advisory board, Motorola and Google. Both have been a part of the GNOME community for a while and are now strengthening their commitment. Motorola is a member of GNOME Mobile and uses GNOME technologies in their cell phones. Google has been a long time GNOME supporter through projects like Google Summer of Code, GNOME Accessibility Outreach and GUADEC sponsorship. We look forward to having their expertise on the GNOME advisory board. With these two new corporate additions to its advisory board, the GNOME Foundation continues to strengthen its industry support and shows that the support for free and open source software is growing - especially in the mobile space with technologies like GNOME Mobile. The additional funds and resources will be used on programs that support GNOME's goal of universal access such as accessibility outreach programs, usability studies and internationalization efforts. We also added the Mozilla Foundation and Sugar Labs to our advisory board, two sister organizations that share our dedication to free software and internet and computing access for everyone.
Our existing sponsors contributed much to GNOME this year. For example, Red Hat has worked on many desktop technologies like Online Desktop, OpenSolaris ships with GNOME, Nokia funded the migration of the accessibility infastructure to D-Bus. Big Kudos to all of our sponsors for all the work they have enabled this year: Access, Canonical, Debian, FSF, HP, Google, IBM, Igalia, Imendio, Intel, Motorola, Mozilla Foundation, Nokia, Novell, OpenedHand, Red Hat, Software Freedom Law Center, Sugar Labs and Sun. In addition to funding salaries and our traditional events, they also funded several very successful hackfests and accessibility projects.
Speaking of universal access, did you know that Supersonic Imagine makes a scanner that detects breast cancer using GNOME technologies? Or how about One Laptop Per Child, the tremendously popular laptop for children in developing countries? The people, projects and products that are benefiting from GNOME's free and open source technologies are growing and we look forward to making sure they have the software they need to make a difference in the world.
You can read about all the accomplishments I've talked about and many more in the rest of this report. Please take the time to see the work we're proud of, use GNOME proudly and feel free to join us online!