Meeting of the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors, 30 March 2020, 14:30 UTC





  • Approve minutes of 16 March
  • Fiscal year 2019–20 budget
  • Meeting schedule
  • Foundation mission/vision
  • Pass responsibility for conferences to staff


  • Approve minutes of 16 March
    • No amendments were proposed.
    • Minutes are approved.
  • Fiscal year 2019–20 budget
    • The budget was voted on in the meeting of 16 March, subject to the treasurer's approval. Carlos has approved the budget in the meantime, so it is official.
  • Meeting schedule
    • Allan: As you all know, we are trying to be more strategic, which means concentrating on high-importance but low-urgency matters. This means that we should be able to have meetings less often, even if we make them longer. My proposal is to have monthly meetings going forward, which are two hours long. Each meeting will rotate between strategy, policy, and finance, and include a report from Neil.
    • Britt: Agreed.
    • Carlos: Agreed.
    • Philip: I agree but I'm concerned about our ability to keep our finger on the pulse of the community. We should think about another way to safeguard that.
    • Allan: One complication is that we are sometimes going to be asked to deal with things on fairly short notice. We may have to have extra, short, meetings to deal with these things. Working groups will also need to meet more often.
    • Neil: Even if the focus of a particular meeting is, e.g. finance, it's still possible to raise a strategy point there, so not everything would have to wait three months to be discussed.
    • Allan: Another complication is finding a time that works for everyone's time zone. If necessary we can send around a date tracker for each meeting.
    • Carlos: Is it possible to vote over email?
      • Neil: Yes, but an email vote only passes if it is unanimous.
  • Foundation mission/vision
    • Allan: I would like to get an idea of the direction of travel for this, and a working group will work on it. The main question is what we think is most important: user share of GNOME desktops? Or our influence as a project, impact on the software industry and wider world?
    • Philip: Are there people currently in the board who favour one over the other? Or is this question more that we could go in either direction and we need to pick one? In the Cambridge hackfest we had weighted both as equally important.
    • Carlos: Are there any strong arguments against either?
    • Neil: The practical application of this will be in marketing and outreach, even down to what tweets we write. The question with everything we do, would be on the one hand 'will this bring us more users', versus on the other hand 'will this advance our influence on free software development'.
    • Carlos: I tend towards the practical side, placing user base first and letting influence follow from that.
    • Britt: I'm in favour of the influence side, as it's a truer representation of what the GNOME community today is. We don't contribute to GNOME because we want user share, we do it because we want to make the best software possible. However, correctly or incorrectly, a common perception of GNOME is that we force our ideas onto users. We should either embrace that or avoid it altogether, but not in between. Currently it seems like we walk a line where we don't say it but we do do it. I think either the mission statement should be neutral, or embrace this perception.
      • Allan: In my mind we are talking about influence, not telling other free software projects or people what to do. We would be demonstrating what it looks like to build a successful free software product and community, leading by example.
      • Britt: I like that, and it separates us dogmatically from GNU, which seems to place technicalities above the quality of the software.
      • Carlos: You can have strong morals and still be a good thought leader, so I don't think those are in collision with each other.
    • [ Federico arrives ]
    • Philip: I am leaning towards the influence side, but I have my doubts about what the effect of either of these will be if they are used to inform every decision at every level of the organization. If we fully maximize either one, then that might not result in the GNOME that we want. I would like to consider how to word them that they can be used as a guide for everyone within the organization, without being exaggerated. For example, we could say it like the Agile manifesto: 'we value both X and Y, but we value X a bit more than Y.'
      • Neil: This would be used, for example, to determine the approach to writing a hypothetical new GNOME website. Would it be aimed at attracting people to use GNOME, or at showcasing our technology?
    • Carlos: My interpretation of the influence vision is that we would try to maximize software freedom, is that how other people are interpreting it?
      • Philip: That's not how I'm interpreting it.
    • Federico: I think we should focus on the first approach (increasing adoption), since the second one (influencing the software industry) is more or less already the status quo. Users' freedoms are being eroded all the time through proprietary and/or privacy-violating software. We need to give them an obvious choice. It is easier for people to switch individual apps to free software gradually (GIMP/Inkscape/whatever on Windows) than to make the big jump to Linux systems. And yet we make very little effort to make our apps available on those systems. They are available by default on Linux, or with relatively little work, but making them available on Windows/Mac is always dodgy.
  • Pass responsibility for conferences to staff
    • Deferred until next meeting.

FoundationBoard/Minutes/20200330 (last edited 2020-05-22 05:42:10 by PhilipChimento)