Changing Roles

I have really enjoyed working with GNOME over the past 2+ years. Working with the GNOME community on creating a free desktop accessible to everyone has been fun and exciting – as well as challenging – which is part of the fun. :) It is the community that makes GNOME, and it’s working with that community, in particular the board, that has made my job so much fun.

Over the past two years I think we’ve made great progress with the GNOME Foundation. We’ve more than doubled our income both from corporate investors and individuals. We’ve made great technical progress especially with all of the hackfests. And we’re well on our way to GNOME 3.0 which is looking like a solid release at this time. In addition we’ve grown teams and processes like the marketing team, the sys admin team and the travel committee. And you know all this because we’ve also improved our communication processes with things like the quarterly report and more active use of the GNOME Foundation blog.

And I can’t take credit for all this. Obviously this is way more than one person can do! It’s been a team effort and again and again I’ve felt extreme gratitude for all the hard working people on GNOME.

So I am really sad to say that I am leaving my paid position as Executive Director. It’s been really hard to write this blog post because I really don’t want to leave. (And I won’t be leaving – more on that later.) However, I’ve been offered a great opportunity to work on the open web at Mozilla. As you all know, I think we need to be pushing for freedom on the web as much as we’ve pushed for it on the desktop. So I see this next step as continuing in my contributions to making sure users have a completely free and open experience when using technology.

So what about GNOME?

The timing of my move comes at a time when GNOME is getting a lot of press. I’d like to give my thoughts on how GNOME will move forward over the next couple of months.

In particular I’d like to highlight one that’s at the top of everyone’s mind, GNOME 3.0. I am confident the GNOME community will continue to work hard on GNOME 3.0 and they will release it next spring when it is ready for end users. My leaving will not affect the development of GNOME 3.0. My job was to run the GNOME Foundation to support the GNOME community. I did not set technical direction nor contribute to the code base – the GNOME community, led by the release team, individual contributors and partners, sets the technical direction and does the work. While I will not have as much time to help with things like marketing and partner coordination, because of the GNOME Foundation, GNOME has the resources and funding we need to move forward with GNOME 3 whether it’s hackfests or resources for marketing. Not to mention that we have many partners hard at work on GNOME technologies like

Red Hat on Nautilus and Evolution … Igalia and Collabora on WebKitGTK+ … Novell on Sabayon and Banshee … Collabora on Empathy and Telepathy … Intel on Clutter … Litl on GObjectInstrospection … Openismus on gtkmm and anjuta … Oracle, Mozilla, Igalia and F123.org on accessibility … Nokia with a GNOME Mobile grant … Google on Outreach … Openismus and Canonical on the Bug Squad … Igalia, Lanedo, Codethink, Red Hat, Openismus and others on GTK+ … and many, many more

Where I can continue to help by supporting the marketing team or helping introduce companies, I will.

Another area where I’ve invested significant effort is fundraising. People have expressed concern that it won’t be easy to duplicate the work I’ve done. I’m proud to say that the GNOME Foundation is looking good financially. We recently hired a system administrator, sponsored numerous hackfests and we will now be increasing our administrative assistant’s hours. Our financial status is very solid and will continue, given the generous support of our advisory board members. I’m confident that with our current board, our finances will be well managed and we will be in a great situation for the new Executive Director to take over.

There are numerous other things I’ve been working on that might be affected. I’ve worked a lot on the marketing team and I hope to work with the dedicated team that’s grown there to make sure all the projects I’m working on move forward. The GNOME Advisory Board  has been benefiting from regular monthly meetings. One of the board members will take over that and we have numerous topics lined up. For everything I’ve been working on, I’ve been working with the board on how best to transition them and make sure items that need attention are addressed in the next couple of months.

If you are working on a GNOME project and regularly checking in with me, please know that someone on the board will be available to help you and you can always continue to bounce ideas off me in IRC or IM or email. If you don’t hear from me about who your contact is, feel free to ping me or the board (board -at- gnome org)

Where am I going?

I’m going to Mozilla to head up their developer engagement program, focused on the open web! As many of you know, I think we have a complete free and open source solution for the desktop but we still have a lot of work to do on the web. Many of us now depend on web applications that are not only not free but don’t even let us download and protect our own data in reasonable ways. Working on developer engagement at Mozilla will let me dedicate more of my resources to making sure developers have the tools and knowledge they need to create applications on the open web.

(And I should point out that GNOME is hard at work solving the problem of how web applications integrate with the desktop with efforts like libsocialweb in GNOME 3 which will integrate instant messaging and social web sites into your desktop. In addition, applications like Tomboy, Banshee and Rythmbox are all integrating with the web. I hope my work at Mozilla will compliment what GNOME is doing and that we will work together.)

I’ve really enjoyed all my conversations with the Mozilla folks I’ve met and I am excited to be joining them. They are aiming to create an open standards-based platform for innovation without restriction. Something that fits very well into what I’ve been thinking and talking about for the past six months.

When I started at the GNOME Foundation, everybody asked me what I was going to work on. So I spent the first couple of weeks asking everybody else what they thought I should be working on. I feel a bit like that again. I’ll be working with the people and team at Mozilla to enhance and define their developer engagement program. I’ll be blogging more about Mozilla and my work there in the future.

What’s next for me and GNOME?

While my last day as a paid employee will be this weekend at the GNOME Boston Summit, I don’t plan to leave the GNOME community. I will continue to be active in the marketing team and I am always available to chat or help. My focus for the short term will be helping the board hire my replacement.

When elections open up for the GNOME Board of Directors next spring, I plan to run. I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated all the work the GNOME Directors do (it’s the most active board I know!) and I hope to be able to continue that trend and contribute my share. I believe the skills and interest I have can continue to strengthen the GNOME Foundation in its efforts to create a free and open source desktop for everyone.

And to echo a cry I’ve heard:

“Rock on, GNOME!”