15 July, 2009

about akademy 2009

-> some ramblings from short after Akademy I still hadn't published ;-)

Yesterday we put the impression article online, and I have to get something of my chest about that one.

Don't mis-understand me, this meeting has been great. There sure are things which could have been better, but hey, can you expect to put 800 ppl to work in one place and expect everything to be perfect?

It's just that I (we) had to be a bit politically correct in the article, so I want to clarify a few sentences for those who did stay home. Note that this is ENTIRELY personal, my opinion, and probably mean towards some people.

"Negative voices are few and far between, at least on the KDE side, and even those who do not value the cross-desktop cooperation see advantages in this larger meeting."

In other words, many KDE people have really been appreciative of the joint meeting. They were interested in joint and GNOME technology. The things said during the KDE e.V. meeting were very positive and all except like 3 ppl voted for a joint meeting next year.

But apparently at least some (important/influencial) ppl on the GNOME side think different. A big issue seems money: the joint conference means sharing revenue. This is even mentioned in the poll about a joint conference on the GNOME site. Personally I don't see the relevance in light of the great things we accomplished... But knowing the financial situation at their side I guess it's to be expected.

Another thing was the organisation - way too much ended up on the shoulders of our people like Kenny and Claudia. I think that's unfair. Now they apologized for that, but it is something we'd have to do better if we do this joint meeting thing again. BTW Stormy did a lot for the event, esp in the sponsors area. And I'm sure there is enough blame for everyone, not just on the Gnome side (actually I myself should've gotten involved in an earlier stage, the PR would've been better if I had).

But the above is not black and white. I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude Collabora people, the Tracker and Zeitgeist developers and many more. There might also have been KDE people unfriendly towards our gnomy friends (I hope not, and have not seen any such behaviour).

"There are tensions too admittedly, not everyone was appreciative of our primary sponsor, but the conference has acted as a real focus to break down such attitudes."

What happened is that at the first Gnome keynote someone introducing the speaker basically told the audience to put a GNOME foot sticker over the logo of the biggest sponsor, Nokia's Qt. An act I described initially as 'childish'. I do however understand it - imagine that a few minutes before that Quim Gil told the conference audience Maemo would move to Qt. And imagine you work professionally on GTK, getting your business from Nokia... I do however think it was very unprofessional by the person introducing the speakers to say such a thing.

Ok, enough complaining. I can think of other things I was unhappy/disappointed about but that'll have to wait for another time. Besides, there was enough good stuff there as well. And things to improve (also for myself). I hope I managed to keep this reasonable (I tried) and not too offending. And I'm open to input - as always.


  1. The negative parts are just "sunk costs". Don't mention them, there is no value in that, just make them go away the next time.

  2. Gnome has had so much money poured into it for so many years, i find the attitude of some of their contributors just plain ridiculous. It is long overdue that KDE gets its fair share at last.

  3. I think its just really useful to have it all in one place. Maemo is doing what our users have been doing for years: mixing technology from both desktops. Its good that we finally realize that.

  4. @second anonymous: ha, you think KDE gets a fair share? At's definitely not about that, we have a lower income as well this year. But I haven't heard anyone complain about that...

  5. Hmm, I don't get your point about mentioning money in the GNOME survey. Why shouldn't it be mentioned and not be an aspect of consideration? What do you exactly mean by "knowing the financial situation at their side"?

    With regard to the "Qt" on the badges I for myself also considered it childish to hide the logo, but I can definitely also understand that some GNOME people got it as a kind of provocation to *only* have Qt on them.

    - andre klapper

  6. @andre: They've hired a $100.000 "executive director" who's main job is to secure funds from sponsors (then used to pay her).

    They're losing money right now (read their financial stuff, it's available online on their website). Furthermore, I wouldn't know as I'm not involved in Gnome but I've heard several gnomies say things like 'The big money companies run Gnome' and stuff. Often not too hapy about that, btw. No, I won't name anyone but I've worked with several closely during GCDS. Ask around yourself, if you want. I personally think it's exaggerating to say something like that, but Novell, Sun Google and others have much more control over Gnome as they have over a grass-roots community project like KDE.

    Frankly, I think we care way too little about money and (big) companies and what they want. For us, it's all about the best technology. Gnome and KDE should have merged years ago, and the FOSS desktop would be in balance. Just my opinion.

  7. @jos heh thanks for the details. The e.V. is doing so well, so I was wondering how the Gnome equivalent could have any problems.

  8. > Frankly, I think we care way too little about money and (big) companies and what they want. For us, it's all about the best technology. Gnome and KDE should have merged years ago, and the FOSS desktop would be in balance. Just my opinion.

    I disagree :)

    As you've analysed quite well imho (when we walked back to the hotels area at the GCDS) GNOME and KDE are taking quite opposite approaches to developing a desktop. For me, that's not a question of which one is better, but which one attracts me.

    GNOME suits people quite well who have opposite views on some things, and KDE visa versa. This way no particular view is opposed on everyone, nobody is left out, and we can all be happy coding with the people we're having a good vibe with :)

  9. @Ian: I think "having any problem" is actually a misinterpretation of the numbers and statements about conclusion regarding those numbers.

    It is more along the lines of not growing financially as much as anticipated and thus not being able to expand activities as much as planned.
    AFIAK they are still increasing their activities, just not at the pace they had planned to

  10. There was bound to be some tension, and that's what having shared face-to-face meetings is all about - confronting it.

    I can certainly understand the whole Gnome logo thing because if you're investing in GTK and Gnome Mobile then you're bound to be a bit sore, but considering the funding and, quite frankly, hot air that has been poured into Gnome Mobile and Maemo over the years then it really shouldn't have been unexpected. A bit silly, but understandable.

    The interesting thing is that many people point to the perceived and supposed 'corporate' backing that Gnome appears to have from companies like Novell, Red Hat and Sun. However, the downside to that tends to be stagnation. They'll keep things ticking over and they'll happily package up incremental packages and pop them into their 'enterprise' distribution but they simply won't fund anything major like Gnome or GTK 3 unless it means direct revenue. The best things I've seen recently in Gnome have all come from people not employed by companies like Red Hat or Novell.

    I still find it a puzzle as to how well e.V. seems to be managing versus the Gnome Foundation though, and I don't think it's the fault of Stormy as she seems to do a fantastic job from what I see.

  11. @diederik: True, from the perspective of 'darwinism' the existence of 2 projects is very good. But there are more perspectives ;-)

    Of course we should learn from them, like they should learn from us. We must also make sure we keep our identity and stay a healthy, independent, growing community of technology-loving people...


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