Should we go for another Desktop Summit?

During more than a year, back in 2008 – 2009, I invested a good amount of hours, along with many friends, local contributors and companies, KDE and GNOME members, local public administrations and universities, sponsors, etc. to make true an attractive and risky idea: co-hosting GUADEC and Akademy in Gran Canaria. Two years later, another great group of people did exactly the same to take that idea further, creating a better defined product, the Desktop Summit.

The last few months both communities are discussing about the results of that effort and the challenges we have ahead us. I would like to share my vision. I’ve found tons of arguments to support it. It is pretty clear to me. I’ve just written what I think are the most relevant ones.

  1. I’ve written in the past my concerns about keep laying most of the organization tasks on volunteers and pretending at the same time to celebrate a big and high quality event. That is simply impossible. Every time we get the best we can give. The question is if that enough to achieve our goals in the following years. Do we have other options? Our communities deserve and demand a well organized event. That takes a lot of resources and people. I have no doubt that sharing the organization tasks have made us more efficient.
  2. The Desktop Summit is far from perfect. But both, GUADEC and Akademy are not either. Promoting the idea that globally we loose more that we gain by joining efforts is not accurate.
  3. This joint conference is, by far, the biggest example of cooperation between two free software communities in history. It is an example, one more, of the idea that has bringing us here. Together we can do much more and much better. Supporting that this principle only works within our communities do not make sense to me. This is an universal principle.
  4. During the past two editions, there haven’t been any single key issue that could not be solved in the future by representatives from both communities with effort and honest negotiation. We are walking through an unexplored field. We have done many mistakes and many more will come. This is a well known situation for both, GNOME and KDE. We know we can handle it if we have a clear common goal. We’ve done it in the past within our communities and we can do it during the next Desktop Summit too.
  5. KDE and GNOME boards have came to basic agreements that ensure a fair event for both communities in most basic aspects. Instead of concentrating our efforts on going 50-50 in every single detail, we should be putting our hands on multiplying the impact of our current efforts in every way.
  6. From the economic point of view, we have a better chance to succeed together than by our own. This might not be true in every Desktop Summit for both communities, but in the medium term I’m sure the Desktop Summit will be more profitable than the addition of both, Akademy and GUADEC.
  7. Our communities are mature. Both, KDE and GNOME have a well defined identity. We have a clear view of who we are and what we want. But most of the people out there don’t know it. In fact, most of the people out there do not know we exist. We develop two great desktops but less than 2% of the market use it. Unless something dramatically change, we won’t become relevant players in the next few years. We simply will face another “this will be the Free Desktop Year“, once more. Our contributors, our developers, our users, deserve a different status quo. This event is, by far, the best opportunity we have to induce that change.
  8. In order to increase our impact, we need to reach a wider audience. Our current efforts should be complemented with media coverage. The Desktop Summit is the most attractive product we can offer them to help us.
  9. Having a joint conference do not put in risk our own branding. Fear is what is behind that idea. Fear makes us become conservative. Innovation, means exactly the opposite. Yes, the Desktop Summit is, somehow, about innovation.
  10. Being conservative with less than 2% of market share, having a good product like we both, GNOME and KDE have, is a huge failure in many aspects. Not trying seriously to change that situation is assuming we belong to our projects just for our own interest. The current situation is totally unfair, not just for our communities, but for every single user out there. Having a great product is not enough. We have to do our best for people to know it and, hopefully, use it. Nobody will do it for us.
  11. KDE and GNOME relation is not just about cooperation but about competition. Introducing this second aspect in a natural way during the Desktop Summit is good, very good. I would said that is even necessary. We just have to agree on the red lines. We can do it.
  12. GUADEC and Akademy have a different structure. The Desktop Summit cannot replicate both. The structure of an event must serve the defined goals by the organizers with the available resources. GUADEC/Akademy and the Desktop Summit do not have exactly the same goals. Once we understand this, the structure conflict becomes an affordable problem. I like to think that we want something new, something bigger and, in the medium term, much better than what we have now.
  13. The Desktop Summit takes a whole week. There is plenty of time for accomplishing GNOME and KDE self expectations and needs.
  14. Yes, becoming mainstream means assuming sacrifices. We have to face the challenge of keeping that cool sense of friendship and personal contact we have in GUADEC/Akademy. I think there are ways of doing it. To enforce this, I want to say that I support the idea of doing the Desktop Summit every two years, instead of every year. I understand we cannot have it all. We cannot satisfy everybody during the Desktop Summit…but neither during GUADEC/Akademy.
  15. Instead of dividing efforts, by celebrating the same year GUADEC/Akademy and the Desktop Summit (like some have proposed) I would increase the impact of the Desktop Summit by also hosting other desktops/distribution events like XFCE, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Linux Mint, Mageia, ODF, X.org…….Unity, Trinity (yes, why not?), etc. We have already taken the most difficult decisions.
  16. We are in the position of incubating a movement towards Freedom in the mobile world by inviting key communities and stakeholders to join us under the Desktop Summit umbrella. At least it is worth trying.

For all the above, and many more arguments, I do not agree with those who want to stop celebrating the Desktop Summit, but I do not agree either with those who want to basically keep the Desktop Summit as a KDE and GNOME joint event. I’m one of those who think that we should move further, leading others with our same principles to share our effort and rewards.

What we did in Gran Canaria and Berlin is not the Desktop Summit we deserve, the one I want. I see them as steps in the right direction. Let’s take the next one.

My personal Desktop Summit 2011

I’m back in Malaga and it is time to summarize my Desktop Summit.

First of all I would like to thank every single one of the local organizers and volunteers for the effort they’ve done the past days/weeks/months. It has been a great conference.

I’ve attended to many conferences. I’ve read a lot comments about many of them so I’m not going through them.

Mediation Training Session

Thanks to KDE e.V., I was able to attend to the Mediation Training session on Thursday. It was designed to improve the skills of the KDE Community Working Group. It worked really well. What I did learn there will be very helpful. I’m sure it will help the CGW, so every single KDE member will benefit from it.

By the way, you guys are doing an awesome job.

GUADEC 2012 in La Coruña

On Monday July 8th, I attended, as a member of the La Coruña candidacy for hosting GUADEC 2012, to the project presentation to the GNOME Board. ASOLIF supported GPUL (and other companies and organizations) in its effort to bring this event, for the forth time, to Spain. We succeded and the announcement came a day later.

José Millán, from GPUL and KDE Spain, and I were part of the team that did the presentation. This gives a clear idea of the good relations GNOME and KDE have in Spain, that made possible bringing the Desktop Summit to Gran Canaria back in 2009 or celebrating the GUADEMY, for example.

Hosting GUADEC 2012 in Spain became a personal goal too. I am really happy about the result. The members of the candidacy did a great job. They deserve this opportunity GNOME is giving them.

Kiosk BoF

Kiosk is one the most important features KDE offers for big deployments in restricted enviroments. On Thursday 11th, some KDE developers and people related with deployments talked about the state of kiosk, new improvements and requested fixes. We came out with several tasks to do during the following weeks.

My new tasks in KDE

Little by little, I’m getting more involved in KDE, after not doing much during the second half of 2009 and almost all 2010. The weeks before the DS, I did some research about corporate networks around free software projects, specially those supported by non-profit entities.

Back in 2003, I actively participated in the birth of ESLiC, the Association of Free Software Companies from the Canary Islands. This project was followed by the foundation of ASOLIF, on which I was also involved. A couple of years later, back in 2009, I became its Manager Director (life sometimes takes funny turns). So I have been involved lately in building network of companies and relations with other type of organizations.

On Thursday, during the KDE Promo Team BoF, I presented a new approach for building relations between KDE and other organizations (companies, other non-profits, education institutions, etc.). Some team members agreed on helping me to finish the strategy plan and defining an Action Plan so it can be runnig before the end of 2011.

Since this is just a plan, I won’t go into details until it is finished. I’ll just say that I’m excited about it.

In parallel, I will put some effort this year in helping KDE e.V. in comercial activities. I always tried to do in KDE different activities than in my regular job. It looks like this is going to change in 2011, which I’m not sure yet if it is good or bad news…for KDE 🙂

Karaoke

It looks like it will be impossible to take away a karaoke session in future Desktop Summits. The Spaniards did particulary good singing a Spanish classic song from Camilo Sesto. We demostrated we can beat really bad any Free Software group from Japan or Korea. There is no doubt about it.

Conclusions

It has been a very productive Desktop Summit for me. I always enjoy meeting the KDE crew, and people from GNOME as well. I’m looking forward to work on the new ideas we’ve been going through this DS, to help the eV and to see improvements in Kiosk, among many other innovations we are working on.

GNOMErs..see you in La Coruña in GUADEC 2012.

KDErs…keep rocking. 

II Desktop Summit: take control of your own future!

…and the winner is…Berlin. It will be the “star of our system” for a week during the summer of 2011.

The II Desktop Summit has location, a good one. I’m excited about this event for several reasons. The first one is because, somehow, it gives credit to all the hard work done to celebrate the I Desktop Summit (Gran Canaria Desktop Summit). But above that, I’m excited because, after breaking the ice during that first approach, this event can be a huge oportunity to takes steps forward in joining efforts between GNOME and KDE to develop better technologies, better solutions for more devices and more exciting applications.

Beside pure technical issues, there is a lot of work we can do together in areas like marketing/promotion, usability, internationalization, education, etc. This is a great chance to begin.

So, do you want to know why Software Libre makes a difference? Come and live it by getting involved in decisions that matter.

II Desktop Summmit: take control of your own future!

II Desktop Summit

Se ha confirmado, tras la celebración de GUADEC, que el II Desktop Summit se celebrará en Berlín en verano de 2011. Será sin duda el mayor evento técnico relacionado con tecnologías orientadas a escritorios y móviles hasta la fecha, y no me refiero sólo a software libre. Tal como sucediera en el primer Desktop Summit, celebrado en julio de 2009 en Gran Canaria, atraerá una enorme atención en todo el mundo. En aquella ocasión se congregaron 854 personas y se espera alcanzar 1000 asistentes en esta próxima edición.

La mera celebración de este II Desktop Summit hace bueno todo el esfuerzo realizado entonces. El hecho de que dos ciudades como Estambul y Berlín hayan optado a convertirse en sede de este evento da una buena idea de la complejidad a la hora de organizarlo y de la fortaleza de la comunidad local y empresas de Software Libre de Canarias.

El paso del tiempo parece dar la razón a quiénes apostaron por llevar a Canarias un evento como éste, y dejará en mal lugar a quiénes no creyeron que algo como esto merecía ser apoyado, no sólo por el evento en sí, sino porque muchas empresas y colectivos locales empeñaron su prestigio y tiempo de forma completamente altruista por algo de impacto internacional, bueno para Canarias.

Si el acuerdo entre GNOME y KDE continua, dentro de unos años miraremos atrás y comprenderemos lo extraordinario de aquel momento en el que, reunidos en torno a una mesa, unos cuantos locos decidimos intentar traernos lo que a la postre sería el I Desktop Summit. Al leer el anuncio de la sede del II Desktop Summit no he podido evitar recordar el momento en el que estaba de camino al supermercado, en medio de un atasco mortal, y me llamaron para darme la noticia. Aún tengo grabado el sentimiento, mezcla de alegría y pavor, que me invadió en ese momento.

Este post es un buen momento para recordar a todos aquellos ( I y II ) que se dejaron la piel por sacar adelante el GCDS. Habrá II Desktop Summit, se celebra en un lugar de peso, se consolida por tanto la iniciativa, se valida así vuestro compromiso.

Coordinar a un equipo de más de 50 personas durante más de un año ha sido mi más dura y gratificante experiencia hasta la fecha. Estos días, al conocer la sede del II Desktop Summit, me sentí orgulloso de todos los camisas rosadas y demás colaboradores. Sé que lo he dicho antes, pero es buen momento para repetirlo.

GRACIAS