I’ve been a couple of days at GUADEC in July. I realized that I know a lot of GNOMErs already, many more than I expected. It is one of the consequences of the Desktop Summit and having participated in GUADEC Hispana before. I had some interesting conversations with some GNOME developers and some SUSE employees. I had a lot of fun. GNOME is a great and mature community and they organize an awesome conference.

The organization was outstanding. Everybody agreed on that. Congratulations to the local team. Talking about contents, I am very interested in Tor project. If you have the chance to go through the web, don’t miss it. It is a great one. They are interested in having GNOME as a platform for more people to take advantage of Tor. It is a great goal.

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,…….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.

Gran Canaria Desktop Summit 2009. Feel the power of the desktop community

So Gran Canaria Desktop Summit 2009 dates are already official: from friday 3 to saturday 11 of july. Check the news on GNOME and KDE webs.

This is good news because you will be able to book your flight in advance. It is a strong recommendation from the local team. It is not that there aren’t plenty of flights to Gran Canaria from all over Europe. It is a matter of getting them as cheap as possible.
1000 people are expected and most of them will want to fly on 3-4 of july, so it is possible you just have the chance to get tickets quite expensive for those two days if you wait too long. Once the registration is open, you will be able to book the hotel. This point won’t be a problem since there will be plenty of room available at affordable prices.

If you are a member of the KDE or GNOME community it is obvious that you should be interested in attending to the event. But if you are not, or if you have friends that likes computers, there are few reasons for comming or bringing them during those days. There are tons of events all around the world related with free software. But this is a community event, not a regular one.

You will have time to meet the developers, talk to them, disscuss with them and do some hacking with them if you wish. You will be able not just to attend to conferences but to actively participate, feeling like an actor and not just a viewer. It is also a good chance to know how a community works, understanding its innovation process and becoming a part of this unstopable wave. But above all, you will feel the power of the desktop community, larning why we feel so confortable about what we are doing, so secure about we are on the right direction but keeping a strong critical attitude.

GCDS’09 is 100% community sofware libre in motion. You can come and become a part of it or stay home and loose the momentum. The Canary Islands are waiting for you.

Come to the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit: GUADEC + Akademy 2009. Come to the big one.

GUADEC + Akademy in Gran Canaria…why?

Why do we think GUADEC + Akademy 2009 should come to Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain? Well, here you have some ideas.

We have a compromise from the Gran Canaria island Gov and the Gran Canaria’s college for spending a total of 250 thousand euros in this event. We will spend all the sponsorship we can get in other stuff because many of the things we offer will be already paid. Please visit this page to see the budget. It is well determined which concepts will be paid by the local organization:

But if money is not important for you, maybe the time you spend travelling is. There are a lot of companies that flies to Gran Canaria directly. When you get to Gran Canaria’s airport, there is a bus that takes you to Las Palmas every 30 minutes. The trip takes 20 – 25 minutes and it leaves you at 10 – 15 minutes walking to any of the hotels we included in the wiki. All of them are close to the beach. So getting from the airport to any of the hotels is fast, cheap and easy:

The Auditorium is in the city, not uotside of it, so there are plenty of places to go to eat or having a beer. That is really cool for going out at night so you don’t need to pick up a car. If you prefer staying at the hotel hacking at night, the local organization will pay a room for hacking in two different hotels so everybody can choose what to do. There will be internet connection in those rooms, of course.

We have planned the visit to two different places of Gran Canaria for 1000 people, 500 hundred to each place. Enough buses will be rented with a guide that speaks english. Both visits are really cool so you all will have fun. We will also have tipycal Canarian food during the trip:

In order to ensure that the event will be more publicited than ever, the local organization will invite journalists from general international press and media (5 people). We want to make sure that the event has impact not just in technical media but in more general ones. We also will invite 5 representatives from oocidental african countries related with technology so they can get in touch with the free software community and begin to promote it in those countries. Our islands have a great relations in the area so this event can be used as a plattform to spread technology and free software among those countries:

Initially we have offered to celebrate the event from July 3 to July 11, but we can delay the event a week if it is neccesary. Gran Canaria is not too hot at that time since we have a subtropical weather so it is never too hot or too cold, but most of the year is sunny. That’s why we are one of the most important touristic places in the world. In addition to that, we have a mature free software community. Both Canary Islands colleges have a Free Software Office that are part of the local staff, one of the oldest LUGs in Spain and the first spanish regional free software companies association are also a key part of it.

There is a lot of job behind this offer. We have been working for monthes to define every detail yo can see on proposal. Please, get into it and take time to read before voting. Even if you do not support us, you’ll find out good ideas and interesting things you can suggest to other candidates now or in the future.

This is not a just a matter of where you want to go, is a matter of where would be better for both projects to celebrate the event.

I want to thank all the people that has collaborated with us in this project and also the people that supports us. This is beeing a great experience so far.