Over one hundred GNOME developers at summit

by Andy Oram

Related link: http://live.gnome.org/Boston2005

If you're near Boston, Mass. and want to find out the development
plans and design issues for the
GNOME desktop,
or just are curious to see an energetic collection of software
developers from around the world interacting, head on down from now
through Monday to the
GNOME summit
MIT's famous Stata Center.
Over one hundred people showed up for today's morning presentation,
and nearly every one was a developer for GNOME or a related
technology: X, Linux, or a desktop application.

The conference has an exceedingly open format, with a few rooms and
times dedicated to broadly defined topics, other rooms set aside for
communal hacking, and no official speakers.

There are a few major issues creating a draw this year (it's the
fourth year for the summit): performance, printing, and use of
HAL/D-BUS stack of plug-and-play notifications. But people come
basically to find other people working on the areas that interact with
their own.

Corporations have sent lots of programmers, but they come representing
themselves, with goals related to their projects, more than as
representatives of their management. As you might expect, Novell and
Red Hat staff are ubiquitous. Other vendors such as IBM have come too,
and Intel sponsored trips by several KDE developers who will discuss
how to get GNOME and KDE applications to work well with each other's
desktops. The big surprise of the day, for me, was the heavy presence
of people from Nokia, who have used Linux in some of their equipment
and are altering GNOME to make it work better within a cell phone's
memory, CPU, and display requirements.

I talked to a Nokia developer about why they were using GNOME. He said
they had developed their own GUI with their hardware in mind, but
wanted something that could evolve faster and had a large developer
community; they calculated that in the long run they could get a
better product by compromising their requirements and getting GNOME to
fit. They chose GNOME over KDE because they figured they'd have an
easier time getting their extensive changes approved by the relatively
vendor-independent GNOME developers than they would dealing with
Trolltech, although they have nothing against Qt and

I also talked to a developer from Sun who ports GNOME to their
products, a reminder that GNOME and KDE work on other operating
systems besides Linux.

Watching this motley crew make connections and bring their concerns
to each other's attention is an interesting anthropological
experience. Half the attendees are from outside North America, and
half have never been to a GNOME summit before. Working on software
also requires work to come together as a community. It makes me feel
justified to put in a plug for a book we just released, written
by software
management veteran Karl Fogel:
Producing Open Source Software.