Older blog entries for bolsh (starting at number 114)

Subversion vs Bazaar

Seems like I have an opinion on everything these days.

I saw Elijah's and jamesh's posts on Bazaar, and being a big Subversion fan, wanted to respond.

James, it's not the difference in the command set which makes the difference between svn and bzr - it's the distribution. I get headaches when I try and think about having an official version if there are even 2 or 3 levels of redirection in there. There is nothing wrong with people developing longer-lived projects on branches (svn is made to work nicely that way) but if we were to use bzr the way we use cvs now, we would just have a central repository and a bunch of children. Distribution is also the #1 selling point of bzr, I know - but it somehow feels wrong allowing big developments to happen outside the central repository.

Elijah, svn has pretty good off-line support. Not as good as bzr, granted. svn gives very cheap branching. Both svn and cvs (starting 1.10.something) have support for read-only access. I remember asking someone for stats on cvs.gnome.org and anoncvs.gnome.org access a while back to find out if there were a good reason to split them off - svn.gnome.org could easily give r/o access to anonyous.

12 May 2005 (updated 12 May 2005 at 12:01 UTC) »
Language, please

Here's my take on GNOME and bindings (for what it's worth).

We have a choice for GNOME - either we aim at shipping a complete desktop environment, or a core people can build on. That works out with us choosing one of the 3 following things:

1. Add Python to official bindings, but fudge the java/mono question

Platform (in C)
Bindings (C++, Perl, Python)
Apps (in C, C++, Perl, Python: official bindings)

In this model, we avoid the question again, and ship an incomplete desktop, without quality tools like Beagle and Fspot (big gaps in our offering right now).

2. Add everything

Platform (in C)
Bindings (C++, Perl, Python, Mono, Java)
Apps (in C and official bindings)

This way, RedHat won't ship GNOME as we ship it (C# apps), and likely others will choose to not ship other pieces.

This looks like a good way to fork the project across different vendors (open question: is that a bad thing, necessarily?)

3. The Permissive GNOME

Platform (in C)
Official bindings (C++, Perl, Python)
Blessed bindings (Java, Mono)
Official Apps (in C, official bindings)
Blessed apps (in blessed bindings)

We would continue to ship the platform, official bindings and official apps, and would add blessed apps (after release team debate, as happens currently) as an add-on. We would not ship blessed bindings, or the tools needed for them (just like we don't shop a python interpreter).

To ship a conformant GNOME desktop, distribs should ship all official pieces, and may choose to ship some or all blessed components.

This approach allows us to ship the best desktop apps around, and leave the politics of what to ship to distros.

I'm sure there are all sorts of reasons why 3 is a bad idea, but I can't for the life of me think of one.

GUADEC accommodation

Here's hoping that myself and Murray don't get read by all the same people...

Because of demand for cheap accommodation, we came up with the very cheap (€8 per night) Camp Feuerbach, a kind of summer camp type place where we can rent dorms for the weekend.

There's a minimum requirement before we can have it though. That minimum is pretty small, but hasn't been met (so far only 6 people have signed up for camp in the wiki. I get the impression (because of the demand we had beforehand) that there are many more people who want to avail of this, but perhaps they don't know wikis very well, or are holding off until the last minute on committing.

Murray Cumming has offered to put up the cash in advance to reserve the camp, but he needs numbers to do that. So if you want to sleep cheap in Stuttgart, mail Murray (murrayc at NOSPAMmurrayc dot com). Soon. Please.

The alternative is that people who have booked for this will have hostel places kept for them, at the less cheap (but still cheap) price of €80 for the weekend (3 nights).

6 May 2005 (updated 6 May 2005 at 16:12 UTC) »
GUADEC (again)

So, the board spent quite a bit of time discussing GUADEC, and specifically the registration fee, this week.

We were more or less in agreement that the registration fee was badly handled from a communication perspective. We didn't communicate as well as we could have before the fact. So here's a "set the record straight" type post which will hopefully clear up some of the major misgivings about GUADEC's registration process this year.

Why isn't GUADEC free? After all, we're the people making GNOME happen.
Quite simply, if GUADEC were free, the foundation would lose money on it (lots). There are a couple of people in the process of getting figures together to show where money goes in GUADEC, and where money comes from. But taking last year as an example, we appear to have made a small surplus on GUADEC, which then got spent elsewhere (on things like the Boston summit), whereas we would have lost over €10K if there had been no registration.
OK - I can live with a registration fee. Why do I have to go through Paypal?
A group had been working for some time on getting a system online that we could use to accept payments of this kind. And that fell through. I don't know the details. But I know that Fernando San Martin Woerner can in to save the day, and in only 2 days got an OSCommerce front-end for the registration site up & running. Unfortunately, on that notice, the only payment method we could manage for online payments was paypal. But you can make payments through that system without creating a paypal account, so we thought this would be OK.
But it's not OK. (I hate paypal|Ì live in (Iran|Czech republic)) and I can't pay that way because their terms of use are unacceptable. Isn't there another way I can pay?
Tim Ney has worked out a way to handle special requests. Please mail guadec@gnome.org for details of how to pay directly to the foundation account by wire transfer. If you can pay via paypal, we prefer that. Things are getting hectic right now, so if we can avoid adding administrative workflow, that would be better.
How can I register without paying, though? I want to ask for an exemption, but I want you to know I'm coming
In the original page, this was quite hidden away. You had to create an account in the registration page, then click "My GUADEC account", and on that page click "Change my GUADEC details". We've changed that to "Apply for registration, travel or housing subsidy". Hopefully that makes things clearer. I addition, we have added this page to the account creation process so that you can ask for a subsidy while creating your account.
I want to pay on arrival. Can I do that?
We don't currently have a way to handle cash in Stuttgart. Tim's working on it, and this might be an option.
And what if I turn up without paying?
Anything included in the registration pack, you won't get. But you won't be turned away. We have a fee to help with the costs of the conference, not to reduce attendance. We want all GNOME hackers there, and that includes you.
Why not call the registration fee an optional donation then?
A donation and a registration fee are fiscally two different things. It's a semantic difference which is important to some. In addition, we don't consider the registration fee optional. We don't think it's too much to expect people coming to the conference to contribute €30 to the costs. But if you disagree, we're not going to turn you away.
€30? But I'm a professional... shouldn't I be paying €150?
Here's the thing... If you're coming on your own, as a GNOME supporter, and you're paying out of your own pocket, you pay €30 (not including VAT). If your company is paying for you to come, then advisory board members and bwcon members get preferential rates - €150 instead of €225. If your company is paying for your registration, and they're not a member of either of those, then you pay €225 per person. To top all this off, if these fee levels are dissuading you from sending as many people as you would otherwise send, then we want to hear about it (at guadec@gnome.org) and work something out. The fees are not there to keep people away, they are there to help with the costs of the conference.

Now, hopefully that clears things up, and we can start talking about source control, train wrecks, topaz, marketing, interoperability and other important stuff. Sorry we handled this badly.

Update: For two particular use-cases, there have been some options added to the check-out process on the registration site.

For people who have paid through paypal, but did not click the "return to vendor site" link, and thus have not received a confirmation from us of their booking, they can now register, go to the check-out page, and click the "Reorder, only if you has already paid at paypal." checkbox.

For people who wish to enter their registration details without paying, and pay through another channel, click the "Save registration information without going to Paypal" check-box. In both cases, your registration information is saved, you will receive an acknowledgement mail, and you can pay later (or register after requesting a subsidy without paying at all).

Yesterday I brainfarted on the "Fun & GNOME" thing. I re-read it today, and I'm not too ashamed of it, so I said I'd let it free rather than wait until I have time to make it coherent. So, here it is.

Fun and GNOME

We're changing the world. Melodramatic, but true. Software as social work - redressing the technical imbalances of the world by making IT available to all. Software doesn't get built the same way. People's expectations of software are changing. We are commoditising hardware. Write once, run anywhere, with GTK+ and GNOME. GNOME in China, in India, in Brazil. GNOME rocks my world, rocks the whole world.

Boring stuff is what I do. I feel honoured to work alongside people who make great software with a big heart. So I try to make their life easier. But I think GUADEC should have a registration fee (boo, hiss). I also think we should explain why (yay!).

Bringing back the community (good news, it's not gone anywhere). Talking to people again. Encourage the companies around GNOME to hire GNOME hackers, rather than have employees hack on GNOME. Get Novell's cool app developers committing stuff to the desktop again (even if that means including Mono in the platform). Same for RedHat & Canonical.

Shoot our mouths off. We've been watching what we've been saying, for fear of annoying or insulting some unknown people. Our company partners are here because we're a bunch of badly dressed, loud-mouthed anarchists. If we don't go back to that a bit, they'll get bored.

Openness openness openness. Let everyone know what's happening all the time. Why isn't the planet syndicated in a sidebar on gnomedesktop.org? Or gnomedesktop on pgo? Talk to each other. More IRC, more time-wasting, more outreach/recruitment. Collect a list of people prepared to give GNOME presentations on the drop of a hat. GNOME Lovers are great. companies, don't forget some people work part-time on this stuff. Try scheduling planning sessions on mailing lists, having them with IRC in parallel, posting minutes in the wiki.

GNOME is great. Don't forget we're changing the world. How could that be boring?

Testimonials like this always warm my cockles.

I just installed debian w/ Gnome on my friends' machine, GNOME is great, i personally hated all sorts of "Ease of use" features like not being able to tweak GNOME so easily because of the dumbed-down setting menus and stuff, plus the spatial ting of course, but my friend (to my GREAT surprise) liked its uncluttered user friendlyness, so great work guys, really, he is the kind of user to appeal to (not me, who would be happy to use a console all his life :D).

I especially like "plus the spatial ting of course". Although "to my GREAT surprise" was a close second.

3 May 2005 (updated 3 May 2005 at 13:09 UTC) »

So, I copied everyone else and made my Southpark figure.

Here it is.

Pity Advogato doesn't have inline images.

Mikael: First, let me be clear - the fee is there to help with the costs of the conference. It is not there to scam people coming to the conference, or to make money. If you don't want to pay the fee, then don't. Turn up, and you will not be turned away at the door. We want as many people as possible at GUADEC. If you don't want to pay the €225 or €150 rate, tell everyone in your company to pay €30. Then sponsor the conference to the tune of what you think is fair.

Let's be clear - the conference will not make money because of the fee. GUADEC loses money. Sponsorship is not enough to pay for the conference, and when you pay a registration fee, that the money will be going to pay for someone's bed, or travel expenses, or internet access, or facilities. The foundation will take a hit of a few thousand dollars/euros on the conference, as we did last year.

GUADEC has become a big conference. That's because there are so many supporters of the desktop, which is great. Starting with Dublin, there was an attempt to make GUADEC appeal more to businesses, because they would pay money to support the conference, and back then it was felt that hackers wouldn't. So GUADEC stayed free, and businesses and sponsorship covered most of the bills.

Last year, we spent more money getting people to GUADEC than ever before. GUADEC was also more expensive than ever before, because of its size and location. This year, it's looking like it will be just as expensive. We're bringing several speakers from Australia, Canada and the US. We're sponsoring travel for people who need it. And all that takes money.

Perhaps we do need to re-think GUADEC, take a smaller facility (or even a field), announce the thing late, stop having presentations altogether, make it free, and get closer to the way things were in Paris in the good old days I never saw.

At the very least, we need to decide whether we're a technical conference or outreach to local users and business. 3 days is too short to be all things to all men.

But it is unrealistic to expect that an event the size of GUADEC can be organised with little or no cost, or that the costs can be completely covered by sponsorship. A registration fee is reasonable, in my opinion. And €30 is not a huge amount.

Yet another GUADEC post

As Murray mentioned, GUADEC is one of those times of the year when we really need people's support.

Support comes in many shapes and sizes - from people who pay as much of their own transport costs as they can to be there, to people who volunteer to sell t-shirts during the event.

One great way to support GUADEC is to sponsor a hacker. Sometimes, people who really need to be at GUADEC can't get there, because of the travel costs involved. We always do what we can to get as many people as possible to GUADEC, and you can help.

Companies can offer to pay air fare for somebody, and make that be tax free by going through the foundation. Or as an individual, you can give anything from a few dollars to help contribute to the train fare for a poor German student. GUADEC is our Christmas-time, a time for giving and sharing. So even if you can't be here, come join in the fun.

Camp Stuttgart

A quick reminder that the ultra-cheap accommodation option for GUADEC Camp Stuttgart will be available if there is sufficient demand.

Someone in Germany will be paying a deposit out of their own pockets, so if you want this option, please sign up now on the wiki under the heading "Extra cheap camp".

The price will be around €30 for the 3 nights of the conference, apparently, bring your own sleeping-bag.

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