I must apologize again for neglecting my blog for so long, but the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I unfortunately lost my blog password and discovered that you can't reset it unless connected to the SWAN, which made it impossible for me to update my blog while I have been travelling. \*sigh\*

I have been travelling in Europe for the past few weeks, and have been doing a number of things, such as going to the GUADEC convention (May 29-31), geared towards energizing my involvement in the free software community. Due to budget constraints within Sun, I had to pay my own travel expenses to attend the conference this year. This seems to surprise a number of people, but I feel it is good way to invest in my job and a community that I believe is making a positive difference in the world.

My first stop in Europe was Stuttgart, Germany. I arrived a few days before the GUADEC convention, so I had some time to explore the city. I was most impressed with the beautiful city center, the parks, and the artwork on display at the Staatsgalerie (State Gallery).

The GUADEC convention was a great experience. There are few opportunities to meet face-to-face with many of the people on the GNOME project, and it was great to spend some time with everyone. This year's convention seemed to have a different energy than in past years, perhaps because it felt like there was a much larger representation from commercial companies that integrate with or utilize GNOME present (Ubuntu, Nokia, Real). Jeff Waugh's TOPAZ (Three Point Zero) presentation focused on how to best productize the GNOME desktop, which I found refreshing to hear. Issues such as improving stability and performance seemed to be a recurring theme. It was great to see involvement from the Linux kernel community. I felt Robert Love's "Optimal GNOME Programming" presentation was an awesome way for a kernel developer to engage with the GNOME project. I was also very impressed with Ubuntu.

For the past year, I have been working with Sun's ARC (Architecture Review Committee) to determine how to best engage with the Free Software Community and how the GNOME project fits into the Solaris Stability Guarantee. This has become especially important for Sun lately since the inception of the OpenSolaris project on June 14th. Sun's Solaris OS is now available under the CDDL license, which is OSI certified. Having worked for Sun on free and open software for the past several years, it feels good knowing that Sun is committed to these ideals.

I helped to arrange having Ed Hunter and Joe Kowalski (both ARC chairs) attend GUADEC. They gave a presentation on the importance of documenting Interface Stability and also had a great opportunity to engage a good number of developers in the GNOME community. I think Ed and Joe did a great job of raising awareness, and Sun definitely has a better grip on how to get traction on this issue. It is rewarding to see that the GNOME community has already started planning a document to stabilize interfaces for ISV's. Starting next week, I am planning to start contributing to this.

I must confess that GUADEC put me into a bit of a funk, though. Many people in the GNOME community expressed that Sun seems to not be as involved as we should, and this was hard to hear. Because Sun tends to be on a slower release schedule than other GNOME distributions, we have not been properly engaged with the decision planning that happens at CVS head. Sun certainly needs to better engage in this area.

Another problem is that Sun does not do a good job of highlighting those areas where we do contribute. Because tasks such as QA testing, internationalization, stability, usability, and documentation tend to lag behind the latest development release, many people in the GNOME community do not see the areas where Sun adds the most value. In addition to being more involved with the latest GNOME code, Sun needs to be better about communicating what we are doing, and how we are adding value to the project.

Over the past few weeks, we have been working hard to get a better handle on these problems and are working towards identifying the things Sun needs to do to better support the GNOME community. It is clear, for example, that a good bit of work needs to be done to better document the accessibility infrastructure so that more people in the GNOME community understand how it works and how to test their applications from an accessibility perspective. We have plans to use to help resolve these issues.

After GUADEC, I travelled to Barcelona, Spain to spend five days with the people from Fluendo, who also work on the GStreamer free multimedia engine. Over the past year, I have been involved with porting GStreamer to Solaris and have been active in the project, so it was nice to spend some time working more closely with them. It was also rewarding to spend a few days working from their offices and experience what it is like at a company so committed to free software. I had visited Barcelona once before, so I didn't feel much of an urge to play the tourist.

I arrived in Dublin on June 8th and have been working with the Sun GNOME team from the Sun Dublin office. Again, it is great to be able to get some face-to-face time with the team, and has been a great opportunity to build stronger connections with the GNOME accessibility, QA and internationalization teams. It has been especially good sharing ideas with Damien Donlon, who works on GNOME internationalization, and also Bill Haneman, who is a lead engineer on GNOME accessibility.

This past week has been a bit crazy because I upgraded my PC to the official Solaris 10 release, and spent several days figuring out how to get things working again. My ethernet driver was causing my kernel to panic, which took me some time to figure out. I have been struggling to keep up with work on GDM, so am looking forward to being able to make more progress now that I'm no longer distracted by OS upgrading woes.


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