GNOME Booth at FrOSCon 2012

For the fourth time in a row I took care of presenting GNOME at the
FrOSCon event in St. Augustin, Germany. FrOSCon is an annual two day long conference for open source and Linux enthusiasts. It’s an awesome conference and every year one of the best ones I’ve attended. This is not only due to the perfect organization by its orga team or the nice variety of projects presenting their work there: every year I meet great people and have great talks with a lot of people at FrOSCon, and this year was no different in this regard.

On Saturday we were for people at the GNOME booth, Steffi, Marcus, Björn and myself took care of preparing our booth and making sure GNOME stood out from the other projects. We used the large green GNOME banner which Marcus brought together with Sirko’s flag and the GNOME Event Box which I had organized. We set up a computer with the latest stable version of GNOME (3.4 at this moment) for visitors to try out and also put a short presentation on my secondary monitor to catch visitors walking by.

We handed out a lot of live CDs (thanks to the Fedora booth for these!) and explained what GNOME is, which advantages it provides and what’s new in the next version to lots of people. We also got a lot of feedback from users and non-users. A handful people told us that they’re using GNOME 3 but wish the old GNOME 2 style would have remained. Another handful of people told us that they were either using GNOME 2 but switched to Cinnamon, XFCE or something else after GNOME 3, and a few haters who never used GNOME told us how bad GNOME 3 is in their opinion. But the majority of people that we’ve talked to liked GNOME 3. Some had fallen in love with GNOME 3 the first time they used it, some needed some time to adapt but love it and its way to work now.

Every time we presented the gnome-shell extensions and showed how they can be enabled and disabled via a simple click from the browser, people were enthused. Only a few people knew about the extensions and were thankful that we told them about it. Even though most people really liked GNOME 3 they were mostly highly interested in adapting it slightly to their needs.

On Sunday morning I’ve given my talk “GNOME 3: A look into its past, present and future”, an up-to-date version of the talk I give their every year. Despite its late announcement and the early starting time it had some attendees (and some people told me they’ve watched it as a live stream). I answered some questions afterwards and later at the booth, and overall it was quite well received (despite my lack of preparation, and that I didn’t really like my talk this year…).

The number of visitors was as usual higher on Sunday so we didn’t have much of free time. Most of the time all three of us (Marcus had to leave Saturday evening) were busy presenting GNOME, answering questions and discussing. One of my favorite moments ever was when I asked a GNOME 3 user if he likes it and he answered:

I don’t really know. I just do my work and it doesn’t get in my way. I don’t notice it.

This comment really made my day!

Another guy told me that he really likes the path GNOME has chosen for its further development, and congratulated us for for having the courage to stick to our ideas, despite the criticism we receive.

After my talk a lot of questions circled around the term “GNOME OS”. I’ve tried to explain to everyone what it means, which great things could result from it and how awesome it would be even if we’d only managed to achieve a fraction of our goals. After some clarification almost everyone agreed and looked forward to the future.

Later that day Björn and me had a discussion with the maintainers of i3, subtle and herbstluft-wm, three tiling window managers. It was interesting to talk about different points of view and discovering that we share several ideal. It also strengthened my plan to do some work on gnome-shell window tiling.

Overall FrOSCon 2012 was a very successful event. The good feedback predominated the bad feedback and compared to the previous year more and more people a giving the new GNOME a chance and start to understand its vision.

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