19 Dec 2003 edd   » (Master)

Long time without updates here, largely because my free software hacking has been sidelined by various bits of paying work. I hope that the Christmas holiday season will give me enough time to catch up on the free software front.

Between the months of December and July my life is much dominated by conferences. My preparation for XML Europe is now well underway (there's still time to submit an abstract, please do!) Now the call for participation for the O'Reilly Open Source Convention has started.

I've been involved with OSCON for about 4 years now, give or take a year of hiatus. One of the things I'd most like to see this year is a solid selection of talks on desktop Linux. I tried to get more talks in on this topic last year, but unfortunately some people had to pull out at the last minute and we missed presenting freedesktop.org and GNOME 2.0.

Nat Torkington, the programme chair, asked me what sort of talks I'd like to see on this topic, and I responded with this list. This was pretty much off the top of my head, but it gives an idea of what I want to see.

  • Deployer/Advocacy level
    • Architecture of the Sun Java Desktop
    • Migrating users from Windows to GNOME/KDE
    • Deploying OpenOffice.org to large networks
    • Why free software developers should use free desktops
    • Accessibility on the desktop (loads of great work going on here)
    • Why governments are choosing free desktop software (several large deployments that it might be possible to get case studies of)
  • Developer/User level
    • The freedesktop.org project
    • Top ten challenges for the Free Desktop
    • Innovate or imitate? Getting the best features into the FD
    • Desktop aspects of the Linux kernel (Robert Love just got hired by Novell/Ximian.)
    • Evolution 2.0
    • Making usable free software (story of Sun's usability work on GNOME)
    • Taming OpenOffice.org (story of how OOo is gradually being turned from a baroque monster into something that integrates well)
    • Managing my data: the future of the desktop (covering stuff like Dashboard and Storage.)
    • Going mobile: synchronisation, instant messaging, data portability
  • Programming (I only really know GNOME topics here, but you get the idea)
    • D-BUS: lightweight RPC for the desktop
    • Cairo: cross device vector graphics (very cool, similar to OS X's rendering model)
    • libegg: all the coolest new widgets for GTK
    • Python and GNOME (this stuff is just so cool)
    • Free graphical IDEs
    • Putting a pretty face on gnarly Linux/FreeBSD devices for the user (aka how to avoid making the user type /dev/ttyS0 or other somesuch into a config screen.)
    • GPE: shrinking the desktop onto handhelds
    • Eliminating latency on the desktop (Jim Gettys did an excellent presentation on this at GUADEC earlier this year, lots of cool stuff done by analysing X server traffic)

If you're involved in or around any of these areas and want to go to Portland, Oregon, next July and talk about them, then please submit a proposal. OSCON is always great fun.

I believe that free desktop software should be represented more strongly at OSCON. Last year I saw way too many OS X machines used by developers of free software, which seems most perverse. The only way to change this is to get more vocal. I'll be campaigning on a mailing list near you!

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