GUADEC 2019 | Part 1: Passing the Baton

This year, GUADEC was held in Thessaloniki, Greece from August 23rd – 28th. I had a great time at the conference and took some time to travel after, so I was able to see some of Northern Greece, in addition to hanging out with some of the best people I know while at GUADEC.

Since there’s a lot of talk about, I’ll be doing two separate posts, one about the Board meeting (in this post), and one about the conference itself (next post). 

Board Handover Meeting

I arrived in Thessaloniki a few days prior to GUADEC for the Board handover meeting. I really enjoyed my time as President and Chair of the Board, so passing the baton to the new Board was a bittersweet moment for me.

For those of you wondering, I didn’t run for the Board again this year because I won’t have as much time to dedicate to GNOME in the upcoming months. I pride myself on being a really active and proactive member of the Board, so having enough time to spend working on GNOME-related things is important to me. 

Don’t worry though, I’ll still be contributing to GNOME. For example, I’m one of the lead organizers of the Linux App Summit, and am helping with some other big initiatives, such as our Diversity and Inclusion work, and measuring impact at GNOME

Setting Strategic Goals

Helping architect the strategy that the GNOME Foundation is following is one of my proudest accomplishments because I think it’s the most far-reaching thing that I’m leaving behind. 

When I first started on the Board in 2016, I began questioning a lot of our budgetary categories and pushing for the Board to consider goals for the Foundation and how to use the budget as an instrument of achieving those goals. I established an annual hackfest in order to start working more strategically as a Board and to do a deep-dive on the budget. 

Flash forward, and we now have goals for the Foundation! We started these at last year’s Foundation Hackfest, and Philip Chimento and I spent time earlier this year refining them.

During the Board meeting at GUADEC, we gave our list of goals as input to our Executive Director, Neil McGovern, and he helped us turn them into something that could be adopted by the Foundation and presented during the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Here are the Foundation’s long-term goals:

1. Sustainable Project & Foundation 

  • Sustain and increase funding levels
  • Increase number of contributors
  • Create and sustain infrastructure for Foundation Staff

2. Increased User Base

  • Foster a vibrant Linux desktop 
  • Uphold reputation as the most accessible desktop
  • Support improving the basic function of a desktop for everyone

3. Wider Awareness Through Leadership 

  • Develop better marketing and outreach tactics
  • Become an exemplary FOSS community
  • Evaluate and adopt new technologies to stay competitive with proprietary desktops

If you’d like to learn more about what these goals actually mean for the Foundation, check out Neil’s talk about GNOME’s Growth

It’s important to state that this is just the first step. The Foundation still needs to create KPIs, or something similar, in order to track and measure the Foundation’s progress towards the goals. 

Having publicly announced the Foundation’s goals is a move towards being a more data-driven organization and for us to be able to measure the GNOME Foundation’s impact. It marks a new stage of maturity for the GNOME Foundation, and I’m glad to have been a part of it.

Defining Board Roles

Since this GUADEC was later than other years, we held officer elections a few weeks prior to meeting in-person and had most of the transition stuff already out of the way. 

For those of you who missed it, these are the new Directors and relevant officer roles: 

  • Rob McQueen – President
  • Allan Day – Chair, Vice President
  • Carlos Soriano – Treasurer
  • Philip Chimento – Secretary
  • Federico Mena Quintero – Vice Secretary
  • Tristan Van Berkom
  • Britt Yazel

This year, the Board decided to split the Chair and President roles and adopt the gender neutral term “Chair” instead of “Chairman.” The distinction here is that the Chair helps to run meetings, while the President has some differentiating management roles and special abilities, like signing power for the Foundation. The President is also usually the one who speaks at conferences on behalf of the Foundation, in addition to the Executive Director, although, really, any Director can do so. 

Rob and Allan will work as a team to manage Neil since we found that having a duo approach worked well last year when Rob and I comprised the management team. 

If you’re interested in putting names to faces, check out this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), where the Foundation Directors and staff were presented to the community.

Approving Committees

One of the things that the Board needs to do each year is to re-approve committees. We found this out while I was on the Board, when we were re-evaluating the Foundation’s structure and doing a deep dive into the Board’s delegated powers. So, now, we approve committees and members each year. 

In order to make sure that committees are functioning well and that they have the support they need from the Board, we decided to create liaisons to the committees last year. 

These liaisons are supposed to meet with the committee members they represent at least twice a year and try to understand any pain points that the committees may have, as well as to relate the Foundation’s goals and make sure that the committees think through ways to support those goals. 

Here’s a list of the new committee liaisons for the upcoming year:

  • Engagement – Britt Yazel
  • Membership – Tristan 
  • Code of Conduct – Federico 
  • Travel – Philip Chimento
  • Sponsorship – dissolved since we now have a member of the Foundation staff to work on fundraising for the Foundation

During the meeting, we also talked about re-evaluating the committee’s membership in order to make sure that only active members of committees have access to sensitive data. This is something that the new Board will be following up on this year. 

Handing Over Tasks

At the same time that the rest of the GNOME Project moved to using GitLab, the Board created a GitLab project in order to keep track of our open issues. This allowed us to prioritize initiatives and work more effectively on complex issues. 

Luckily, I had completed most of the tasks assigned to me, so there wasn’t much for me to hand over to new board members. 🙂


That’s it for this post. Now onto the actual conference and BoF days.

Nuritzi’s Travel Sponsorship Guide for GUADEC 2019

The deadline for GUADEC 2019 sponsorship is tomorrow, Friday, July 5th. That means you still have a whole day to apply if you haven’t already 😉

This week, I had the opportunity of helping some GNOME newcomers apply for travel sponsorship, and I wanted to blog about some of the questions that came up along the way. I hope this helps anyone else who is trying to better understand how to apply for sponsorship under the new travel policy. 

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

How to Apply for Travel Sponsorship

Philip Chimento and I helped rethink the travel policy this year as part of our term on the board. It was recently adopted and has a few important changes. Here’s a quick summary of the new process and what you’ll need to do to apply. 

  1. Read the GNOME Travel Policy. Make sure that you can receive money through one of the payment options that we provide, otherwise, you won’t be able to be reimbursed.

  2. Fill out the Application Form (you can copy and paste the template on the wiki page into an email).

  3. Send screenshots of your flight and hotel price search along with your application form to (you can do the price search on Kayak or Expedia, for example. Take a screenshot or save a PDF of the 1st page of results). Here’s more info on how to do this.

    Remember that low-cost flights often make you pay extra for a checked bag, so make sure you include the baggage costs in your request. Here’s our policy on allowed baggage.

    Note: Organizers will often book entire hostels, dorms, hotels, or homes for GUADEC and some of our other large GNOME events. Sponsored individuals are typically expected to stay there and will get a pre-paid room for the duration of their stay instead of a reimbursement for lodging. Read more about this in the FAQ below.

  4. Determine if you need a visa, and if so, request an invitation letter.

  5. Take photos during the event, if possible, and blog about your experience to help tell more people about what you did and learned at the event.

  6. After the event, you have 6 weeks to file a reimbursement report. You’ll need to include receipts of your expenses and a link to your blog post. Here is more info on what’s expected. 

FAQs and Troubleshooting

Who can apply for sponsorship? 

Anybody who is interested in contributing to the GNOME community is encouraged to apply! You do not need to be a Foundation member; however, Foundation Members and event speakers get preference.

We have limited funds available, so if you’re not a Foundation Member, make sure to let us know why you’re excited about attending, how you’ve contributed or participated so far, any relevant participation you’ll have at the event (Volunteering? Attending a hackfest, workshop, or BoF?), and how you might participate in GNOME beyond the event. 

How do I know if event organizers provide pre-booked accommodations and what happens if they do?

If you are traveling to one of our main conferences, it is likely that event organizers will have pre-booked accommodation for conference participants. Sponsored individuals are expected to stay there and will be given a pre-booked room instead of reimbursement for lodging.

Event organizers will typically post about pre-booked accommodations on their website. For GUADEC 2019, for example, the pre-booked options are listed on the GUADEC 2019 website.

In your travel sponsorship application, you should list any special requests that you have for the pre-booked lodging options (e.g. requests around accessibility, single sex rooms, etc.). Accommodation of those requests is not guaranteed, but the travel committee will take your requests and preferences into account.

You can read more about lodging options and expectations in the “lodging costs” section of the travel policy.

Can I extend my travel dates so I can do some sightseeing after the event? 

Yes, you can extend your travel dates, but the GNOME Foundation can only reimburse you for the actual dates of the event + travel days. 

This means that screenshots of flight and hotel comparisons that you send with your application should only be for the event + travel days. 

If your request is approved, you can then book your flight for whatever dates you want, but you will only get reimbursed up to the amount that the travel committee approved you for.

Read more about this here.

What if I can’t afford to pay for my own ticket? 

The GNOME Foundation normally can’t directly pay for people’s tickets and only reimburses people at the end, but with this new travel policy, exceptions can sometimes be made. 

Please add any requests like this to your application, and the Travel Committee may contact you about it since these requests are decided on a case by case basis.

Flight prices have gone up since I sent in my request, what do I do?

We saw this happen a lot in previous years, so we are trying out this new policy to help. Check out the “expired airfare” section of the travel policy for more information.

The visa application process is confusing — help!

I’ve heard this a lot, and I commiserate with those who need to apply for a visa to travel to our events! 

Here are some tips that might help: 

  1. Book cancellable flights and hotels. In some cases, you may not have to actually book flights and accommodation before your visa is approved. Instead, you can just provide an itinerary of your trip. Make sure you understand your visa requirements before trying to book something.

    If you do need to provide booked flights, try using a local travel agent. They can usually put a hold on tickets for some days — usually a couple of weeks. This means the tickets will be booked, but not paid for. You will have to pay the travel agency a nominal fee for their services. Make sure to talk to the travel committee about this before you engage with the travel agency and see if they can reimburse you the extra amount, if needed.

    For hotels, there are some sites like that let you cancel without penalty up to some days before the date of the trip. This is great, just in case your visa doesn’t get approved, you decide to stay somewhere else (like the pre-booked location that the event team might organize), or in case your travel plans change a bit as the travel dates get closer.

  2. Request an invitation letter. As mentioned above, you can request an invitation letter for GUADEC 2019. The local team is the only group who can help you get a letter, not the travel committee.

  3. Financial stability requirement: Generally visa applications will require you to present your bank statement for the last 3-6 months. This is done in order to assess your financial stability and make sure that you have enough of a financial buffer to bear additional expenses in the foreign land if needed.

    If you are a student, you can submit an attested letter from your parents/guardian, specifying that they can cover addition expenses (if any). If you do this, you will need to attach your parent/guardian’s bank statement in your application and specify this in your personal cover letter.

  4. Talk to the travel committee. The travel committee is a group of volunteers who really wants to help improve this process for the GNOME community. If you have specific questions, or face challenges along the way, make sure to contact them.

A huge thanks to Umang Jain, a member of the Travel Committee, for helping me create these tips!

I still have more questions, who can I ask for help? 

The travel committee can help you answer more specific questions. Here’s how to contact them: 


IRC: #travel (here’s how to use IRC… it’s basically what we use to chat)

Riot: #travel (that link will help you join the correct channel via Riot, a chat client many of us use. Thanks for creating that link, by the way, @Carlos Soriano!)

Ok, that was a lot of information, but I hope it helps! 

See you in Greece 🙂

LAS @ GiNA Planning + GNOME 3.26 Release Party in SF

Wow, so many acronyms in my title! Don’t worry, I’ll demystify them. Here you go:


First a quick explanation of the acronyms:

LAS = Libre Application Summit (formerly called “LAS GNOME”).

GiNA = GNOME in North America (this isn’t official, but it’s the name we’re proposing for the event in North America that is a consolidation of the Boston Summit and the West Coast Summit)

Ok, so what is LAS @ GiNA? So glad you asked. Basically, we are combining a bunch of events to make it easier for us to plan and also to gain traction. The idea is that we want to incubate LAS within The GiNA Summit for the first few years until it can take off and have a life of its own outside of GNOME. LAS is meant to promote agnostic Linux desktop application technology, but for now, we want to help it grow by putting GNOME’s support and organization behind it.

We met for the planning session at the new Endless office in downtown SF. It has a much more urban feel than the last one.


Most of us “global LAS organizers” are in SF, but Sri joined us from his temporary AirBnB in Denver (congrats again on the new System 76 gig, btw, Sri!).



After 3 hours of planning, we made a lot of progress. We were able to define how a co-hosted event would look like, when it should be, and evaluated the bids we have on the table so far. Here are the basics so far:

  • Timing: we’d like it to be a 4 day event (Thursday – Sunday) sometime in April or May of 2018.
  • Possible Locations: We have 3 possible locations right now (Denver, Montreal, and SF), and will be spending the next couple of weeks tightening up the bids for each location. We need to select a bid by November so we can announce the CfT (Call for Talks) in December.

There’s a lot more I could go into about the results of the LAS planning session. If you’re interested, let me know!


GNOME 3.26 Release Party

While we did order some food for the LAS planning session, we ended up saving some of our appetite for the GNOME 3.26 Release Party.

We were originally going to Golden Gate Park to enjoy some sunshine, corn hole, drinks, and snacks… but we ended up having to change the venue to make it easier for the LAS planners to go to the Release Party. We ended up picking Gott’s Roadside restaurant, a burger joint, at the Ferry Building in SF. It’s about a 15 min walk from the Endless office.

gotts roadside.jpg


We were happy to see that the Ferry Building looked especially fabulous when we arrived. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine, and we decided to sit inside in the air conditioning instead of in the direct sunlight. There was plenty of natural light in the building though, so we didn’t miss out on the sun.


We used some of the money that the GNOME Foundation made available to Release Party organizers to buy some appetizers for attendees. Zana suggested zucchini fries, which were a big hit, and we ordered a few sweet potato fries and garlic fries as well.

Thank you, GNOME Foundation for they yummy fries! The sweet potato ones were my favorite, so double thanks for those.

Oh, and dear reader, do see that shake in the background? That’s a chocolate malt shake and it’s delicious. Definitely try splitting one if you go to Gott’s. You’ll make new friends because the shakes are amazing, and you’ll save yourself the agony of trying to drink a whole sugary concoction all by yourself. In small quantities though: it. is. amazing.


Besides eating and drinking, we had a great time talking about all the GNOME stuff happening in the next few months, which happens to be a lot! Some of us are about to travel to some GNOME hackfests, and to GNOME.Asia. Don’t worry, I’ll post about each of those as well.

K, well thanks for reading this post, and if you’re ever by the Ferry Building, now you know that Gott’s has some pretty great sweet potato fries and chocolate malt shakes! 🙂