This has been a fabulous visit in Bangalore.
Novell has an engineering office here with about 350 developers, working on various components of our products. Over the next few months, I am transitioning 40 of these to open source desktop projects, and 10 of them to Mono. Michael, Luis, Dave and I have been here for the last several days meeting and interviewing people from existing projects and selecting the initial members of our desktop teams.
Our intent is to have people working directly with the GNOME, OpenOffice and Mozilla communities: in CVS, in bugzilla, on IRC and on the public mailing lists. This transition will happen with all appropriate caution and slowness; deploying a few great hackers successfully is a lot more important to us than deploying a great number of hackers poorly.
We’ve made a number of strategic decisions that we think will make this effort a lot more likely to succeed, and a lot more likely to produce really great, integral hackers for the Linux desktop world.
First, all of the engineers who will be on our open source teams here were identified through a self selection process.
Two days ago I gave a talk to the entire engineering team here, covering Linux desktops, Mono, Novell’s new Linux strategy, and the particular tasks that we will be doing in Bangalore. I talked a lot about GNOME, the community, where we’ve come from and where we’re going. This resulted in a surge of interest among certain parts of the office, and a subsequent flood of applications to join the new team. And this has given us a good field to choose from, with no one being forced to work on open source or the desktop unless they find it personally exciting.
Second, we are starting with a small, hand-selected team. It would be seriously bad for GNOME for dozens of open source newbies to descend on the project simultaneously, all of them making the same initial mistakes anyone makes when they try to join a new project. Our first step is to assemble a core team of people whom we individually screen for their ability to quickly adapt to GNOME and open development.
And so we’ve spent most of the last few days individually interviewing people here who’ve expressed an interest in working on the desktop and Mono. And I must say, we have been substantially impressed with the quality of the engineers here. "Overseas" development has a bad name, but at Novell at least, it is entirely undeserved. These are some of the smartest and most articulate developers I’ve ever met.
Third, we are going to subject these protohackers to fairly lengthy face-to-face training. I’m heading back to Boston today but Michael, Luis and Dave will stay behind for at least a week of intensive education on open source, Linux, tools and methodologies, how to work with the community, the GNOME development platform, and so on. This will be all-day training, Q&A and hands-on exercises eight hours a day for the entire week.
Next, the hackers here will be initially assembled into a GNOME Janitors team, targeting key bugs across the desktop. This will give them a chance to familiarize themselves with the code and the community in a relatively low-impact way. No developers will be allowed to write new code or do other more critical development until they’ve proven themselves in the Janitors team, fixing the root causes of bugs and not the symptoms, demonstrating that they can interact well with maintainers, and generally doing a great job.
Hopefully this will dramatically improve the bugcount for GNOME 2.6 as well…
I am really glad that we are doing this in Bangalore. India and Linux go together like soda and whiskey; there’s no reason for this country to be sending billions of rupees outside the country to pay for their desktop operating system. Our intent is that our teams here will form the nucleus of a broad local Linux desktop development community. Part of their job will involve doing local evangelism, recruiting hackers and volunteers and users out of the regional LUGs and universities.
In a number of months, when these guys are fully up and running — when the engineers have become hackers — I believe that this will be the largest single office of open source desktop developers in the world. Not counting the Star guys in Hamburg, I guess.
I’ll be spending a bit of time down here in the future. In six weeks, I’m coming back for the Linux Bangalore conference, and Miguel will be coming along too.
Okay, time to run to the airport again.
Foo camp was righteous. Great people, cool toys. I didn’t want to leave.
But I had to.
After 37 hours of straight travel, I’m finally in India.
Dave Camp is here with me. Over the next three days, we’re going to assemble the core of our Indian desktop team.
Yesterday, the blue angels flew over San Francisco.
Foo Camp is awesome!
I arrived late last night, thanks largely to Doc letting me know which state to fly to.
The campsite is the main O’Reilly offices north of San Francisco; people spent the night sleeping in empty cubicles and offices, and those of us with fortitude of character setup camp on the lawn behind the building.
I’d picked up a tent and sleeping bag at the new REI in the city, so count me among the real men.
As a result, it’s a fairly photogenic conference. There are tents setup in hallways and sleeping bags under desks and you get to see (and photograph) what all these people look like just after they’ve woken up and crawled out of bed.
Last night, after a bottle of wine, I ran into and frenetically fanboyed Scott McCloud. When we started Ximian I bought about 30 copies of Understanding Comics — "the seminal work on semiotics" — for all our developers, at Andy Hertzfeld‘s behest.
There are a lot of cool people here.
And there are a couple of interesting talks going on today that I’m looking forward to attending. At the end of the day I’m going to do a small session on the work we did on dashboard over the summer.
There are periods in your life when you really feel on top of your game. Bam, pow: you are unstoppable!
And then you wake up at 6am to catch your flight to Portland for an interesting conference, and just before you step into the shower, you notice an email like this one:
Just read in your blog that you're headed to Portland for Foo Camp. That's about 500 miles off to the North.
And you wonder exactly how you’ve managed to cling on quite as long as you have.
(Thanks for watching my back, Doc.)
Just landed in Utah for a day of exciting meetings. On the flight over here, I read Fugitives and Refugees, Palahniuk’s personal travel guide for Portland. Which is pretty exciting, because I’m going to be in Portland Friday for Foo Camp.
Sunday I’m going to Bangalore with Dave, Luis and Michael. We will be there for two weeks to build, train and task a large team of hackers to work on GNOME, OpenOffice and Mozilla. More details to come as we spin that team up.
Today was excellent, lots of progress.
Novell is going to be building support for GroupWise messenger, our corporate instant messaging solution, in a Gaim plugin. Gaim will be our Linux client, and the Novell engineers doing the work will be at the summit.
Also attending the summit will be every single Evolution hacker.
We are on-track to have native GroupWise support for mail, calendaring and addressbook shipping in Evolution 2.0.
I am looking to hire a usability engineer at Ximian, to work out of our Boston office. If you want the job, email me.
My USB isn’t working on my new laptop, so no new pictures today. Blech.
I think I’m having the time of my life right now. The other morning I woke up in the MIT fraternity adjacent to the apartment building Miguel and I now live in. I was in one of their spare rooms, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with an empty wine bottle next to me.
It took me probably a full minute to figure out where I was. For at least 10 seconds, I thought I was in Germany, and was trying to remember when and with whom my first sales call was.
And then I glanced around at the bare mattress and the milk crates and dirt and thought: "This is the worst hotel room I have ever been in."
That’s about when reality set in, and I climbed out onto the roof and up and over to the deck in front of my apartment, scaring the crap out of my sister who happened at that moment to be peacefully staring out the window at the rain, when she saw me tumbling over the wall.
Too tired for words today. (Ha!)