July 30, 2013

Interview with Gavin Ferris, GNOME Privacy Campaign Donor

GNOME recently raised $20,000 to fund security and privacy enhancements to our software. We are extremely excited by this, and want to thank everyone who contributed.

One person who we are especially grateful to is Gavin Ferris, who was a particularly generous contributor to the fund raising campaign. We recently spoke to Gavin about his reasons for donating to GNOME.

gavinferris

How long have you been using GNOME, Gavin?

About 6 years ago, I began dual-booting my Windows laptops with Ubuntu, so I first started using GNOME 2 then. I stuck with Ubuntu until about nine months ago, when the whole shopping lens and “We have root” thing made me uneasy about the direction Canonical was heading. I tried a few other distros at that point, and selected Gentoo; now all my development boxes run it with GNU/Linux and Gnome 3.6.3, other than a few headless servers running a stock Debian install.

We’re really interested to hear about why you chose to donate to GNOME. Why donate now?

For community-based, open-source development to work smoothly, a number of key frameworks have to exist. The ‘desktop’ GUI (and supporting ecosystem) is, of course, [one] such key framework. It’s vital that a vendor- and distro-independent offering is available in this space which provides: a) a great (i.e., modern and feature-rich) experience to the user, and b) a supportive, structured development platform for the programmer; and I think GNOME fills both roles well…

I believe those of us who can afford to contribute financially—and who value using free and open-source software on a daily basis—should be willing to do so. Also, seen through the, ahem, prism of recent news, GNOME’s privacy campaign is timely and its philosophy refreshing. Hence my decision to donate.

Do you have a favorite thing about GNOME?

The shell extensions architecture is cool, and I think it has finessed many of the usability criticisms originally levelled at GNOME 3, without making the overall system too fragmented.

What would you like to see in GNOME in the future?

Two things spring to mind (bear in mind I’m on 3.6.3 – but having read the reviews I think these are still relevant for 3.8):

First, I think it’d be great to offer the user a clear choice about what data gets transmitted by installed software components, across the network and between each other, in a way that is easy to use and proactive. … such a feature would be an important differentiator unique selling proposition for GNOME. I’m hopeful the proposed privacy enhancements will provide at least some of this functionality.

Second, I think a major issue with GNOME is its lack of an integrated “software-centre” application properly linked into the Activities-view search… I guess this is really kind of a convoluted upvote for GNOME Software :)

Those are the main things I’d like to see in GNOME. But the main thing I’d like to see GNOME in are my phone and tablet! Hey, if Ubuntu can do it…

Thanks Gavin!

Once again we’d like to thank Gavin for his generous donation, as well as taking the time to speak to us.