December 29, 2020

Looking Back on 2020 with Neil McGovern

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2020 has certainly been a unique year. It’s a year where billions of people have changed the way they work, socialize, and live their everyday lives. As various restrictions were introduced globally, people started to use their computing more and more.

At GNOME, we have a vision. We want to see a world where everyone is empowered by technology they can trust. We want to deliver this by building a diverse and sustainable free software personal computing ecosystem.

In the last year, we’ve had a number of large challenges to face. We canceled all of our travel and had to find new ways of working. Our three main conferences were moved online and this has meant it was more difficult to find sponsors. However, it has also brought new opportunities. We held our first GNOME Onboard Africa Virtual and had an onboarding event in Paraguay with Universidad Catolica.

At the end of 2019, a patent assertion entity brought charges against GNOME for violating one of their patents. We looked at this as something we could settle quickly for our own sake, but we knew it was an opportunity for GNOME to take a stand for all free software. We spent most of 2020 working on this case, alongside an amazing team of lawyers, with the support and energy of the entire FOSS community. We are extremely pleased with the settlement we reached, which opened up Rothschild Patent Imaging’s entire portfolio of patents for use by all projects released under an Open Source Initiative approved license. This created a bright new opportunity in FOSS for growth and innovation.

GNOME does great things for GNOME technologies and GNOME users, but we’re part of a bigger community of free and open source software. This community is a group of individuals, projects, foundations, and non-profits that come together build a brighter future for everyone by building a future for computing that includes everyone.

I have been in free software for over 20 years, starting as a contributor hacking away on my favorite projects to where I find myself today as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation. I am more excited about the future of free software than I ever have been before. Working with this team and the GNOME community inspires me every day. In it I see the best of what free software has to offer. There is world class technical excellence and enthusiastic contribution, and there is also such amazing compassion and thoughtfulness extended to contributions, users, and everyone who might one day find themselves touching the GNOME ecosystem.

Neil McGovern

Executive Director

GNOME Foundation