April 19, 2019
drupal conference gnome gitlab debian

Last week I attended DrupalCon in the lovely city of Seattle invited by Tim, the executive director of Drupal.

Our plan was to have a panel discussion about the tooling we use in FOSS organization such as GNOME, Debian, Drupal, etc. Specially since we recently transitioned to GitLab. The panel discussion was between Tim himself, Alex Wirt from Debian, Eliran Mesika and Tina Sturgis from GitLab and me. We were 5 out of 9 featured speakers!


I took some days before the conference to adjust to the timezone, and to take the oportunity and visit Seattle, my second time in US. Visited all the nice public spaces like the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass, Science museum and the Museum of Pop Culture where I had the oportunity to play guitar for longer time than I want to admit.

Chihuly Chihuly Garden and Glass

Space Needle Me and the rainy wather seen from the Space Needle

Also let me tell you, the coffee in Starbucks Reserve is much better than regular Starbucks! However, nothing as good as StoryVille Cafe; they even gave me a mug as a gift.


After getting used to the timezone and regained energies from visiting all Seattle, it was time to go to DrupalCon. It was hosted in the Washington State Convention Center, quite a big venue with a proportionaly attendance of 3500 people.


Attendees were quite nice, I got quite a few small chats just walking around looking for talks to attend. That was appreciated, specially for someone like me that knew noone and didn’t have much of an idea about any of the products discussed there.

I attended a few talks about project management, community management, etc. and realized they face similar issues that we have to deal with. For example, how to organize a big community and drive new initiatives, how to empower and encourage people to work on the things that matter most for the project, etc.

Also, since Drupal is moving to a more enterprise model, questions such as “How do we keep free software ideals strong in our community?” and “How do we keep community as strong as enterprise/company contributions?” were raised too.

Only thing I would have hoped to have was a central communication channel were I could just jump in and ask or propose to do things around. Their IRC was not very active, which was surprising given the number of attendees. This is something that works for us at GUADEC with the GNOME Telegram group.

The breakfast and panel discussion

The day for the talk arrived, and after preparing it quite well (we started its preparation almost a year ago!) we had a nice breakfast where all of us finally met in person.

These informal chats have a lot of value to me, we discussed the challenges and goals of Drupal for the future. Similar with GitLab, we discussed the future direction of the company and project and its FOSS values and how open they are with their strategy, specially as they get closer to their IPO.

The panel discussion went quite well, but the attendance was pretty low, most likely because it was at 9:00 the day after the DrupalCon parties… hard to get people in. Even then, we discussed with the Matthew Tift, a Drupal contributor in the “newcomers” field, for ways to improve community contribution. I also discussed with Tina the marketing strategy in FOSS organizations that are community contributor driven like GNOME, and ways to improve that for GNOME and GitLab.


The main point for Drupal was that historically they have been a collaboration island, in oposstion of GNOME that we have been a collaboration hub for most of the Linux desktop projects. Tim wants Drupal to improve this situation and find ways to collaborate more with us, specially once I mentioned we were the creators of Outreachy. Given that their main goal for this year is inclusivity and diversity, GNOME being the creators of Outreachy gives us a great respect and trust on driving such initiatives.

In general, my main message for the conference was about GNOME being not only a desktop product, but also a place of inovation for FOSS projects and initiatives, and a place where key people in the FOSS world have learn their skills while being driven by a community rooted in FOSS values. GNOME goes beyond GNOME itself, and I hope this message got delivered!

We should do more of this!

It was great to attend a conference for a product we don’t have much in common, we have many ways to collaborate that are not only about software, and organizations like Drupal and GitLab are great partners in where we want to go and what we want to do. I think, we at GNOME should do this more often, take these oportunities to meet fellow FOSS projects and find more ways where we can intersect and collaborate.

Lastly, huge thanks to Tim and Drupal and Eliran, Tina and GitLab for sponsoring my trip, and to Red Hat for giving me the time to go there. It was great to see you all, I’m looking forward to more oportunities like these 🍻



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