In Gnome Country

by Miguel de Icaza

Am in the international Open Source Conference held in Malaga in Andalucia. Andalucia and Extremadura are the two states that have adopted Gnome across the board: education and government. There are 400,000 users in these two areas (20% of the Extremadura population are Gnome users) and have around 100,000 Gnome desktops deployed.

This is a very big number of Gnome desktops deployed. This might be the largest Linux desktop deployment in the world (China will follow later with the Gnome-based JDS system next year).

This is entirely a Debian/GNOME setup, and there is a local industry that has emerged out of this: various small companies here are providing the support to the governments of Andalucia and Extremadura (Will get the name of the consortium of open source companies tomorrow, because right now I forgot).

They have developed quite a set of interesting tools: from back-porting changes to the stable version of Debian (addressing one of Debian's weaknesses) to developing tools to manage large network deployments (similar to Red Carpet's enterprise features, but for Debian) and a nifty tool to create bootable distributions and turn them into CDs that people can carry around (metadistros).


There are tons of stories floating around, and people very excited about this technology. From the kids that after doing their work in school ask the teacher for permission to use the "Guadalinux" (this is the name they use to refer to the Linux machine, based on the distribution name) to the class rooms that are now entirely quiet due to the kids playing with the "Guadalinux" systems.

Also grandmothers refer to the web as "mozilla" they pronounce it "mo-ci-yha", as in `I found in mo-ci-ya that you can do this and that'. Very interesting stuff.

During a few conversations with the various officials and engineers that work on this project, I have mentioned that they should probably should join the Gnome Foundation's Advisory Board, something that I think we should fast track. I asked the education secretary if they had any issues with Gnome, and if there was something we could fix, or improve for them, and they said `So far we have not had problems with the teachers'. A good perception.

The technical guys on the other hand had a few requests: from Evolution failing to send SMTP mails in some occasions (we should investigate this) to better integration with the braille stack in the accessibility framework (accessibility here is very important due to a fairly strong Spaniard organization called "La Once").

My friend Charles Curran from the UK Linux Users group is also in town, he is now living in Sevilla, and came to the meeting. It was very nice to see him again.

Lastly, about 30 Gnome Developers from the "Gnome Hispano" got together in the afternoon to meet and discuss. I learned that a "GUADEC Hispano" is being planned for May in Extremadura.

Mono Presentation

The Mono presentation went fairly well, I was still a bit tired from the jetlag, but it came out OK. I updated MonoDevelop from CVS, and things worked out of the box: I demoed the intellisense feature which is just a great way of developing Gtk# apps.

While jetlagged

While jetlagged and unable to sleep, am checking out the Nemerle language. A functional language designed by Michal Moskal for the .NET Framework that works out of the box in Mono.

This compiler is self-hosting, which is fascinating. Worked out of the box on Mono 0.30

Posted on 19 Feb 2004