GNOME Asia Summit 2008 Report

Emily Chen recaps the first GNOME Asia Summit, held this past October in Beijing, China.


The first ever GNOME.Asia Summit was held at Beihang University in Beijing, China this past October 18th and 19th, 2008. The GNOME Foundation was the organizer of GNOME.Asia Summit in collaboration with Sun Microsystems, the Beijing Linux User Group (BLUG) and the China OSS Promotion Union (COPU). This premier event was very well attended: 318 people attended the first day, and 212 people attended the second day. The majority of the attendees, two thirds, were from universities, with the remainder being from companies. Ninety percent of the participants were local (from China) with the remainder from other countries. We had 46 volunteers from the Beijing Linux Users Group, the Beijing OpenSolaris Users Group, OpenParty, Beihang University, Beiyou University and many individual contributors. The volunteers helped us in many ways, including registration, guidance, emcees, photography and video.

This year, there were a total of 42 speakers of which 70% were local speakers and 30% of them were from other countries including the USA, Finland and Singapore. There were 46 talks over the two days of the summit. The talks covered several topics, including: accessibility, mobility, i18n, community, development and deployment. Each day started with a general session in the morning and was followed by 5 tracks in the afternoon. For more details, refer to the schedule on the summit website. Most of the slides have been uploaded to the website, as well as speakers’ bios and photos.


We had many sponsors for the first GNOME.Asia Summit. Sun Microsystems sponsored the summit at the gold level. We had three silver sponsors: Nokia, Motorola and Mozilla. Red Hat sponsored the Summit at the bronze level. We also had one local sponsor, Lemote, who sponsored the summit by providing three Lemote Laptops for the lucky-draw program. Google sponsored the summit by providing gifts to participants. Finally, CSDN and Programmer Magazine were media partners. We are grateful for the great support we received from all of our sponsors.

We had seven booths at the venue: Sun, Motorola, Mozilla, Red Hat, CSDN & Programmer Magazine, Lemote, and the Beijing Linux Users Group. Each booth brought their own booth materials such as laptops, PCs, lab equipment, gifts, posters and fliers. See pictures here and here.


We invited five media reporters to the Summit, and they interviewed important speakers and core contributors to the GNOME community. On the 18th, they interviewed Stormy Peters and Brian Cameron from the GNOME Foundation, Robert O’Dea and Paul Mei from Sun Microsystems, Kate Alhola and Richard Sun from Nokia Finland. On the 19th, CSDN and Programmer magazine interviewed Rafael Camargo from Motorola, Jack Guo from Mozilla Online, Kevin Song from COPU (China OSS Promotion Union), Frederic Muller and Pockey Lam from BLUG (Beijing Linux Users Group). They also interviewed three Chinese input method authors: James Su, Yong Sun and Peng Huang, as well as Funda Wang from the GNOME Chinese translation team. Below are the media reports, in Chinese:

Highlights of the Summit

One of the top three OSS conferences in China, the GNOME.Asia Summit, ranked as one of the top three open source conferences in Beijing this year. The others were the Linux Developer Symposium in February and the OpenOffice organization annual conference in November. All the open source communities think it is time to go to Asia!

Keynote about GNOME Community

Stormy Peters’ keynote, “Community built software is bringing change to the world”, kicked off the summit on the first morning.
(Download Stormy’s slides here) During this speech, Stormy introduced the GNOME project and its strong community. She said that the GNOME community has developed core values including accessibility, internationalization and developer-friendliness that are shared amongst all the volunteers that work on GNOME. Over time, the GNOME project has developed strong foundations such as time-based releases, universal access, and good communication with companies in the industry as well as the community itself. Building on the community’s values and foundations, the GNOME community is now enabling their technologies for the future with initiatives like GNOME Mobile. Finally, she encouraged everyone to join the GNOME community.

Brian Cameron’s keynote about “Building Free Software Asia” was also very interesting. At the start of his talk, Brian played a video made by a contributor in the GNOME community that demonstrated GNOME using animations and cool music. A Flash demo is available here. Next, Brian introduced the concepts of free software, open software, the GNOME community and how to get involved and be active within a free software project.


Accessibility was one of the main topics at the Summit. We were honored to have Will Walker, lead of the GNOME Accessibility project join the summit as well as other accessibility developers, QA engineers, and teachers from the Beijing School for the Blind. On the first day, Will Walker gave an overview of GNOME accessibility. (Will’s slides are available for download here).

Later, Li Yuan introduced the accessibility infrastructure from a developer point of view. During a lightning talk, Ray Wang from Novell China introduced Mono accessibility & UI automation. On the second day, Will Walker gave a second talk, this time about Orca. Tim Miao and Harry Fu also shared their experiences with accessibility testing. We also invited two teachers from the Beijing School for the Blind, who were very interested in the screen reader, Orca, and they made sure to attend Will Walker’s talk. After the talk, they went to Sun’s accessibility booth to watch a demo about accessibility and share their expectations and user experiences with Will Walker and other accessibility developers. There were many accessibility discussions covering topics such as automation testing tools in the GNOME community. Further discussions continue to happen after the summit.

GNOME Mobile

GNOME technologies are used in many of the world’s leading mobile phones. Nokia and Motorola, leaders in the mobile industry, attended the first GNOME.Asia Summit. Nokia representatives from Finland participated in the summit by giving various technical talks which covered the Qt port to GTK+ on Maemo, Tracker, GStreamer and memory management on mobile devices. Rafael Camargo, a director at Motorola, talked about Motorola’s commercial experiences with Linux and how to improve the collaboration between open source communities and commercial enterprises. Finally, he announced that Motorola is joining the GNOME Foundation in 2009. Building on open source technologies enables Motorola not only to get to market faster but also to offer cheaper and more open solutions.


Localization is very important to non-English speaking GNOME users. This was also one of the main topics of this summit. We invited four authors of the input method sub-system, which included: James Su, leader of the SCIM community ; Peng Huang, author of scim-python and ibus ; Peng Wu, author of Novel Pinyin ; and Yong Sun, maintainer of SunPinyin. They co-hosted a technical talk about the input method frameworks and introduced IIIMF and SCIM. Funda Wang, leader of i18n-zh team, talked about the overall localization infrastructure of the GNOME project, the GTP infrastructure (administrator, team leader, translator, tester), and how to contribute to the GNOME Translation project.

GNOME & Mozilla

Mozilla is a sister community to GNOME. It was great to have Mozilla at the Summit. Jack Guo from Mozilla Online talked about “Mozilla in China”, and shared his experiences promoting Firefox in China. Mozilla Developers Brian Lu and Alfred Peng, from the OpenSolaris community, shared their experiences developing Firefox and Songbird on the OpenSolaris desktop.

Lightning Talks

At the summit, we introduced a new type of talk to China: Lightning talks. A Lightning Talk is a short presentation given at a conference or similar forum. Unlike other presentations, lightning talks only last a few minutes and several will usually be delivered one after the other by different speakers.

At the GNOME.Asia Summit, we had lightning talks on the afternoon of the 18th. The lightning talks session was one hour, with each lightning talk being only 5 minutes, with no Q&A session. We used a gong as timer. Here’s the list of lightning talks:

  1. Richard Sun : Package management
  2. Simon Zheng : New generation of GNOME Display Manager
  3. Coly Li : Quick introduction to grub4ext4
  4. Ray Wang: Mono accessibility & UI Automation
  5. Anthony Fok : Attracting new GNOME contributors with Glade
  6. Jon Philips : The Open Clip Art Library + China Lightning Talk
  7. Funda Wang: Experience Empathy

This was one of the most entertaining parts of the Summit, see a picture here.

Live Summit

Visit the Live Summit here. Thanks to Alfred, Will and Joey’s excellent work, we have successfully built the GNOME.Asia Live Summit.

The Online Summit is a real time aggregation tool for Flickr/Youtube/Twitter.
To join in, you can use any of these services:

  1. Flickr: Upload and tag your GNOME.Asia photos with “gnomeasia”
  2. Youtube: Upload your GNOME.Asia summit videos and tag them with “gnomeasia”
  3. Twitter Send messages on Twitter to ”@gnome_asia”. For example, if you want to say hello, just send this message ”@gnome_asia hello”.

Party and Tour trip

We had a wonderful celebration party on the evening of the last day at the Laoshe Tea House. We invited organizers, sponsors, volunteers, speakers and media representatives. We had 120 people join this party. See a picture here.

On October 20th, the GNOME.Asia Summit arranged a one day tour trip for speakers to the Great Wall and Ming Tomb.

Future Work After Summit

One of the major goals after the GNOME.Asia Summit is building the Beijing GNOME Users Group. There are already some GNOME communities in Beijing including: GNOME-CN and the GNOME learning panel at Tsinghua University. It would be better if we could gather together everyone who is interested in GNOME and host a GNOME Users Group regularly in Beijing. So far, we have recruited about 10 core members of the Beijing GNOME Users Group, notably: Pockey Lam from BLUG, Zhangshen and Da long from Beihang university, Fengyi from Beiyou University and Yanghong from GNOME-CN. We will use the following infrastructure for the Beijing GNOME Users Group:

  1. Website: (Need to add more modules into this website, such as Wiki, BBS etc.)
  2. Mailing List:
  3. IRC: BeijingGUG

We started hosting regular weekly meetings in November, 2008.

Another big task after the Summit involves Pockey Lam from the Beijing LUG who is organizing a student study group on GNOME accessibility projects. Since accessibility generated a lot of interest in Beijing, this is a good to time to encourage more people to contribute to GNOME projects. The accessibility project is the first project for the student’s study group. Some local engineers from Sun and Novell China will be mentors for the study group.

GNOME.Asia Summit was a success and we see a lot of things happening during and after the summit! Let’s ride on the momentum and continue to build a strong community in Beijing, in China and in Asia!

About the Author

Emily Chen works at Sun as a Software Engineer in the OpenSolaris desktop team. She is responsible for the quality of the Mozilla products like Firefox and Thunderbird on OpenSolaris. Emily worked in the Google Summer of Code program as a mentor in 2006 and 2007. She organized the first ever GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 in Beijing and founded the Beijing GNOME Users Group in November 2008. She graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology with a masters degree in computer science. In her spare time, she likes snowboarding, hiking and swimming.

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Posted on April 30, 2009, in April 2009. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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