The Past, Present, and Future of GNOME HISPANO

José María Casanova and Juanjo Marín discuss the Spanish-language GNOME community.

GNOME HISPANO started as a meeting point for Spanish-speaking people with a common interest in the GNOME project. Over time, we’ve been consolidating under this name into a group that meets annually at the HISPANIC GUADEC (GUADEC-ES) to share our experiences, developments and projects about GNOME.

The beginnings

Since its inception in 1997, the GNOME project, led by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena Quintero, focused on developing a completely free desktop environment. Although the GNOME project has an international scope and the natural language for project work is English, the fact that its two founders were native Spanish speakers no doubt helped plant, in 2000, the seed of GNOME HISPANO.

GNOME HISPANO’s origin can be dated to 14th December 2000, in a Rodrigo Moya’s message to the gnome-desarrollo (development) mailing list entitled “Objectives”. He asked for a group of people for “promoting the GNOME project in Spain and Latin America” and for that, “the first thing we think we should do is to prepare skilled programmers who know how to program this desktop environment.”

In the beginning, the people were Álvaro del Castillo, Carlos Perelló, Juan Tomas García, Ismael Olea, Alvaro Lopez Ortega, Chema Celorio, Germain Poo, Roberto Majadas, among many others. The first appearance of the GNOME HISPANO term to refer to the group is in the hands of Alvaro del Castillo on February 6, 2001. This comes as a proposal in the midst of a discussion aimed at defining what was the best name for the group. Finally “GNOME HISPANO” was accepted as the official name, in order to cover the Spanish-speaking people from both sides of the Atlantic.

In 2001, we began collecting information related to GNOME in Spanish and bringing it to the Spanish community through our web site. The first community members were Spanish-speaking people with different nationalities. During this period, the GNOME section in the technology weblog Barrapunto, the Spanish-speaking version of Slashdot, was created.

The most important meeting point, since its inception, has always been the #gnome-hispano channel on the GIMPNet IRC network, where the language is actually Spanish. Today you can usually find most of the members of the community there. We’ve used this medium to deliver various lectures and tutorials over time. Another meeting place is the planet GNOME Hispano, where we syndicate content from the blogs of the gnomeros, similar to Planet GNOME.

We’ve put a lot of effort into making GNOME accessible to Spanish-speaking users. To accomplish this goal, the work of translators has been very important. They’ve managed to translate GNOME into Spanish, with only one neutral GNOME translation for all Spanish speakers.

During all this period we have made numerous efforts to disseminate and promote the development of GNOME in universities.

GNOME Hispano has been actively involved with the GNOME community, and already in 2002 helped organize the III GUADEC (GNOME Users and Developers European Conference) in Seville. There, the Hispanic group organized a parallel session with presentations in Spanish.

First GUADEC Hispana and the Association

In May 2004, under the auspices of the Junta de Extremadura, came a turning point with the first HISPANIC GUADEC organized in Almendralejo.

Although GNOME HISPANO as group had participated in multiple events and conferences related to Free Software, this GUADEC HISPANA was the first event focused exclusively on covering our main topic of interest. This was the first meeting of the GNOME Hispano members from Spain.

At this meeting, an idea came up: formalizing the legal definition of GNOME HISPANO and the possibility of creating a Spanish nonprofit organization, with the aim of supporting the GNOME project.

Its statutes were drawn up and the certificate of incorporation was signed on September 19, 2004, and we created the GNOME HISPANO.

The signing took place in Pamplona and the association had as founders Alvaro del Castillo (Madrid), José Ángel Díaz (Extremadura), Rodrigo Moya (Navarra), Jose Maria Casanova (Galicia), Alberto Ruiz (Canary Islands), Alvaro Lopez (Madrid) and Juan Jesus Ojeda (Canary Islands). The constitution of the association lasted a long time, due to the complexity for managing a large group of people along the Spanish geography. The legal address: the Faculty of Informatics, Universidade da Coruña. The registration of the the association was officially made May 11, 2005, so after a year, GNOME HISPANO had the legal status of a national nonprofit association.


Since its incorporation as an association, the main event of GNOME HISPANO has always been organizing the HISPANIC GUADEC (GUADEC-ES) and supporting other events related to GNOME, especially international and local hackfests. From the start, we started the association as a way to make it easier for their members to carry out projects and maintaining GNOME HISPANO as a consistent group with international and integrative values between Spain and Latin America.

For the organization of the 2nd HISPANIC GUADEC, which took place in Universidade da Coruña in May 2005, there was a major effort to involve the Hispanic community as Poo Germain (Chile), Fernando San Martín (Chile), Ariel Rios (Mexico), Diego Torres (Argentina) and Marcos Mazoni (Brazil). For this year’s conference, we tried to bring the dates of GUADEC-ES close to GUADEC to facilitate travel opportunities for American presenters and participants. We can’t forget to mention the work of very active groups such as GNOME CHILE.

At this point, translators met for the first time. Javier Serrador, Jorge González, Juan Rafael García, Lucas Vieira, Dario Rapisarda and Jose Angel Diaz met in Mérida. And they decided to standardize the GNOME translation system and propose the creation of a tool/editor for translation support.

The next big event where GNOME HISPANO was actively involved was the organization of the 7th GUADEC, which was held in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Catalonia. This time, GUADEC and GUADEC-ES co-occurred in the same space and time. This allowed us to enjoy a great event, with strong participation from the leaders of the Hispanic world. On this occasion, the association managed all the financial management of the event, and the relationship with sponsors and participants.

Later, with the collaboration of GPUL, the first edition of GUADEMY was organized in A Coruña. The GUADEMY represented a very positive experience to bring the KDE and GNOME developers to share experiences and exchange views on the status of critical free desktop projects. People referred to this event all over the world, and another edition was organized again with the collaboration of PoLinuX in the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in 2008.

The following editions of the GUADEC-ES were held in Granada (Andalucía) in collaboration with GCubo, in the University of Granada. The next one was in Fuenlabrada (Madrid) in collaboration with GSyC/LibreSoft at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC).

It was not until 2009 that GUADEC and GUADEC-ES coincided again at another international event: the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit. This event was the first occasion in which the main congresses of the largest free desktop, KDE and GNOME, were unified in a single act to encourage collaboration. We believe that the success of the GUADEMY contributed to make the Desktop Summit a reality.

The latest edition of the HISPANIC GUADEC (GUADEC-ES) was held in A Coruña, organized with collaboration of GPUL. It is noteworthy organizers only had two months to plan the event, since they’d planned to hold it in Chile and then had to move it due to earthquake damage.

Holding all these consecutive GUADEC-ES conferences since 2004 represents a success for our community, and helps us to check the health of the GNOME project over the years. We also are proud of supporting hackfests and other GNOME-related events all these years.

We can see that, as a group, with collaboration of various associations and institutions, we could consolidate this meeting of GNOME friends who share the Spanish language.


The objective we have as a group, within a globalized world, is bringing our desktop platform to future developers, by showing them the possibilities the GNOME community offers them: to create high-quality free software useful to all users.

Some challenges we face are:

  • How can we contribute to the society as a collective?
  • How can we attract new generations to the GNOME project?
  • How can we respond to government and business needs?

José María Casanova of Igalia is at jmcasanova@igalia.comJuanjo Marín is at

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.


Posted on March 15, 2011, in March 2011. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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