Handing over

In 2017, I was attending FOSDEM when GNOME announced that I was to become the new Executive Director of the Foundation. Now, nearly 5 years later, I’ve decided the timing is right for me to step back and for GNOME to start looking for its next leader. I’ve been working closely with Rob and the rest of the board to ensure that there’s an extended and smooth transition, and that GNOME can continue to go from strength to strength.

GNOME has changed a lot in the last 5 years, and a lot has happened in that time. As a Foundation, we’ve gone from a small team of 3, to employing people to work on marketing, investment in technical frameworks, conference organisation and much more beyond. We’ve become the default desktop on all major Linux distributions. We’ve launched Flathub to help connect application developers directly to their users. We’ve dealt with patent suits, trademarks, and bylaw changes. We’ve moved our entire development platform to GitLab. We released 10 new GNOME releases, GTK 4 and GNOME 40. We’ve reset our relationships with external community partners and forged our way towards that future we all dream of – where everyone is empowered by technology they can trust.

For that future, we now need to build on that work. We need to look beyond the traditional role that desktop Linux has held – and this is something that GNOME has always been able to do. I’ve shown that the Foundation can be more than just a bank account for the project, and I believe that this is vital in our efforts to build a diverse and sustainable free software personal computing ecosystem. For this, we need to establish programs that align not only with the unique community and technology of the project, but also deliver those benefits to the wider world and drive real impact.

5 years has been the longest that the Foundation has had an ED for, and certainly the longest that I’ve held a single post for. I remember my first GUADEC as ED. As you may know, like many of you, I’m used to giving talks at conferences – and yet I have never been so nervous as when I walked out on that stage. However, the welcome and genuine warmth that I received that day, and the continued support throughout the last 5 years makes me proud of what a welcoming and amazing community GNOME is. Thank you all.

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2 Responses

  1. tim says:

    Thanks. In your tenure gnome became my desktop of choice.

  2. Mattias Bengtsson says:

    Thanks a lot Neil for all your work and good luck in your future endeavors! ♥

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