Feb 13, 2009

sethb and I don’t mean to tempt fate. We find ourselves whizzing through Lucknow on our way to the airport with that sinking feeling that we’re going to miss our flight. Our flight to Mumbai leaves at 7PM, and it’s already 645PM. A herd of buffalo blocks the road, and the driver’s nonchalance is both inspiring and enervating. We’re on our way to Pune (via Mumbai) for gnuNify 2009, where we’re scheduled to talk at the Mozilla Project Day.

We find that our flight is delayed, which means that though we make the flight (joy!), we eventually only get into Pune at 3.30a.m. (*sigh). Our talk is at 10a.m. w00t! We find ourselves chuckling with resignation.

Pune is sethb’s kind of town. This is where most of the Indian language localizers live and work (in particular, Marathi, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati and Kannada), and they’re all attending gnuNify. The enthusiasm and hard work of the students really make sure the trains run on time at this conference. The lead organizer, Professor Harshad Gune, is on the board of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and is one of the driving forces behind introducing open source ideas to the students at Pune’s SICSR (Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research).

sethb and I talk to a capacity crowd for about 3 hours. I talk about the Open Web again, and show all the usual demos (SVG, CSS, CSS+SVG, with Video bringing it all home). I also show Bespin running on localhost. I get some fascinating questions. In particular:

  • Saifi Khan asks me about building Mozilla without any dependencies on Cairo Graphics. His goal is to build Mozilla against Qt. I’m stumped, so I’ve resolved to take this one home with me. Looking at schrep’s legacy “Mozilla Platform” diagram, I wonder if the fact that this isn’t intuitive to do means that our 2D graphics stuff isn’t cleanly separable from the rest of the code?
  • I get asked what Mozilla’s plan for 3D graphics is. Aha! Play with Vlad’s extension for a bit, and stay tuned to this channel for updates on that front.
  • More wailing about memory leaks. That makes three events in a row!
  • sethb’s session on localization introduces Silme and he gets a lot of follow-up questions.

    The next morning was a real treat. Navin Kabra (who also runs Pune Tech) organized a “Breakfast with Mozilla” discussion, where sethb and I got a chance to talk to a bunch of technology entrepreneurs from Pune. The crowd is a really diverse one. We get technologists interested in topics like Bespin,, and Ubiquity, as well as extension authors like the folks from Lipikaar. Someone from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative is in the audience. We also get business folks interested in learning how Mozilla makes money, how extensions can be monetized, and what Mozilla is doing on mobile platforms. I also get a chance to pick the collective brains of the entrepreneurs in the room about how we can increase awareness of Firefox in India. These topics warrant their own blog post.

    5 thoughts on “gnuNify09”

    1. Regarding building Mozilla without dependencies on Cairo – is that actually useful to Mozilla? I appreciate that Qt provides it’s own equivalent functionality, but it seems to me that abstracting the graphics layer enough to support multiple drawing APIs is a lot of extra complexity. Is it worth it?

    2. the trip to pune ranks up there with one of the most exhausting. folks, this is raw evangelism…flying and traveling until nearly 4 AM to speak at a conference the next day by 10 AM. and, like all other spots we visited, we had to be on. this was more than a mozilla-friendly group. these were both contributors and target audience who had remarks for us on how to improve Mozilla and questions about why they should believe in our message.

      pune was bigtime and so was the rest of our journey through india. we have a lot more to do there, but have (in my opinion) started to build more than just a foundation there. we have active community ready to make the industry change that is needed.

    3. Ted: OK, that clears things up. I knew about the Qt port Vlad did, but I guess the question from the GNUnify conference was whether it was possible to strip Cairo out of the build and simply use whatever came with Qt for Gfx, or to introduce something else. Now I know the answer :)

    4. Simon: good question. I should have thrown this right back at the person who asked me this at GNUnify :). I suppose the reason we wrapped Cairo in Thebes was to abstract away the graphics layer somewhat, but it seems convenient to just standardize on Cairo. I wonder *why* someone would want to strip away the dependency on Cairo…

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