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LinuxCon Preview: Stormy Peters on Desktops, Data and Clouds

As part of our LinuxCon Preview series, I recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of our keynote speaker Stormy Peters. Peters today is executive director for The GNOME Foundation. Her LinuxCon keynote, titled "Your Desktop is Free, But Where is Your Data," takes place on Thursday, August 12, at 9 a.m. ET.

You’re delivering a keynote at LinuxCon that explores the idea that while your desktop may be free, your data may not be. Can you elaborate a little bit and give us a teaser for your talk?

Peters: Many of us use a completely free and open source desktop. And then we store all our data in the "cloud" in applications like Flickr, Gmail and Facebook. While that's not necessarily bad, it means it may not be as easy to get as you think. And your data may no longer be just yours!

A number of sessions will discuss the state of the Linux desktop. How do you define the desktop today and what kind of progress still needs to happen?

Peters: I think the GNOME desktop today has realized its mission to be a free desktop accessible to everyone. Now we are working on making it easy to use in today's context of new devices, web apps and social networking.

How does virtualization and cloud computing impact the desktop user experience? What can we do to ensure freedom on the desktop?

Peters: Many desktop users (if not all of them!) are using web applications. We need to make sure that those feel like extensions of the desktop and that the functionality and data complies with the ideals behind free software.

With the rise in application availability on mobile devices, companies and organizations are placing a lot of emphasis on making their platforms the easiest on which to build apps. What do developers really need and want out of an SDK?

Peters: I think with the rise of mobile apps, developers want tools they are familiar with and a way to start developing *now* so that they can get their app done tomorrow and start making money.

Here’s your chance to plug GNOME. What are the latest from the GNOME community?


Peters: GNOME 3! GNOME 3 is coming out this fall and it will make it easier for you to focus on your tasks and get notified, but not interrupted, by everything happening in your network. We'll also have better
documentation, more apps, etc.

I love reading your book reviews. What are you reading now?


Peters: I am reading, "Drive," by Dan Pink. His book "A Whole New Mind" started a lot of my thinking around free software developers and motivations.

I recently finished "Confessions of a Public Speaker," by Scott Berkun and I really enjoyed it. He gives some good practical advise on public speaking combined with some funny stories.



 

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