Stormy Peters is stepping down as GNOME's executive director and heading to Mozilla to work on developer engagement.
In a post on her personal blog today, Peters announced the decision to leave the GNOME Foundation to join Mozilla and work on "pushing freedom on the Web as much as we've pushed for it on the desktop." Peters was hired by GNOME in July of 2008.
As executive director, Peters was primarily responsible for managing relationships with the GNOME advisory board, handling fundraising, helping to coordinate hackfests and other administrative jobs for GNOME. Why has she chosen to leave at this time? The open Web is calling:
I’m going to Mozilla to head up their developer engagement program, focused on the open web! As many of you know, I think we have a complete free and open source solution for the desktop but we still have a lot of work to do on the web. Many of us now depend on web applications that are not only not free but don’t even let us download and protect our own data in reasonable ways. Working on developer engagement at Mozilla will let me dedicate more of my resources to making sure developers have the tools and knowledge they need to create applications on the open web.
(And I should point out that GNOME is hard at work solving the problem of how web applications integrate with the desktop with efforts like libsocialweb in GNOME 3 which will integrate instant messaging and social web sites into your desktop. In addition, applications like Tomboy, Banshee and Rythmbox are all integrating with the web. I hope my work at Mozilla will compliment what GNOME is doing and that we will work together.)
The GNOME Project is at a critical juncture at the moment. The project delayed the release of GNOME 3.0 during the summer to allow for another development cycle to improve the new platform. The new default interface for GNOME, GNOME Shell, has been somewhat controversial with some GNOME participants choosing to opt out of using the new UI. Canonical announced last week that it would be focusing on its own UI called Unity, and the Linux Mint project leader has indicated that the Linux Mint 11 release will likely stick with the GNOME 2.x interface instead of GNOME Shell or Unity.
Despite the challenges, Peters says that GNOME is in good shape as she's leaving her paid position:
In particular I’d like to highlight one that’s at the top of everyone’s mind, GNOME 3.0. I am confident the GNOME community will continue to work hard on GNOME 3.0 and they will release it next spring when it is ready for end users. My leaving will not affect the development of GNOME 3.0. My job was to run the GNOME Foundation to support the GNOME community. I did not set technical direction nor contribute to the code base – the GNOME community, led by the release team, individual contributors and partners, sets the technical direction and does the work. While I will not have as much time to help with things like marketing and partner coordination, because of the GNOME Foundation, GNOME has the resources and funding we need to move forward with GNOME 3 whether it’s hackfests or resources for marketing. Not to mention that we have many partners hard at work on GNOME technologies like Red Hat on Nautilus and Evolution, Igalia and Collabora on WebKitGTK+, Novell on Sabayon and Banshee, Collabora on Empathy and Telepathy, Intel on Clutter, Litl on GObjectInstrospection, Openismus on gtkmm and anjuta, Igalia, Lanedo, Codethink, Red Hat, Openismus and others on GTK+, and many, many more.
Finally, Peters says she's leaving the GNOME Foundation as a paid employee — but not as a contributor. Peters plans to continue being active in GNOME's marketing team, and will be running for a GNOME Foundation board seat in the next election cycle.
Disclaimer: I'm a GNOME Foundation member and occasionally help with GNOME PR.