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2003/02/04 - Damien Sandras


An interview conducted by Alain Buret
Alain Buret - There is someone particular in the FOSDEM speaker this year, like for the previous editions : Damien Sandras is a FOSDEM core team member, and the well-known author of the famous GnomeMeeting video-conferencing application ... What was the reason for creating Gnomemeeting ?

Damien Sandras - I always wanted to contribute to the Free Software world. I discovered it a few years ago and I absolutely wanted to contribute with something to this new and exciting world in the computer science industry. I was studying here at the "Université Catholique de Louvain" to graduate as an engineer in computer sciences. As every student, I had to write a dissertation to in order to graduate, and I proposed to the professor in charge of me to create a Free Software, so that my work could be used in the years following its creation. We discussed and agreed that creating a videoconferencing application for GNU/Linux was rather innovative and a good idea. GnomeMeeting was born!

Alain Buret - What makes Gnomemeeting "the alternative" videoconferencing application ?

Damien Sandras - GnomeMeeting has been designed for GNU/Linux which is the "alternative" Operating System. Moreover, proprietary Operating Systems tend to specialize themselves in the Instant Messenging area. They are merging two products in one : Instant Messenging and Videoconferencing. I prefer to code in GnomeMeeting with regard to its specialization in one unique area (videoconferencing), as well as trying to produce the best and the most powerful videoconferencing application possible.

Alain Buret - Why did you code GnomeMeeting as Free Software ?

Damien Sandras - I think that it is for fun... People have passions and hobbies in life, such as sports, watching TV, cooking, ... One of my passions is coding. Coding on a Free Software project is a way of producing good quality code (it is Open Source and reviewed by lots of people) while you code something you like to code. When you are working for a company, I think it is not very frequent to enjoy coding what the company is requesting you to code. I continued to code on the project after the first release because I enjoyed coding on it, but also because people seemed to be interested in GnomeMeeting and in using it. I continue to receive congratulation mails regularly and it is always a great moment for me to read those because when people take the time to write a mail to congratulate you, it means that they really appreciate your work.

Alain Buret - What's the future of Linux ? Will it survive ?

Damien Sandras - Yes of course, I think that GNU/Linux already won the servers battle. Nobody can tell that Windows is better than Linux to deploy stable and powerful servers. The next challenge is to win the desktop battle. I'm not sure GNU/Linux is able to do it because people are used to other Operating Systems and even if they are unstable, they are used to them and changing people's habits when they have been using something for years, is very hard.

Alain Buret - What are the main goals of GnomeMeeting ?

Damien Sandras - Providing a powerful videoconferencing application. But GnomeMeeting is not only limited to videoconferencing, it is mainly a VOIP application or an IP Telephony software. It has the ability to be integrated in existing company networks, even if they are running Windows Software. It is for example able to register on gatekeepers, do videoconferencing with several participants, do PC-To-Phone calls, but also able to cope with Quicknet hardware (basically you plug you phone into the Quicknet card and you wait for calls, your phone then reacts like a normal phone except that the call is done through the internet).

Alain Buret - What are the current plans for the next versions of GnomeMeeting?

Damien Sandras - Bring new and easy configuration features to permit people to make PC-To-Phone calls at interesting rates, add SIP support, add an answering machine inside GnomeMeeting, ... But the short-term plan is to achieve a 1.0 release as stable as possible. Our latest tests have permitted to demonstrate that GnomeMeeting is able to do more than 1500 calls without crashing (actually we stopped it after 1500 calls).


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