openSUSE:Board election 2012 platform robertschweikert

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Note: This page is used by the candidate of the board election as a platform to show his views and answer some standard questions.

Introduction and Biography

My name is Robert Schweikert and in good geek fashion I will separate the various parts of me into smaller pieces.

Away from the computer

I live with my wife and two teenage children in Massachusetts, USA, about 45 minutes outside of Boston. Whenever I get a chance I ride the back roads of New England (as the North Eastern part of the US is commonly known) on my Harley and once a year I take a longer trip on the bike for a week or so to get away and let the Grey matter between the ears rest/reset. I am an avid soccer (as it is called around here, or football in the rest of the world) fan, following the German Bundesliga from afar.

Professional background

By training I am a Mechanical Engineer that got bitten by the software bug when I wrote my Master Thesis about Cryosurgery in the Lung. I developed my own Finite Element Analysis program (written in Fortran) and have worked on Software ever since. For 10 years I worked at a company developing FEA (Finite Element Analysis) software products where I worked on various aspects of a very large code base written in Fortran, C, and C++. At some point I ported the applications to work on Linux and as a fan of SUSE the application was built on SLES. The same binaries were used to support the other enterprise distribution. The porting of the applications to Linux led me to work on application architecture, build system and componentization implementation, as well as low level infrastructure in the application such as memory management and I/O layer code. Following an unfortunate 18 month professional misstep in my career I started at SUSE and have been working in the ISV Engineering team for almost 4 years.

When the fingers are on the keyboard

Within the SUSE ISV Engineering team I focus on the SUSE-IBM relationship on the Software level. I also get involved with other ISVs when there are technical issues in getting their applications running on SUSE or in the creation of Integrated Systems that contain SLES and a given vendor's application. When IBM and ISVs do not fill up my calendar I contribute to KIWI, work on openSUSE, and am an active member of the LSB Working Group. Our great project also gets a fair share of my spare time. My focus of contributions varies based on my perception of "current topics" and longer standing issues and needs. Currently my focus is our maintainer-ship model, see my talks at oSC12 Something Is Busted...Food For Thought and House Cleaning Is Necessary...Package Maintainers Step Up. In the past I have contributed to various governance discussions such as membership, guiding principals and other topics. I maintain a few packages in the distribution and have my fingers in the Clouds. I also played a small role in putting the openSUSE Summit program together for our first event in North America.

Strong beliefs

One of my strong beliefs is that people meet their expectations, meaning that if one expects nothing one gets nothing. On the other hand, expect something reasonable that can also be challenging, and people will rise to the occasion. Everyone likes to have success and loves the feeling of accomplishment. If there are no expectations there is nothing to accomplish and things languish. Further I strongly believe in responsibility, respect, and helping others succeed.

Issues I see from my corner of the world

As a member of the community I often have the feeling that the board is a hidden amorphous entity that just drifts along in the flow of the project. For a while we "lost" the project meeting and "visible" board activity dropped to basically 0. I support the current effort underway to re-energize the bi-weekly project meeting with a short "standing agenda" that leaves room for current "hot topics". In the grand scheme of things I'd like to see the board to be more active in project guidance and actively solicit involvement and leadership in areas where action is needed. For example I think it would be great if we as a community can stand up a mentor ship program. I believe active leadership by the board would have a major positive impact on such an initiative. Another example is the area of contribution to the project. While collectively we have done a great job in "making it easy" to contribute we have also, IMHO, created many areas where "paralysis by choice" exists and/or it is "hard" to contribute because "it is so easy" or there is no guidance. I believe the board should take an active look at those areas of the project and actively solicit ideas and action to address the issues.

Role of the Board

I believe the Board needs to be an active member of the community and provide guidance to the project in areas where individual community member efforts may not be sufficient to generate sufficient traction, such as a mentor program. This does not imply that the board rules. One great aspect of our community is that we grow around areas of individual contributor's interests and everyone has unparalleled freedom to choose their own level of involvement and contribution. This, however, as mentioned above, has also created absence of guidance which makes it hard for new members to get going. This is where I see the role of the board expand in facilitating various groups of the project to provide rough and general guidelines that help new contributors to get a foothold and overcome the "paralysis by freedom" paradox. I also believe that the board should formulate opinions and communicate those when issues of governance are discussed on the ML.


If elected to the Board

  • I will encourage all board members to take a more active role as a board in the community.
  • I will try to find ways to improve the communication of the board about activities and initiatives