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openSUSE:Board election 2010 platform psankar

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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

I am Sankar. I have been associated with the openSUSE project ever since its inception. I am from India/APAC.

I am a programmer at heart. I like Packaging and Community building. I love Legal things. I enjoy philosophy and psychology. I am one of the members of the opensource review board in Novell, which specializes in copyrights, licensing, usage of open-source software in Novell products etc. I intend to get a part-time legal degree as well in the future, so as to supplement my engineering skills.

In the past I have worked as the maintainer of Evolution mailer. I relicensed Evolution from GPL to LGPL. I am working as an ambassador of openSUSE and is involved in marketing of it. I have authored an edition of Linux Identity - an English magazine out of France, for openSUSE 11.1 release . In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, I worked with the state Government to decide the syllabus for a paper named open-source in Indian Engineering colleges. I also worked with the engineering college lecturers to train them on Linux and openSUSE. I have talked about openSUSE and distributed hundreds of DVDs to various college students.

Currently, I am working as part of the openSUSE GNOME and Marketing teams. I am known to be forthright and speaking my mind yet not affecting any individual in the community personally. I will continue to remain so.

From a technical perspective, Working with teams: I migrated evolution summary storage from flatfile to sqlite db, implemented support to write Evolution plugins using C#, Patch to bootchart to know which processes grind your disk on boot how long, implemented sqlite-commander, worked on both kernel space and user space.

I have a blog as well and I tend to get proud of my writings and reader-count at times, even though it is not spectacular always ;)

In my free time, I enjoy reading a lot and once made a crazy video as well:

Short Term Tasks

The near-future high priority tasks (as opposed to major Issues) that I believe the board will be involved with are:

+ Setting up the Foundation

+ Transfer of copyrights & trademarks

+ Putting up the new processes for the functioning of the new board and the foundation

+ Bridging the community and the new owner of Novell (Attachmate).

+ Supporting the two new initiatives of Tumbleweed and Evergreen. May be if Tumbleweed succeeds on a longer term, we may not need Evergreen. But as for the foreseeable future, we need both the projects.

Long Term Tasks

The long term tasks which are equally valuable, that I believe the board (and not just me), if I get elected, will pursue are:

+ Maintain a healthy community with no discomfort based on race, gender or religion and create a place where everyone feels comfortable.

+ Improve the communication of stakeholders. Improve the signal-to-noise ratio in the mailing lists, forums etc.

+ Make openSUSE an attractive development platform for all types of programmers (Android App. writers, Web developers, Java developers etc.)

+ Do what it takes to improve the participation of women in our community. This involves things like Making our conferences compliant to

Women t-shirts on our events, resurrection of the mailing list, providing mentorship in events like GSOC, etc. Ubuntu-women community seems to be doing good and we could learn a lesson or two from there. It will be best done by Women than Men and the board should assist it in all the ways. We have capable women in our community, who can do these activities. (For me, the idea of improve women participation and harassment-prevention became interesting, when a person whom I admire, Kathy Sierra stopped her work due to harassment)

+ Ensure our distro is very accessibility friendly and can be used by people who are differently abled.

+ Eliminate Poisonous people who are unskilled and causes splits. Disinfect the people who are skilled but affected.

+ Make sure openSUSE Marketing and Weekly-News teams get good interactions with the rest of the teams for a better external image of our distro.

+ Don't Panic ;-)

Ideas for the board

We should make our distro more developer friendly and look for new opportunities to expand. Having strategic partnerships with people like github, google-code etc. to work with OBS is one example of it, Making OBS accessible via open-id etc.

We should resume Bryen's initiative of HelpingHands, where who work upstream from openSUSE to talk and share about their product.

Improve our videos section. Get the events like openSUSE conferences videotapped and help them reach a wider audience, who cannot afford to travel.


I have been involved with GNOME more than KDE in openSUSE and so I have added this section, as it is one of the sensitive topics of openSUSE (and a perennial problem as well)

Applications constitute a desktop. Each desktop has its own set of applications and strengths. GNOME has focussed more on usability and solving the needs of a typical office/home user. Exchange Server, Novell GroupWise connectivity, ability to see one's appointments for the day from the tray Calendar, Buying music online from media player, LibreOffice interaction, Tomboy etc. are some examples of its strengths. KDE otoh has a lot of developer friendly applications. It has a rich repertoire of developer tools that no other desktop has, such as KCachegrind, Kompare, KScope etc. It does not restrict you and allows to customize anything and everything. Compare preferences page of Kate and gedit.

Both desktops have their share of weaknesses. The browsers of both desktops are far from considering for daily usage. Both of them lack a decent offline blogging client (check windows live writer before you suggest the existing solutions). Both of them don't hug the cloud data nicely yet. (no reliable out-of-the-box way to manipulate Google Docs list in Nautilus/konqueror for eg.)

Most of the serious developers I know of use applications from both desktops. Also, they use external applications like Skype which doesn't belong to either of GNOME or KDE. I, personally, login to a GNOME desktop, and use applications of: thunar (xfce file manager), gnome-do app. launcher (mono), chromium (google) or FF (mozilla), kompare patchviewer (KDE), Wally (kde), vim, git etc. As Linus once said, I use the right tool that does the job best.

Most of the arguments on GNOME vs KDE (vs instead of &) happens because of blind fanboys. These are the people who take sides and sees the world in Black and white and eat only one flavor of icecream. Most of the times, the people who catalyze these fights are of no practical use to the distribution and are intent on promoting their personal agenda. Just like how politicians polarize people into a "It's Us vs Them" during wars, these people also drag the real contributors of our distro into a war mode. It is saddening that we as a distro has lost a lot of valuable time in these desktop wars. The desktop wars have already alienated some key contributors and we should not lose anymore.

If I am elected as a board member, I would like to work on spreading the unique nature of distro, to offer the best GNOME and KDE desktops. I personally believe that Linux on Desktop is understaffed by almost all the Linux companies and focus is more on the servers. I am optimistic that we as a distro is capable of generating enough enthusiasm for desktop linux, Reasons: We have both the desktops that appeal to all geographies, people are no longer sticking to their windows apps. and want to move to the cloud, the price of hardware is falling down making it hard to hide the cost of windows, etc.

Another goal of mine will be to terminate these wars in the beginning stage itself, by concluding poisonous mail threads as and when they are started, by summoning the interested parties in an IRC meeting. It is a better thing to do instead of fighting over mails, and attracting poisonous people.


Another topic that at times gains some talk is about Mono. My opinion on mono is as follows. There are two perspectives given. Feel free to read/ignore any section as you wish.

From a programmer perspective: C is a tough language to write applications which have to be managed for long. As a programmer from India, where a lot of maintenance projects are sent, I know how cruel C can be. For a company, If the project you are going to develop is not going to be as impactful as the linux kernel, both financially and performance wise, it is better to implement it in a language which takes care of memory management thus eliminating lots of crashes and leaks.

Anyone who has written or maintained large scale code, can tell you, type-safety is a very very vital part of programming. C# provides this as opposed to languages like python, out of the box, at compile time itself. It provides runtime dynamic typing as well. Also, it provides certain modern elements of programming like humongous collection of classes in a rich Library, LINQ, Generics, Delegates, ParallelExtensions, Platform Independence, Async etc. These are geek porn. IMHO, C# is the Chuck Norris of programming languages. Stackoverflow stats have shown that queries on C# are increasing every year. So, I have all reasons to love the Mono project.

From a political perspective: In our current scenario, C# is a much safer language than Java, politically.

A claim that is often made is, MSFT may sue if you use Mono. It is wrong. Please refer to ECMA specifications and the MSFT community commitment. Also, if MSFT wants to sue, they can sue not just Mono, they can sue any language, say Python, Java, etc. MSFT even made official statements that using Moonlight or Monodroid will not be sued by them.

A considerable number of corporate and college intranet servers run ASP.NET. We need to provide a way to switch these people to Linux without asking them to rewrite their web applications.

So politically as well I believe we benefit by Mono and we should love it. Infact, openSUSE should be the best distribution for mono development.

Are there things to improve synergistically between Mono and openSUSE ? Yes, A lot.

Why you should vote for me?

Primary Reason: I feel I am qualified to be a board member with my expertise on community building, legal aspects, communication skills and technology.

Auxiliary Reason: A board (or any organization for that matter) needs to have good diversity for a healthy life. I believe I am unique and different from the rest of the board members on few key aspects.

Though Programming or FOSS-Licensing is not a requirement to be a board member, a board will benefit from having a programmer. AFAICS, I am the only person who is a programmer in my day job among the current list of contestants and board members. Programming is very relevant to a board's job but not a direct requirement.

Almost all of the current board members and contestants are from the western world. I am from the eastern world. Electing me will help having atleast one board member online 24x7 and will add to the cultural and geographical diversity of the board.


If you like to endorse me, this area is for you :-)

Psankar: awesome. What you do for openSUSE, despite all the push back you get - incredible. I deeply respect you for it and would place my trust in you as openSUSE Board member - jospoortvliet

Psankar: If anyone talks about openSUSE in India, they start with mentioning you being the ambassador :) FACE of openSUSE in India. For people with the power to vote, pitch in for Sankar. The commitment that Sankar brings to the project would add a lot of value. A crazy guy whose life revolves around getting things done with/for openSUSE. - abharath

Sankar: I can see openSUSE's future with you being the Board Member. We definitely need at least one programmer on board. All the best ;) . --Shayon 10:26, 6 January 2011 (MST)

I would like to see Sankar as part of the board. Even within Novell India, he has been the "goto person" for openSUSE related things. We get promotional materials, gist of the meetings, tips & tricks, known issues & work-arounds from him. He could summarize loooong mail-threads in lists with the essence of it. I wish him all the best and request the rest to vote for him. --Nikanth 01:32, 7 January 2011 (MST)

I would like to see him as a Board Member. All the points above stated are absolutely true. What I like most about him is his foresight, he can see through things and accurately pin point problems and offcourse find solutions to it. I will place my trust on him. Manugupt1 13:04, 7 January 2011 (MST)

  • I believe that Sankar is one of the best candidates for this elections, if not the best. I hope the community can support his claim to the Board, which I believe to be one of the best applications. You have my vote and my trust. Nelson Marques
  • I too believe that Sankar would be a great member of our Board. Claes Backstrom