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openSUSE:Board election 2012 platform mbarringer

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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've used Linux since the mid '90s (although, truth be told, I mostly stuck with FreeBSD and BeOS on my desktops until the 2.4 kernel was released). I've worked for SUSE/Novell since 2005, when Novell bought Immunix, the company I worked for, and folded us all into the SUSE group. A few years after that, I moved to Nuremberg to work on SUSE Studio.

My involvement in openSUSE has mostly been behind the scenes - I was a mentor in our Google Summer of Code participation in 2011, an admin for our Google Code-In participation that year, and an admin for Google Summer of Code in 2012. I wrote the "imagewriter" program that a lot of people use to write live openSUSE images to USB keys, and I also wrote the Android app for viewing the openSUSE Conference and Summit schedules this year, as well as various bits and bobs that have been in the distribution over the years.

Major Issues

I think that one of the biggest opportunities openSUSE is missing right now is a program to connect interested people (students or not) with mentors from our large pool of skilled community members. I don't mean a schedule-based program like the Google Summer of Code, but a year-round way to connect someone who is interested in working on a project that uses Technology Y with someone who knows Technology Y and would be happy to spend an hour a week as a mentor. Or someone who wants to package some obscure application, or who wants to help translate software but doesn't know how to start, etc.

That's something that has been kicked around as an idea for the last few years, and it's certainly something that could be put in place by people who are *not* board members, but perhaps if it were a board initiative, it could get better traction.

Minor Issues

The board is not very visible. In general, I don't consider that a "major issue", since as long as they're carrying out their mandate, visibility within the community isn't as important as actually doing their job. But I suspect that if you asked everyone subscribed to the project mailing list, "What does the board do?" you wouldn't get many useful answers. I would like to see more visibility there, even if it's just the tedium of bureaucratic decisions.

Also, it would be great if we had a foundation, but I assume the reasons why one hasn't been set up yet are very good ones.

Role of the board

The board should primarily be about resolving conflicts, representing openSUSE to corporate interests, and doing what it can to make sure that the wheels of the project turn smoothly. That should include financial transparency, as much as privacy allows.

Beyond that, it should do what it can to encourage and support ideas that come up from the community. I don't think that it should decide the project strategy, or be involved in technical discussions unless there's no other way to resolve a conflict.

Why you should vote for me?

All of the candidates have similar platforms, and we all clearly want to do our best to help openSUSE continue to be the world's best Linux distro, so I suspect that you'll be voting for a person, rather than what that person intends to do should they be elected. My positive points:

  • I have many years of experience with open-source, and in SUSE in particular.
  • I'm fond of consensus and compromise, but I'm not fond of endless debating.
  • I am perfectly comfortable herding cats, and can be counted upon to reliably herd them.

Also, I'm a good drinking companion, a responsible driver, a caring human being, and reasonably decent at trivia games.


Were I on the board, I would:

  • Promote openSUSE, and open-source in general, by founding a mentorship program
  • As a subset or counterpart to a mentorship program, work on starting an outreach program specifically for women similar to GNOME's program
  • Improve board visibility. I don't see why the board couldn't send out work reports on a regular schedule (bi-weekly, monthly, whatever makes the most sense), for example.


Room for your supporters to leave a word about you