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openSUSE:Board election 2019 platform vinzv
Introduction, Biography and Contributions
My name is Vinzenz Vietzke but sticking with the much short "vinz" or "vinzv" is what I prefer. I'm 35 years, live in a small town in southern Germany. Like most German Linux users around my age I made my first steps with S.u.S.E. back in the late 90s. Over the years I moved across various distributions and contributed to quite a few of them in different ways. My day job is product management and marketing at Linux hardware vendor TUXEDO Computers.
openSUSE and TUXEDO
Starting with just one laptop running openSUSE we at TUXEDO now offer around 20 different models plus a wide range of desktop PCs all with Leap 15 pre-installed. Customers also get free lifetime support for their preinstalled system. Therefore of course our free phone/email tech support team need to be trained for openSUSE as well. For this whole project I was and still am in charge as the tech and project lead so to say to "bring" openSUSE on TUXEDO's computers. I got in touch with oS, worked out how and when we get everything done.
In addition to technical affairs I'm the pushing person at TUXEDO Computers to make our company step up supporting openSUSE. As a result since October 2018 we are officially sponsoring the openSUSE project. We offer any of our models as demo and workshop devices at no cost and take care for the logistics and event booth support. Furthermore we're sponsoring oSC19 in Nuremberg with demo and install fest machines.
Of course these things are mainly financial efforts and company internal projects. But yet to get openSUSE a wider reception there needs to be someone coordinating, pushing and taking care. That's why I call my contributions to openSUSE mostly "meta contributions".
Besides the TUXEDO stuff which is partly paid and partly free time efforts I'm coordinating translation teams of upstream Xfce, actively translating openSUSE and quite a lot of other projects. For details please check my profiles at Crowdin, Gnome, Transifex as well as my personal website.
Like every volunteer-run project openSUSE has it's issues to tackle. Most of them are obvious and already under work: consolidating web appearances, cleaning the wiki, sorting out the communication infrastructure and possible extensions to it. I don't think there's anything further needed to push these things besides time. The board has done a really awesome job in the past on these things and surely will in the future.
Major and Minor Issues
One of the major issues I experience is public reception like in how openSUSE as a distribution is seen. When people talk about openSUSE they're mostly telling from their experiences they made (literally!) a decade ago. You ran into some YaST issues in 2011 and this is why you stopped recommending openSUSE and you never ever re-thought your opinion? Jeez. These memories need to get overhauled and put into correct contexts. Most of them are prejudices anyway.
On the other side people who have heard about Linux but hardly any knowledge mostly equate one specific distribution with Linux. Though it's not technically correct end-users do this - which is fine. But they don't equate it with openSUSE and that is shame. oS really has come a long way and is easy to install, to run and to use. People just need to know about and this is where the prejudices mentioned earlier come into play. The "tech guy" inside a circle of friends is some multiplier and needs to be convinced that openSUSE is something he totally can recommend in good conscience.
Role of the board
From my perspective the board has two main roles: First and foremost it is some kind of service provider. It serves the whole project as contact point for questions, projects coordination and pointing in directions etc. This is crucial for the whole openSUSE project and should never be changed but merely extended if possible.
The second role might be named as "ideas sparking pot". Most ideas coming from the community are of a technical nature which is entirely logical. Just sometimes there are things that the whole project would benefit from but no one sees them or has time to do so. This is where the board could jump in throwing sparks and giving input from someone being able to take a step back for viewing the bigger picture.
My role in this board team would both being approachable and helpful for part one. But also to give thoughts and ideas when needed, especially in the second part mentioned.
Why you should vote for me?
I've been into Linux and open source communities for about 10 years now. Though I'm not a long term contributor for openSUSE I know how "things work" in such a big, diverse project and how to handle this stuff. If you want to get someone with no "Geeko glasses" on you should vote for me. Not that being deeply inside openSUSE's community is a bad thing! But I can bring in new perspectives, most of them related to end-users, Windows-ditchers and curious but not tech-savvy people. I both understand developers and tech people on the one hand as well as people who are buying Linux preinstalled hardware with little will to tinker around. This way I act as some proxy between those worlds which in the end might be good for everyone involved.
As elaborated above my main goal boils down to people thinking of easy but powerful Linux when they hear openSUSE. The project in total is big and strong enough to really serve as "the makers' choice for sysadmins, developers and desktop users" - all of them!
Questions & Answers
In the run-up to the election all candidates of the community are of course open for questions. I have answered a catalogue of 5 questions from Gerald Pfeifer, currently chairman of the board, and would like to make it available here.
1. What do you see as three, four strenghts of openSUSE that we should cultivate and build upon?
1) Variety of features OpenSUSE is mostly recognized for the distributions Leap and Tumbleweed. The broad scale of different sub-projects and them fitting together is a big strength. We should find a way to get oS associated with the whole project bits like YaST, OBS, openQA etc.
2) “Heritage” Linux distributions come and go, some stay for years, others vanish in the depths of the internet. OpenSUSE has been around for decades now and needs to plot twist that fact towards a recognition as reliable friend for running computers.
3) Permission-free community The openSUSE community lives from people that just do things and try to convince others by results. That is not usual everywhere in FOSS. Some other communities try to streamline things into committees and head honchos.
2. What are the top three risks you see for openSUSE? (And maybe ideas how to tackle them?)
1) Getting forgotten 2) Staying unknown in some parts 3) Stewing in our own juice
There might be other risks as well but these three all fit into one major topic: communication – or more the lack of it.
My idea to tackle this is to revive (somehow) and to push the marketing team as a driving spot for everything going from openSUSE towards the rest of the world. There are already initiatives to write articles, talk to community people in interviews and to create new marketing material. This of course needs coordination and manpower, but is already taking off quite good.
The marketing team I have in mind is an initiative working in two directions: Besides doing things on our own I want to have it open for people dropping ideas, wishes and projects. Members can open tickets, non-Members can send emails or join chat rooms to explain what they want or need. Marketing people then either fulfill the request by themselves or try to find someone willing to do that, e.g. in artwork, l10n or any other appropriate team.
The main goal is to keep a constant stream of interesting content towards the rest of the community and to anyone outside openSUSE.
The answer to the following question extends this point a bit more.
3. What should the board do differently / more of?
Communicate. Though most people here (including me) don’t like the hierarchy thing it’s something that should not be left unused. In short: if the board says something, it is widely recognized as something important and official. Being that only partly true and diametrically positioned against of what the board really is (a “servant” to the community), it sure is a way to gain attention for the whole project.
As a quick shot example: pick relevant stuff from the board meeting notes, make a monthly posting on news-o-o, add a nice “board news” badge.
4. If you had a blank voucher from the SUSE CEO for one wish, what would that be?
I’d go for easing up processes with Heroes and tech infrastructure. Though being not into the details anyhow I often hear about things going slowly and needing lots of poking. And I assume what’s visible public there is only the tip of the iceberg.
5. What is your take on the Foundation? What do you consider a realistic outcome of that endeavour? (And if different, what outcome would you like to see?)
Having SUSE involved with community stuff like legal and budget issues will most likely never been gone. And it would feel wrong to try to cut all connections there. But my guess and hope for the foundation is that it will make things more clear and separated.
Ask me anything
If you made it this far - thanks for your time and interest. For any questions, comments or disagreements feel free to contact me. I appreciate any of it via: