People of openSUSE: Frank Sundermeyer

Frank Sundermeyer

Former webservers administrator and presales consultant at S.u.S.E. he is currently working as a technical writer contributing to the openSUSE documentation and openSUSE web skin an wiki. Today you have the opportunity to meet Frank Sundermeyer!

Please introduce yourself!

I was born in a small German town near Hannover and moved into the Nuremberg area to study Biology. In late 1996 I joined S.u.S.E. as a webmaster and presales consultant. I also did some marketing and product management in the coming years, but my main responsibility always was the SUSE webservers. Shortly after the merger with Novell I joined the documentation team, where my main responsibility lies with the openSUSE documentation. I am married and have three kids, a daughter (3) and her twin brothers (1).

Off work I enjoy bird watching, my fish tanks and plants, riding my motorbike, and reading fantasy and SF. If all this still leaves time, I am digitizing my 1000+ punk and alternative rock long-play records and play (offline) role playing computer games.

Tell us about the background to your computer use.

My first computer was a Sharp MZ731 with a 4 colour ballpen plotter ;-) . I did some very basic Pascal and Basic hacking, but most of the time just played Defender and Chess on it. That was in 1983/1984. I entirely stopped using computers until the early 90s where I wrote a 200+ pages report on a friend’s x86 286 with a 2MB hard drive using emTeX under DOS. My first real personal computer was a P60 (suffering from the famous Pentium bug). After a year playing with Windows 3.11, I installed S.u.S.E. Linux.

When and why did you start using openSUSE/SUSE Linux?

My first SUSE version was S.u.S.E. Linux 4.2. That was summer 1996. A friend of mine who was working at S.u.S.E. gave it to me because I was so impressed by the virtual desktops when he showed 4.2 to me. I still vividly remember how much I disliked the default SUSE fvwm2 theming, so first thing I tried to do was to change it (I only succeeded after getting a copy of O’Reilly’s “Running Linux”).

When did you join the openSUSE community and what made you do that?

I would say that I joined the community in 1996, because since then I own the SUSE webmaster mail account and therefore have daily contact with SUSE/openSUSE users.

In what way do you participate in the openSUSE project?

I already mentioned the account. Together with Robert also developed and implemented the current openSUSE web skin and helped to develop and set up the Lessons for Lizards (Lfl) project. I regularly do maintenance work on the wiki, too (although I wish I had more time for it).

What especially motivates you to participate in the openSUSE project?

Giving my share back to the community who developed the great software I am using daily.

What do you think was your most important contribution to the openSUSE project/community or what is the contribution that you’re most proud of?

The most important contribution is probably the work on the webmaster mails. The majority of the mails to the webmaster are support questions and I try to help everybody as best as I can. But the contribution I am most proud of is the current openSUSE web skin.

When do you usually spend time on the openSUSE project?

Most of the time at work and sometimes also during the evenings and week-ends.

Three words to describe openSUSE? Or make up a proper slogan!

“Kraftvoll” – the German word for powerful, which we used quite often in the early days of S.u.S.E.

What do you think is missing or underrated in the distribution or the project?

Nothing openSUSE specific, but sometimes the wheel is reinvented once too often, I think. It’s too often “let’s do the same thing but different” rather than “let’s make this thing better by contributing to it”.

What do you think the future holds for the openSUSE project?

I hope the number of installations will continue to grow, so openSUSE will finally arrive on the desktops. I also wish that the reputation of openSUSE in the overall Linux community will become better, because we deserve it!

A person asks you why he/she should choose openSUSE instead of other distribution/OS. What would be your arguments to convince him/her to pick up openSUSE?

Because openSUSE has got a very dedicated community, the best choice of prebuild software packages and by far the best administration tool.

Which members of the openSUSE community have you met in person?

Too many to list.

How many icons are currently on your desktop?


What is the application you can’t live without? And why?

Cowsay. Thanks to Paul G. for introducing me to this most useful application at FOSDEM this year.OK, just kidding. I really couldn’t live without amaroK. I couldn’t live without listening to music and once you have used amaroK you definitely don’t want to use any other music player.

Which application or feature should be invented as soon as possible?

A consistent help system throughout Linux (at least for the GUI part) with useful content. This is one area where Linux is way behind Windows.

Which is your preferred text editor? And why?

emacs, because it’s the one I am most familiar with. But I also use vi.

Which famous person would you want to join the openSUSE community?

On the one hand I am very curious to get to know what would happen if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs officially would declare their support for openSUSE, on the other hand I wish they will never ever do it. ;-)

Which computer related skills would you like to have?

Being a real programmer.

The Internet crashes for a whole week — how would you feel, what would you do?

It would probably feel very unfamiliar, but I would make use of it and spend time with my wife and kids and go bird watching.

Which is your favorite movie scene?

The end of Thelma & Louise. By driving over the cliff, the two keep their recently acquired freedom instead of going into captivity again.

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Definitely Star Trek, although I am very fond of Star Wars, too.

What is your favorite food and drink?

Thai Curry and red wine.

Favorite game or console (in your childhood and nowadays)?

Defender on my Sharp MZ731 and nowadays it’s (still) Baldur’s Gate II.

Which city would you like to visit?

Angkor Watt.

What is your preferred way to spend your vacation?

Backpacking holiday.

Someone gives you $1.000.000 — what would you do with the money?

Build or buy a house for my family.

If traveling through time was possible — when would we be most likely to meet you?

Nowhere particular, but I would be very interested in seeing how the landscape looked like before men changed everything.

There’s a thunderstorm outside — do you turn off your computer?


Have your ever missed an appointment because you forgot about it while sitting at your computer?

Yes, but only once.

Show us a picture of something, you have always wanted to share!

You couldn’t live without…

Listening to music.

Which question was the hardest to answer?

The next one…

What other question would you like to answer? And what would you answer?

…therefore it’s intentionally left blank ;-) .