People of openSUSE: Jos Poortvliet

Please introduce yourself!

Hi there!

I’m Novell’s openSUSE community manager, dutch, workaholic, Free Software evangelist and cooking fanatic!

In openSUSE, I’m mostly active in marketing and working within Novell for openSUSE.

What especially motivates you to participate in the openSUSE project?

Well, my paycheck probably takes care of the first 40 hours I put in, but the other 40 are because openSUSE is cool…

Seriously, openSUSE is fun. It is a challenge – we face issues. But at the same time, there is clear progress, people are working tirelessly towards world domination and we are making steps in that direction. openSUSE has seriously cool technology, things other distro’s don’t – and we are not good at advertising it so there is work to do. And the openSUSE people are awesome, really. A nice bunch, fun to be around, knowledgeable. All that makes me go jump jump and want to keep doing what I do!

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

I would say that the fact we’re the only Linux distro which has its own beer is saying it all. You turn it into a slogan!

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

The communication. We have a lot of people who think talk is not important. Which is probably in part due to the fact that we also have a lot of people who think talk is all that is important. Talk is cheap. If you don’t put your work in but just say “we should do X”, well, that’s not exactly useful I’m afraid. The limiting factor in any Free Software community is not ideas or knowing what to do. It is people who do the work. But at the same time, talk is important. To let others know what you do and prevent duplicate work. And to get the word out on what you do so you get users and new contributors. If you didn’t blog about it, it didn’t happen as far as the rest of the world is concerned…

We have got that balance wrong. Developers stop reading our mailing lists because there are people on it who think they add valuable insight while stating the obvious, again and again. Check out please ;-)

At the same time we don’t get the word out on really valuable technology like YaST, OBS and other things. Yes, we are doing better because our marketing team is becoming more and more active. But they need to know what is going on – and most of our engineers doing cool stuff barely send a mail to -project about it, let alone that they would blog about new features or mail about them! There’s a task there too for people who ‘just hangout on mailing lists’. If you see something cool happen, why not blog about it yourself, or let the marketing team know? And dear developers, if you do something fun – if it’s worth talking about to the dude sitting next to you it is worth writing a blog about it. Nothing fancy, just post a screen shot and say what it is showing; or say it in a few words. A blog doesn’t need to be a book or article!

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

Well, if we get our communication in order, a bright future it will be. We have brilliant people, brilliant technology and strong backing from a company which is determined and pushing forward. And, in my opinion, involved in openSUSE just the way they should be. Not telling people what to do but just contributing and working with people. That’s something we have which other distributions lack!

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

Quit my job so I wouldn’t have to do the administrative part of it and keep doing what I do. Or maybe even better – don’t tell anyone but secretly hire someone to do the paperwork for me and keep the job

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

Any big event in history, but the further back the better. I would really love to have a chat with people like Socrates, Augustinus, Voltaire, Kant & Ghandi; but also see the first civilizations in Mesopothamia or alongside the Indus river in Pakistan (did you know they still build houses there almost like they did 4000 years ago?); walk on an Inca temple which is being build, or see the top stone being put on top of a piramid. Or – imagine the rush of joining a bunch of prehistoric people hunting a mammoth!

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

I do that almost every day, to the despair of colleagues and friends.

Any last words?

Nope, I’ll just keep on talking ;-)