Q&A: What it is like to be on the openSUSE Board

7. Jan 2020 | Douglas DeMaio | No License

You already know what a fantastic platform openSUSE is for doing just about anything with Linux. So what’s behind that easy-to-use and super powerful distribution that we know and love, and have come to rely on. In many minds there is a perception that its simply SUSE with the proprietary code stripped out. It’s true that a lot of the development work does flow down from SUSE but there is also an active community of dedicated volunteers who drive and make the project work, adding the goodies we have come to take for granted for the myriad of uses we have come to rely on it for.

It’s election time at openSUSE and the election board asked an existing board member Gertjan who has agreed to step up again and run for re-election of what it is like to be on the board. Below is a transcript of an offline interview between fellow election committee member Edwin and Gertjan highlighting what it’s like to be on the board of openSUSE.

Edwin: Would you like to tell us about your daily schedule and how does being an openSUSE Board member impacts on that?

Gertjan: To be fair, my daily schedule varies a lot, depending on what is on my table. Most of the time this leaves me with enough spare time to do board related things. But before I was on board, I spent that time in openSUSE too, i.e. forums, IRC etc., so the main impact on my daily schedule were the bi-weekly video conference calls. For the rest I just spread the spare time a bit differently. It does take a couple of hours though, on an average week.

Edwin: Do you still remember what motivated you to step up for Board candidacy the first time? And then why a second time?

Gertjan: O, yes, I do. I was asked by Richard whether I had ever considered running for board. My reply was “Hey, you know me, I’m the one that considers others to run”… Followed by a small discussion, a night of sleep, some others asking me to step up as a candidate. All in all, I felt I could not ignore all that, and at least see if the community would have me on board. So basically the community motivated me, and felt I had to go for it. The second time was not much different. And, in both cases, a huge motivation was the love I feel for the project and the people in its community.

Edwin: What was your first task as a Board member?

Gertjan: To read all the docs. Like many people, I had to find out that my impression of what the board does wasn’t accurate.

Edwin: What’s your best memory serving on the openSUSE Board?

Gertjan: Lots of good memories, but to summarize: The learning experience re. all the aspects of the openSUSE Project, the relationship with SUSE.

Edwin: Any negative incident that you recall and would like to share?

Gertjan: I do recall some, yeah. Most of them with the PRIVATE stamp all over them, but the thing I disliked most was me crossing ( a.o. my own ) lines on a couple of occasions.

Edwin: Could you tell us what is the biggest transformation / change in the openSUSE community that you witnessed after becoming Board member?

Gertjan: For me that would be the current process of getting some form of openSUSE Foundation on its feet.

Edwin: How is life as an openSUSE Board member?

Gertjan: Not too bad. I loved the biweekly video meetings, the F2F meetings, working together with people passionate about the project and the community.

Edwin: Any message or suggestion for members unsure about running for Board?

Gertjan: Don’t doubt, do it. It’s fun. And, the project needs you !!!

Edwin: Is there anybody you would like to nominate?

Gertjan: O, yes !!! Stasiek Michalski, a.k.a. hellcp, a.ka. LCP

Edwin: Would you still be involved in the project as your second and last term ends?

Gertjan: No doubt. I’m still a forums admin / mod, mod on Discord, Matrix, Facebook, so I’ll be around on those a bit more after my term ends. And who knows, I might go for another term next year.

So you can see there is no magic to being a board member the main criteria is to have a love for the project and a desire to move it forward. You don’t have to be a geek or niche expert, the project and the board needs all types of skill-sets so if you feel you have some free time and something to contribute jump in and put in your nomination, as Gertjan says “Don’t doubt, do it. It’s fun. And, the project needs you !!!”

This article was revised at 10:35 on Jan. 7, 2020.

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