People of openSUSE: An Interview with Ish Sookun

13. Feb 2020 | Douglas DeMaio | No License

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean (20°2’ S, 57°6’ E), called Mauritius. I work for a company that supports me in contributing to the openSUSE Project. That being said, we also heavily use openSUSE at the workplace.

Tell us about your early interaction with computers ? How your journey with Linux got started?

My early interaction with computers only started in the late years of college and I picked up Linux after a few students who were attending the computer classes back then whispered the term “Linux” as a super complicated thing. It caught my attention and I got hooked ever since. I had a few years of distro hopping until in 2009 I settled down with openSUSE.

Can you tell us more about your participation in openSUSE and why it started?

I joined the “Ambassador” program in 2009, which later was renamed to openSUSE Advocate, and finally the program was dropped. In 2013, I joined the openSUSE Local Coordinators to help coordinating activities in the region. It was my way of contributing back. During those years, I would also test openSUSE RCs and report bugs, organize local meetups about Linux in general (some times openSUSE in particular) and blog about those activities. Then, in 2018 after an inspiring conversation with Richard Brown, while he was the openSUSE Chairman, I stepped up and joined the openSUSE Elections Committee, to volunteer in election tasks. It was a nice and enriching learning experience along with my fellow election officials back then, Gerry Makaro and Edwin Zakaria. I attended my first openSUSE Conference in May 2019 in Nuremberg. I did a presentation on how we’re using Podman in production in my workplace. I was extremely nervous to give this first talk in front of the openSUSE community but I met folks who cheered me up. I can’t forget the encouragement from Richard, Gertjan, Harris, Doug, Marina and the countless friends I made at the conference. Later during the conference, I was back on the stage, during the Lightning Talks, and I spoke while holding the openSUSE beer in one hand and the microphone in the other. Nervousness was all gone thanks to the magic of the community.

Edwin and Ary told me about their activities in Indonesia, particularly about the openSUSE Asia Summit. When the CfP for oSAS 2019 was opened, I did not hesitate to submit a talk, which was accepted, and months later I stood among some awesome openSUSE contributors in Bali, Indonesia. It was a great Summit where I discovered more of the openSUSE community. I met Gerald Pfeifer, the new chairman of openSUSE, and we talked about yoga, surrounded by all of the geeko fun, talks and workshops happening.

Back to your question, to answer the second part about “why openSUSE”, I can safely, gladly and proudly say that openSUSE was (and still is) the most welcoming community and easiest project to start contributing to.

Tea or coffee?

Black coffee w/o sugar please.

Can you describe us the work of the Election Committee ? What challenges is it facing when elections time comes?

An election official should be familiar with the election rules. These help us plan an election and set the duration for every phase. The planning phase is crucial and it requires the officials to consult each other often. Some times being in time zones that are hours apart it is not obvious to hold long hours chats. We then rely on threaded emails that then takes more time to reach consensus on a matter. The election process becomes challenging if members do not step up for board candidacy as the deadline approaches. When the election begins, the next challenge is to not miss out any member. We make sure that we obtain an up-to-date list of openSUSE members and that they receive their voter link/credentials. We attend to requests from members having issues finding the email containing their voter link. Very often it ends up being something trivial as members using two different email addresses; one on the mailing list and a different one in their openSUSE Connect account.

I call these challenges to address the question but in reality it’s fun to be part of all this and ensure everything runs smoothly. Gerry has set a good example in the 2018-2019 Board election, which we still follow. Edwin has been extremely supportive in the three elections where we worked together. Recently joined, Ariez Vachha has proven to be a great addition to the team.

What do you like the most about being involved in the community?

The people.

What is one feature, project, that you think needs more attention in openSUSE?

Documentation.

What side projects/hobbies you work on outside of openSUSE?

I experiment with containers using Podman. It’s a fairly recent love but it keeps me busy. Community-wise, I like to attend local meetups, events and blog about those activities. I often help with the planning or any other task within my capacity for the Developers Conference of Mauritius. It’s a yearly event that brings the local geeks together for three days of fun. Luckily I have a supportive wife who bears with the geek tantrums and she volunteers in some of the community activities too. Oh, I might get kicked if I do not mention and give her credit for the openSUSE Goodies packs she prepares for my local talks.

What is your desktop environment of choice / preferred desktop setup?

GNOME until recently. I switched to KDE after my developer colleagues would not stop bragging about how good their KDE environment is and my GNOME/Wayland environment started acting weird.

What is your favorite food?

Paneer Makhani (Indian cottage cheese in spicy curry gravy).

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

With the example set by the openSUSE Asia community, I think the future of the project is having a strong openSUSE presence on every habitable continent.

Any final thoughts or message to our readers?

Let’s paint the world green!

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