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Running for openSUSE Board

You might have heard that openSUSE’s board elections are underway for three open seats to be filled. I’ve been thinking about running for board for a while and now it seems to be the right time to step up.

The following text is a plain, unedited copy of my application.

Introduction, Biography and Contributions

My name is Vinzenz Vietzke but sticking with the much short “vinz” or “vinzv” is what I prefer. I’m 34 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”.

i18n

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.

Aims/Goals

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.

Conclusion

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!

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: