Ubuntu Women- Where are they now? Follow up with Amber Graner

Amber Graner is currently working as the Community and Social Media Manager at Linaro

Back in 2010, we interviewed Amber Graner about her work with Ubuntu and FOSS. We decided to catch up with her to see what she’s working on now.

Can you tell me about where you are now with your Ubuntu involvement compared to the Full Circle Magazine interview in 2010?

Wow, I wish I could say I was as involved as I was then; however, one of the things we stressed in Ubuntu Women (UW) is that we aren’t a group to collect women in Ubuntu and just keep them involved in the UW project,but more of a springboard to not only Ubuntu contribution but to the whole of FOSS. I still help a little here and there on the Ubuntu News Team if needed, though Elizabeth Krumbach, and others on the team are solid and rarely need input from me. Which is awesome!

I guess the same holds true for many of the other areas I was involved in, at some point we all have to pass the torch. I can only hope I did a good job of doing that. I enjoy mentoring and helping people find their way and still get emails, pings on IRC or chat requests about getting involved in Ubuntu, Linaro and Open Source in general. I absolutely love helping those who reach out to me! It’s just more of a one on one personal level now.

I still use Ubuntu daily and given the opportunity to discuss it, I will with anyone. Even country music singer Brantley Gilbert heard about Ubuntu and Google+ Hangouts on Air when I was at his concert recently! When I attend the Carolina Panthers Football games I always find the Ubuntu, or open source users near me, and if they aren’t familiar with it at the beginning of the game they are by the end of the game. No one is immune to my excitement about using Linux!

What projects are you currently involved with?

Currently, I am the Community and Social Media Manager at Linaro and as such I have the opportunity to use various ARM-processor based boards. With Ubuntu, I’m not involved with as many projects as I would like to be. However, now that I have this new role at Linaro I am very interested in how to bring more awareness about not only Linaro, but ARM in general to more people.

Locally, I am working on trying to find ways to get the middle and high schools to offer not only Ubuntu classes, but Open Source Software as a whole. I want people to know they have choices and that freedom of choice is important. I am still very active in public speaking and haven’t set my schedule for 2013, but it’s important to me that people know the impact that participating in an Open Source project can have especially in terms of personal growth and success. The philosophies and tools that are used in Open Source projects have helped me to become a stronger, more independent, successful me in not only my project life, but my personal and professional life as well and I want to continue to encourage others to get involved. I can’t even begin to tell you all the ways my life has improved since becoming involved. Gone are those “by the techie for the techie” days in FOSS; you don’t have to hack on the Linux-kernel or even know what it is to get involved in the Open Source project of your choice. Open Source is inclusive and open to anyone willing to get involved and help.

Would you say you are more of a techie now as opposed to an everyday user?

Hmm, that’s always an interesting question for me to try and answer. If you ask any of my friends who’ve gotten to know me since joining the Ubuntu community in 2009, they would all say with 100% certainty that I am more of a techie. I think I am more like this weird hybrid user. I am not a developer, I mean I don’t write code, but I am certainly not the typical everyday user either. I’m constantly pegging my CPU, locking up something, finding a really weird race conditions where I have to modify or delete something in a config file to fix it. I’ve gotten to help troubleshoot various kernels and more. Heck on that really rare occasion, where I manage to really bork a machine trying something new, I just re-install and move on. Life is short and usually it’s something I did to break it so rather than bug someone about “wtf just happened?” I just fix it with a fresh install. That’s not to say that my husband, who works for Canonical, doesn’t get an ear full. :-)

While I am not as technical as our amazing engineers at Linaro, I do learn more about our member hardware everyday and to that degree I would say I am more technical.

Where do you see yourself moving forward in regards to Ubuntu involvement?

Honestly, I am not 100% sure and I think that’s OK. I think if you talk to anyone, the project they started their involvement in FOSS with isn’t always the one they are involved in 5 years later and therein is the beauty of Open Source-choice, freedom, inclusion, and the ever evolving scope of knowledge and skills we acquire. Just as water finds its own level, I think we in FOSS need to do that as well.

It’s so hard to be on the outside of the fishbowl, especially when it was such an everyday part of my life in 2010. I was freelancing then and had more time to volunteer and be part of the community. I think Ubuntu will always be a “first love” when it comes to open source and community contribution. I have to remain balanced between work, family, and volunteer time and with 2 teenagers active in marching band, a lot of my free time now goes to them and their activities. Plus my husband and I just celebrated our 20 year anniversary back in September and we are starting to spend the times he’s home together and unplugged- going to concerts, spending time with friends, our kids and each other. I think community contribution is all about doing what you can when you can, but not losing sight of what’s important in your life either. Sometimes you just have to know when to say enough and I think I’ve finally found that balance that is right for not only me, but also my family.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss the community and all my friends and all the awesomeness that is contained in the Ubuntu Community. I’ve always said as a women I CAN have it all, I just can’t have it all at one time. There is a time and place for everything and I am not sure if that time and place with and in Ubuntu has passed or if it will come around again – I guess time will tell.

Getting involved in an open source project reaches well beyond the keyboard and I would encourage anyone who wants to get involved to do so.

The original interview with Amber Graner can be found in Full Circle Magazine, Issue 35

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