Back in 2009, we interviewed Elizabeth Krumbach about her work with Ubuntu and FOSS. We decided to catch up with her and see what she’s doing now.
First of all, how’s life?
Life is great! I’m now living in San Francisco, California. I’ll be starting a new job in 2013 where I’ll have the opportunity to work more directly on open source as my core job function while still having a very systems-focused role. I’m also excited to say that in April I’m getting married, but don’t worry, it’s 3 days after the Ubuntu 13.04 release so I won’t miss that
It was 10 years ago when you started using Linux, what is the most awesome project you watched evolve over the decade?
I think less than a specific project, it’s the maturing of open source software in general that has been most awesome. While I’m sure people had dreams, I don’t think most of my fellow LUG attendees in 2002 quite realized how open source software would be such a major driving force in some of the biggest internet technology companies in the world just 10 years later. You’re now seeing major mainstream companies investing significant amounts of money into development of open source, and that’s really quite a change from where we were.
That said, I’m really impressed with how far Ubuntu has come. I started using it as I was trying out a few different Debian derivatives and at the time that’s all it really was. Today the wide adoption means that it’s often possible to mention the word Ubuntu to “people on the street” and have a spark of recognition, even if they don’t quite understand what it is they know it’s something important.
Can you tell me about your current projects within Ubuntu and the teams you’re part of?
On a weekly basis I spent a fair amount of time these days with the Ubuntu News team, where I coordinate the newsletter and make sure articles are posted to http://fridge.ubuntu.com. I also still help lead up both the Ubuntu Women and Ubuntu California teams and am involved with Ubuntu Classroom where we host IRC (chat) based classes for folks to learn everything from using Ubuntu to getting involved in various areas to programming. I’ve recently been working to re-star the Ubuntu Learning project following some volunteer work I did with a non-profit in Ghana that is deploying Edubuntu computers, we found that training people on how to use Ubuntu was really important and there isn’t a lot of training material out there, we’re seeking to change that.
Will you describe your involvement with the Ubuntu Women Project and why you believe it’s an important group within Ubuntu?
I’m one of the elected leaders of the project, which these days means I make sure meetings happen and that blueprint items we commit to each cycle get worked on or handled in some way. A lot of motivating of team mates and nudging to get things done as all of us are quite busy outside of our obligations with the project.
I really believe in Ubuntu and open source and want to see it continue to succeed, and I believe getting as many people involved as possible is really key to this. Groups like Ubuntu Women and Ubuntu Youth, and similar events and initiatives targeted at minorities at conferences and within communities work to specifically attract contributors who may have been historically overlooked or whose contributions discounted or ignored. On a personal level, having female role models and mentors, being able to get together with other technical women over dinner while at a tech conference and having a place to go to if I encounter questionable behavior have been vital to my growth in technology and open source so I want to see Ubuntu Women continue to be that group for other women joining our community.
You were recently recognized as an outstanding leader and contributor with the O’Reilly Open Source Award, how did that feel?
Surprising! I do open source work out of a love and passion for technology and I didn’t expect such recognition for it. It also made me reflect a lot on what caused me to go from a casual open source user to someone who spends so much of her time on open source and for me a huge part of it has been the Ubuntu community. Through this community I have the opportunity to work with dozens of brilliant, passionate people on exciting projects, and I never have to leave my living room. It’s continually motivating and inspiring and makes me want to work on more things and encourage other people to join in.
In your previous interview, you had a goal of getting the Debian LedgerSMB project into a Debian release. How is that project going?
My involvement in the project pretty much ended in 2009 when I shifted my focus to other projects. Fortunately everything was in SVN so when a new maintainer reached out to me to work on it he was able to easily pick up right where I left off. The package made it into quantal and is slated for inclusion in the next stable version of Debian, hopefully being released within the next couple months.
How will you be involved with Ubuntu moving forward? Do you have any specific projects/goals planned?
Some of my core day job work these past couple years has been similar to that of many Linux systems administrators – the move from physical servers to virtual. In my case I still managed a lot of bare metal but we’ve been moving to small KVM-based clusters and building the infrastructure around them. I’ve now started to explore the offerings that the Ubuntu server team and OpenStack have been working on and will be increasing my involvement in those areas in the coming months.