21 Aug 2012

22 questions to the chairperson of Mageia.org association

Mageia is my favourite operating system. I have never hidden this fact. It became #1 in my personal rating soon after the release of their version 1 in June 2011, and was the sole holder of that place until about November 2011. Although it shares the first place now with Xubuntu, I currently run version 2 and still like it a lot.
That’s why I was over the moon when I got a chance to invite this person into my "interview room".
Please meet: Anne Nicolas!

DarkDuck: Hello Anne! Thank you for giving some time to me and the interview. Could you please introduce yourself?

Anne Nicolas
Anne Nicolas: I'm Anne Nicolas (aka ennael). I'm a part of Mageia founders since September 2010. I'm a part of Mageia council and a chairperson of Mageia.Org association. I'm 41 years old, married with a geek and mother of 2 children (maybe 2 future geeks :)). I live near Paris in France.

DD: How did you come to the Linux world? When did it happen?

AN: It was something like 12 years ago. I decided to change the job and started training for being web project manager. We started the training course learning some piece of system administration on Linux. It was the first time I used it... and I never stopped after. I finished this training and joined this company to work in Linux team.
My first contribution was being part of admin team of lea-linux.org, a French web site of documentation.

DD: You’re a member of the Mageia development team. What is your role in the project?

AN: Together with Guillaume Rousse and Nicolas Vigier, I'm managing the packagers team. In short: write and organize development planning, organize weekly meetings, participate in weekly council meeting to represent packagers, and also work with other teams’ representatives.
While I'd like to have more time for packaging, I'm also a release manager with Thomas Backlund. I release all non-live media while Thomas is in charge of live CDs.

DD: How many people are there in the Mageia team officially?

AN: It's hard to say, as some people can start and stop contributing whenever they want. However, here are some figures that may help to give an idea:
  • 105 people with commit rights for apprentices and packagers
  • 43 people with commit rights in i18n team
  • more than 400 registered people in mageia-dev
  • nearly 478 people for mageia-discuss
DD: Did you work for Mandriva before Mageia? What were your reasons for leaving?

AN: I was one of the founders of Edge-It. The company was bought by Mandriva to setup professional services. As a subsidiary of Mandriva, Edge-it has been winded up about 2 years ago and, like the main part of distribution developers, I was fired. Therefore, the reasons to leave were not really on my side :).

DD: Would you like to go back, if you had such an opportunity?

AN: I just loved the time I worked in Mandriva. Hard conditions but exciting experience for an open source editor and distribution community. It was hard to leave and turn this page. Now it's done. New projects, new experience so I don't think I would start again there.

DD: Do you keep in touch with the current Mandriva team?

AN: I still do have contacts with some of the "old" employees :). We worked together for some years so I have no reason to break with them. They are former colleagues and friends.

DD: What do you think about the current state of Mandriva, the company and distribution?

AN: Well, not much really. Mageia and Mandriva are now 2 different projects with different goals. And I do not have very much information about what and how is going on. What I can see now is Mandriva company is building new strategy, quite different and maybe the one that will work in the current market of distributions. At least, things are much clearer than ever, which is already a great step. About Mandriva community, things are a bit more unclear. I know how hard it is to setup new organization and way to go. I just hope it's not too late. But, still, I wish them well.

DD: Have you heard of ROSA and their distribution?

AN: I do of course. I've also tested all the releases to keep an eye on what is done inside but no contact with ROSA team. Development seems too hidden in my opinion.

DD: Mandriva and ROSA are commercial companies with the aim to earn a profit. Mageia is a non-commercial organisation. How well does Mageia do financially, if this can be disclosed?

AN: Well as stated when we worked on Mageia.Org status and organization, we did keep some room for companies in Mageia ecosystem. We hope to see companies become interested in Mageia and we think it is very healthy for the future of the project. But, still, all will be done according to Mageia status to keep all the project free.
As you can see, the list of companies using Mageia is still quite short which seems sensible for us as Mageia is still young and professional users need some feedback before using it in production.
https://wiki.mageia.org/en/Commercial_vendors and https://wiki.mageia.org/en/Org

DD: I heard that there were plans to collaborate over parts of development, support and community between Mandriva and Mageia. Can you comment on this, or it is not going to happen?

AN: Indeed. Mandriva contacted us about such an opportunity. After some discussions, they decided to use Mageia as the base system for their server product. We had some joint communication so that things can be under control on each side. Mandriva will contribute as any other contributor of the Mageia community. We still need to discuss some points like contribution on security updates.

DD: Coming back to Mageia, your distribution is currently in 3rd place in the 6-month Distrowatch rating. That’s an incredible result for an operating system which only released the first version a year ago. Do you aim higher?

AN: Distrowatch is an indicator of the popularity of a distribution and should be seen as such. Still, it's encouraging and a very positive sign for all the hard work of these 2 first years. There is no doubt that this popularity comes also from Mandriva, Mageia is not born from nowhere. After 2 years, this is the result of an independent project, a community distribution.

DD: Does the Mageia team send any updates upstream, either for the kernel or DEs?

AN: Our policy is to send whatever is possible upstream. So, we ask packagers to check existing patches in their packages and provide it upstream. In addition, we have people in team working on upstream projects like kernel, KDE, GNOME, PulseAudio...

DD: What are the future plans for Mageia development?

AN: We are now working on Mageia 3. Final release is planned for 20th of March, 2013. We just published Mageia 3 features based on a new process.
We work also to release at last an ARM port of Mageia as we have now included some ARM build machines in our build system.

DD: What are your own preferences amongst distributions, desktop environments, applications?

AN: Unfortunately, I have very few time to test other distributions. I use Mageia on my personal laptop. I'm using KDE as my favourite environment for 6 or 7 years now, and a bit lazy to change. I use vim as the text editor, LibreOffice for office suite, Chromium as a web browser, Thunderbird as an e-mail client. I use irssi as an IRC client and my son is fond of gcompris.

DD: Do you read the blog Linux notes from DarkDuck? What would you change or improve there?

AN: Unfortunately, I'm not a regular reader, mainly when I get some focus on Mageia.

DD: Do Mageia developers meet in person? What do you do at these meetings?

AN: Well, we try to organize such meetings in main FOSS events like FOSDEM or Linuxtag in Europe. But these are rather informal occasions except for general assembly, which takes place in FOSDEM these 2 last years. We hope to be able to propose such event as soon as possible, as meeting people in real life is priceless for the team building.

DD: Do you organise any kind of Mageia user group meetings?

AN: Not really for now, but we plan to do it. We focused mainly on developers teams. Users can join Mageia through IRC, mailing-list or forums. I think it would be a good idea to have users representatives in the council.

DD: There are not so many women in the Linux community. Do you take part in any Linux women communities?

AN: No and I will not. I do think that creating such communities exacerbates the current situation. It's like confirming it and creating a ghetto for women. I may be too hard here but I do not see any difference between male or female contributor. As a woman, I do not feel like a special case. It's more a cultural question.

DD: What are you personal interests, not in the area of computers, operating systems, Linux?

AN: I'm quite fond of photography, I used to practise hiking in roller, diving and motorcycle. Now I'm more focused on my children.

DD: Do you like to travel? What is the most interesting place you’ve been? What is the most interesting place you’d like to visit?

AN: I travelled mostly in Europe, the U.S. and Brazil. I loved Italy for its architecture and history, and Ireland for its fantastic scenery. These two were a perfect backdrop for photography.
I'd love to discover East Asia and India, but I fear of not being able to do things in perspective between the beauty of these countries and the poverty of their populations.

DD: Thanks for coming! It was a pleasure to have you here! Wish you all the best in your plans! Hope to stay in touch!

AN: Thanks for your interest in Mageia!


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