These October days, I’m spending in Nürnberg in Southern Germany to attend the openSUSE conference. My role here is three-fold, first and foremost I am here as a representative of open-slx, my employer who sells products and services based on top of openSUSE. Then, I’m a KDE ambassador. Finally, I’m also getting more and more involved with the openSUSE team, getting to know many people and learning about challenges and opportunities this community faces.
That last one is actually really interesting, as the openSUSE community is in the process of re-finding itself. There’s the discussion about strategy going on, which is I think mainly formalizing the biggest problem openSUSE has: It’s lacking a common direction. This is a symptom of good and bad things, it reflects the diversity in the openSUSE community, which I think is of great value. On the other hand, it makes it hard to deliver one coherent product as there are nearly as many goals and opinions how to reach these goals as there are people in openSUSE.
Another part of this process is the de-coupling of the openSUSE community from Novell. This independence is very important for the Free software community since it means taking your own decisions — for instance about the direction of the product. Now my impression is that Novell doesn’t want to abandon openSUSE, but it’s trying to make it stronger by giving it more independence, it’s some sort of growing up of openSUSE.
Yesterday, I attended a session about setting up a foundation for openSUSE that can manage funding, governmental aspects and other more organisational tasks. Interestingly, the openSUSE board has (after looking at many comparable organisations in the Free software space) taken a direction very similar to how KDE with the KDE e.V. backing it up is set up. This is good to hear, since on one hand it validates the work we’re doing in the KDE e.V., and it’s yet another way of sharing in the Free software ecosystem. (Actually, we get requests for organisational assistance from Free software or Free culture projects on a somewhat regular basis.)
I’ve just attended a talk by Cornelius and Vincent (KDE resp. GNOME) who were talking about freedom in the cloud, giving a nice overview how the values of Free software apply to application used from the cloud. The rest of the day is packed with technical sessions, which I’m really looking forward to, and towards the end of today, I’ll talk about user experience in openSUSE. Actually, I’ve decided to talk about user experience and interaction design in general, explaining typical design processes and tools. I aimed for a talk teaching and explaining techniques this time around, since I think that this applies best to a community from kernel hackers to UI designers. My hope is that people will take away some ideas of how to improve the user experience of their work.