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Interview Gentoo Developer Jorge Manuel Vicetto (jmbsvicetto)

1.  Interview with Jorge Manuel Vicetto (jmbsvicetto)

Introduction

Today I am pleased to introduce to all of you, Jorge Manuel Vicetto, Gentoo Developer, KDE Lead, and also a member of, Forums, Sparc, UserRel, DevRel, and in his spare time helps run the elections. Jorge is from Terceira island in the Azores.

Jorge's Interview

Hi Jorge, thanks for the interview.

Hi David, Thanks for asking me.

1) Is Gentoo your first open source project?
Gentoo is my first open source project as a member. The first project I started giving back was SuSE in the suse-en ml, though. I've also participated in the translation of OpenOffice.org for Portuguese (1.1.1) and the initial work for 2.0.
2) How long have you been a Gentoo user?
I've started using Gentoo around March/April 2004 (1.4b / 2004.0?). I did an initial installation in an x86 box and then made Gentoo Linux my main OS for my first AMD64 (April 2004).
3) What has your journey been like with Linux, and how did it start?
Looking back and realizing I've been using Linux for 14 years is an amazing feeling. Time does indeed fly! I first tried a Slackware release. I can no longer recall if it was released on floppies or CD, but I do recall the install included answering for each app in the release, whether to install it or not. At this point, I tested the release and used Linux sporadically. Later, I've used RedHat 4.0 and 5.2 and it was around this time I started using Linux daily. When I finally moved to SuSE, Linux became my main OS. I started using SuSE around release 6.0 and used it up to release 9.0. In the meantime, I used for work and testing purposes SLES 9.0 and Knoppix. At this point (SuSE 9.0), I was beginning to feel locked by YAST and was compiling enough packages from source, that I looked around. I tested Fedora Core, but wasn't happy with it. Then around March 2004 I tested Gentoo for the first time (1.4r1 or 2004.0). On April 2004 I installed Gentoo into my fist AMD64 box and haven't stopped using it yet. I've put Gentoo into a few laptops, desktops and servers (including my Sparc 280R). Since I started using Gentoo, I've used sysrescuecd for a few recovery tasks, but I haven't feel the need or urge to test any other distros. The road had a few bumps here and there, but it has been a fantastic journey. These days you'll only catch me on another OS by a work requirement. I've even stopped playing games on Windows as every time I start thinking on playing a game, my time fades away, I've also bought recently a few games from LGP, but haven't break away long enough to do some proper testing.
4) What motivated you to become a Gentoo Developer?
What motivated me to become a Gentoo Developer was my need to give back. Having used FLOSS for so long, I felt I had to give back and help others benefit from open source as much as I had. I started doing that by providing a very small contribution to the suse-en ml and it felt good to help others. When I moved to Gentoo, I gradually got away from the suse-en ml. At one point (27 April 2005) I joined the Gentoo Forums and started answering questions and trying to help others. Later, I also joined #gentoo, where I occasionally go look for some "lost souls". After a while, the kind folks at the forums started paying attention and invited me to be a forums global moderator - thus getting me in the "Mad House", pardon, the Gentoo Dev team.
5) Walk me through the process of testing/fixing KDE for a stable release within Gentoo.
We've started the work to get KDE-4.3.1 marked stable soon - this will be the first KDE-4 release marked stable on Gentoo. You can follow that work in bug 277868[1]. So the process starts by bumping the ebuilds for a new release. We now use some scripts in the kde-testing overlay to help with this, but it boils down to checking the build scripts to check for changes between versions, review dependencies and then bumping the ebuilds. This starts with a diff between the CMakeLists.txt files between the 2 versions tarballs - upstream still releases a few tarballs, while Gentoo uses split ebuilds. We check for new dirs, dropped dirs, moved apps or libs between tarballs or Gentoo packages, add blocks when required and review deps. For new minor releases, updates from 4.X to 4.X+1, we're following the live tree and the beta / release candidate tarballs in the kde-testing overlay. For the initial bump for regular releases, we first add the ebuilds to the kde-testing overlay so that we can check the ebuilds with the pre-release tarballs upstream makes available to packagers and then we move the ebuilds to the tree just before / shortly after the release. After getting the ebuilds in the tree we start following and fixing bugs. When we feel a release is good enough, we start planning to get it marked stable. That means creating a tracker bug, like bug 277868[1], adding blockers to it, getting team members to pay attention to the open bugs and work on them and when we find the blockers are fixed, poking the arch teams to do the stabilization.
[1] https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=277868
6) What does the future Linux desktop look like?
Good question. As I unfortunately left my "crystal ball" at the office, I won't be able to provide any "previews". All I can say is that since the FVWM/FVWM2 days, the Linux Desktop has gone a long way. Having followed the XGL, Compiz and KDE4 early days and seeing how so many of the ideas, innovations and technologies have matured and have been merged back into X.org and other mainstream DEs, the future looks promising, bright and full of sizzling effects.
7) What aspects of Gentoo do you feel the developers and maintainers have got right?
I have to say that what attracted me more to Gentoo and what I feel are its strong points are the versatility/choice for the end user and its strong community. Gentoo embraces PERL moto of "there's more than one way to do it" and mostly allows users to do it their way. Use flags are a key stone for this. The Gentoo community is nothing if not vibrant. We have the occasional (periodic?) chaos, but our community is full of talented people that keep providing continual and engaging discussions. It's an absolute pleasure to be part of the Gentoo Community.
8) What is it about Gentoo you would like to see improved?
Gentoo as a distro has always room for improvement. Be it from some new features or improvements to Portage, being able to fix KDE upstream build system to support multiple versions in the same prefix, having more people to ensure some packages are shaped up and or bumped to the latest versions, getting an implementation for open management of tags for packages, and or streamlined tools for enterprise deployment of Gentoo, we have no lack of areas to improve. For the community, I'd love to see it grow even larger, getting even more engaging and having improved methods to get users more involved with the distro.
9) What are some of the Projects within Gentoo that you enjoy contributing to?
I've been wearing to many hats for a while now and it has been a pleasure to work with all the teams. I've started through the Forums and thus that has a "special place" in my heart. Even though I've stopped being a regular poster, I keep a close proximity to the team. As the KDE team Lead, KDE is the team that gets most of my attention, even though I'm blessed by a great team that hardly requires my services. We have many enthusiast members doing great work. The User Relations and Developer Relations teams are a strange match for me as I was never into "managing people" and I don't see myself as having strong "people skills". But somehow I keep getting involved in them and try to help the wonderful people in both teams. As you've said, in my "spare time", I also give a hand to the elections team. That is my way to help other devs focusing on their projects, by taking care of tasks not everyone appreciates (even though I must admit I really enjoy preparing and running an election).
10) Who are some of the other developers you work with?
This is a tricky question as I'm sure I'll forget someone, so let me start by apologizing to those I forget to mention. I'd like to mention from the Forums Wernfried (amne), Sylvain (d2_racing), Ioannis (deathing00), Dean (desultory), Dennis (Earthwings), Anders (kallamej), Mark (mark_alec), nixnut (nixnut), Maurício (pilla) and Ron (timebandit). From the KDE team Marcus (cryos), Tobias (keytoaster), Patrick (bonsaikitten/Dr.evil), Thomas (scarabeus), Theo (tampakrap) and Ben (yngwin). From the UserRel and Devrel teams I'd also like to mention Alec (antarus), Steve (beandog), Pettery (Betelgeuse), Denis (Calchan), Shyam (fox2mike), Homer (hparker), Chrissy (musikc), Lukazs (rane) and Joshua (tsunam).
11) What open source software can you not live without at home and at work?
  • At home: xine, mplayer, smplayer, gqview
  • At home/work: Firefox, Thunderbird, K3B, CUPS, OpenOffice.org, MySQL and amarok
  • At work: rdesktop, krdc, PDF Creator, 7Zip, OCS-NG, Cacti and Nedi.
  • I also use many, many apps from the KDE DE.
12) What resources have you found most helpful when troubleshooting programs?
For my work in Gentoo, my main sources to troubleshoot issues are bugzilla, forums and a direct poke at a team or developer.
13) Do you get to do much programming?
Not really. I'm a network manager / sys admin and the only coding I do are some simple scripts in bash, PERL and or PHP.
14) What would be your dream job?
I've been working as a network manager / sys admin for 10 years. I started doing it for the local Nursing School and around 5 years ago I started doing it for the local Hospital as well. For the past year, I've been doing it solely for the Hospital. So my dream job? Keep being a network manager / sys admin but for a large floss "shop". Thus something in my current area of expertise, but on a perhaps larger scale, and using open source, instead of the proprietary solutions.
15) What can users do to improve Gentoo?
There are a few things users can do to improve Gentoo. One of them, "the final solution", is to go full circle and become a Gentoo Developer. Users should know that becoming a dev is a real possibility (it's within everyone's reach), but it's just one of the options. Gentoo can use people to test packages, submit bugs, preferably with patches and or write ebuilds. But we also need people helping to improve our docs and or translate them, people involved with upstream projects, people spreading the word about Gentoo and or offering / hosting services for Gentoo, and anyone that can come up with new and exciting ideas and that is willing to put the work behind them. If someone wants to know more on how to improve or how to participate in Gentoo, feel free to poke me at IRC (freenode and oftc networks) or mail me nickname@gentoo.org. One can also contact recruiters at recruiters@gentoo.org and the User Relations team at #gentoo-userrel (IRC) or userrel@gentoo.org.
16) What are some of the most difficult things to configure on a new install?
I've been using Gentoo for so long, that I'm not the best person to ask that. In any case, I'd expect getting some wireless cards to work and understanding use flags might be some of the most difficult tasks for someone doing the first install. Oh, and for some reason, some people seem to have a hard time with GRUB - that was one of my main source of posts in the Forums (you can find a "few" posts by me in the old GRUB threads).
17) What are some tips you can give users if they want to become more involved, and create relationships with the current developers?
I'd say the most important tip is for users not to be afraid and to try and reach current developers. In my experience, Gentoo devs are pretty open and be it through bugzilla, mail or irc, you should be able to reach them. Gentoo has a very strong IRC presence and many teams coordinate their work in their IRC channels. For instance, the KDE team most active communication channel is #gentoo-kde. Be warned though, that not all devs do IRC. Some use mail preferably. After you start engaging devs and if you like and get to help a herd or arch team, you may be granted commit privs on an overlay or be invited to become an AT/HT. This is an excellent way to later become a dev. I'd suggest reading:
http://dev.gentoo.org/~jmbsvicetto/recruiting/default-recruiters.txt.
18) What are the specs of your current boxes?
Laptop:
  • Core2Duo T7700 (2.4 GHz)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2 * 160GB
  • RTL8169 (1000T)
  • IWL3945 ABG
  • nVidia 8600GM
Build box:
  • Core2Quad Q8200 (2.33 GHz)
  • 4GB RAM (I plan to upgrade to 8GB)
  • 160GB + 250GB (will move to 2 * 1TB soon)
  • RTL8169 (1000T)
  • ATI Radeon HD4350
Rented server:
  • 2 * Xeon X3220 (2.4 GHz)
  • 768MB
  • 25GB
  • 1000 GB transfer
The server runs my IRC bot and I'm planning to host some services on it.
I also have a SPARC 280R, but it's mostly turned off as I'm having a few heating issues with it and I haven't looked for spare parts yet.
19) What are you currently working on and or plan to work on soon?
In the last few weeks, I've been focusing on the 10.0 livedvd and I want to pay some attention to PMS soon. I've finally learned how to use catalyst and have been working on specs with many others for the 10.0 livedvd. I've built a few snapshots here for amd64 and x86 and have been paying particular attention to KDE and getting kdm to do automatic logins (already working). We've got reasonably stable specs now and will start focusing on testing the apps in the dvd in the next days. I plan to pay some attention to PMS soon as this project seems to be consuming most of the Gentoo community time in the mls and lately seems to have been stalled to a grind. I'm concerned about the decision process for PMS and the way progress is being tied to EAPIs, even for issues that are not directly related to ebuilds.
20) What gives you the most enjoyment within the Gentoo community.
Being able to have very fulfilling discussions with a myriad of intelligent and passionate individuals. I have and keep learning much from my interactions with this fantastic community. One small testament about Gentoo and its community that I'd like to make is to note that in November 2003, before starting to use Gentoo I got the LPIC level 2 certification. Today, I have no doubt I've learned more about Linux and open source software since then, than in all the years before.
Thank you David for inviting me and for bearing with me.
You are welcome :)


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Page updated September 18, 2009

Summary: Interview with Jorge Manuel Vicetto (jmbsvicetto)

David Abbott
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