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OMG Interviews Valorie Zimmerman, Ubuntu women, Linux Grandma and Kubuntu Extraordinaire

Valorie Zimmerman

Valorie Zimmerman

Valorie has been a valuable contributor to the Kubuntu community and overall Free Open Source Software community for quite awhile and I had the privilege of meeting her last year at Community Leadership Summit and ever since meeting her I have wanted to interview her because I know that she inspires many women in FOSS and undoubtedly this interview may inspire you.

So, How did you get involved in Open Source?

I first started wondering “why not open source” with my first computer, a Coleco ADAM. The operating system came on a tape (cassette!) and had a notice on it about making no copies. I wondered why I couldn’t legally have a backup for my own machine? And who else would want such an OS anyway. Now I wonder what the box and the OS software was based on. Anyway, by the time I used a Windows box, I began leaning more and more to free software, because I wanted to make a move to linux as soon as it was useable on the desktop. My oldest son had been using Debian for a few years, and helped me out a lot. He made my Win2kPro laptop into a dual-boot sometime in 2001, with Mandrake. I loved KDE from the start!

What was your first Linux Distro?

Mandrake, which has now morphed into Mandriva and Mageia.

What brought you to be involved in the Kubuntu and Amarok communities?

After my last child left home, I thought about how I wanted to use my extra time. My favorite application is Amarok, so I looked around at what they might need that I could help with. The user documentation was old, so I timidly asked if I could help, and was promptly whirled into #amarok and the Amarok Handbook. I’d been using Kubuntu for a few years by then, and started to figure out how development and packaging happens behind the scenes. Hanging out in #kubuntu-devel, I started making friends, and helping out here and there.

What was your favorite FOSS event to travel to this year?

I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by KDE and Google to three events in 2011. At the development sprints in Randa, Switzerland I met many of the people I had been working with remotely for a few years. At the Desktop Summit in Berlin, Germany, I met even more, and got some great training for my job as part of the KDE Community Working Group. But the most productive, and thus the most fun, was being flown down to Mountainview, California to write a book with 3 young KDE developers, in a week! This was followed by the GSoC Mentor Summit.

That 7 days will live forever in my memory, even atop the other two tremendous events.

How did you come about getting the title of Linux Grandma?

I started using Linux around 2001, and realized after awhile that I needed to keep relearning how to do a few things I don’t do often. I’d learned with my other blogs that writing things like that, and then sharing them publicly is excellent! One can always search the blog, instead of the entire Internet. :-)

My grandson is four years old, so as I searched for a name, “Linux Grandma” just fell into place for me.

What do you think about Amarok 2.5?

The best yet! We have a few people wander into #amarok still yearning after the old Amarok 1.3.x, but they are very few. Our development team has such a depth of experience – it just keeps getting better.

When it comes to Open Source what are you looking forward to in 2012?

I’m so excited about LinuxFest Northwest this year, which will have a KDE component to it (KDE Cascadia). I love it every year, but this year should be *tops*! I may be able to go back to Berlin for a sprint in May, and possibly Akademy in Tallin, Estonia this August. Once my dad gets better (he’s recovering from a broken hip), I may be able to apply to attend UDS again, in Orlando. UDS is always amazing, from what I hear, and I had a great time two years ago.

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