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OMG! Interviews: Laura Czajkowski

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At OMG! Ubuntu! we’ve decided some consistency might be in order, so we thought we’d try our hand at profiling and interviewing one upstanding Ubuntu member each week to give you lucky readers a personal and exclusive insight into the people who make Ubuntu rock so hard.

Since it’s Ada Lovelace day today, we thought it’d be a great chance to profile Laura Czajkowski, an awesome member of the Ubuntu community. And she’s Irish!


Laura is a 30 year old Irish lass hailing from Limerick, but now lives in Dublin. She is currently a software tester for Quest Computing and has quite a bit of experience in the Open Source world. Last year she was appointed to the Ubuntu LoCo council, and she also works on the Ubuntu NGO where she promotes Non-Government Organizations who use Open Source. Laura is an Ubuntu end user; while she may not write much code, she is a perfect example of someone succeeding in the Ubuntu community in other ways. Laura does many talks and organizes events around Ireland, including starting her own ossbarcamp.


One area where Laura is also heavily involved in is Ubuntu women, where she (and many others) encourage women to get involved in the Ubuntu project. As well promoting Open Source and generally being an awesome help for Ubuntu, Laura is a die-hard rugby supporter. The first time I had a chat to her she immediately asked me if I liked rugby. (Being a Kiwi I said yes, god knows what might have happened if I had said no!) According to her “Who am I” page on her website she also enjoys snapping the odd photo, travelling, going for walks and she doesn’t like fish. Lovely!

Interview Time!

1. From reading previous interviews and features on yourself you’re an incredibly passionate community member and heavily involved in your local loco, too. What tips, ideas or advice would you give to those people who want to get involved in Ubuntu but feel that they have nothing to offer by not being a code cruncher or a super developer?

It can be hard if you want to contribute back and you don’t know where to start. If you know people in your LoCo ask them for help, don’t be shy; we all had to start somewhere. If you’re shy ask someone can you have a word with them on a one to one basis, tell them what you’re interested in, what you like doing and what you’re good at. They may be able to put you in the right direction or at least tell you who to contact. Some projects have mentoring projects, Ubuntu Women is one such team that does if you want to get involved and don’t know where to start or need a hand, why not contact one of us listed on the mentoring page and we’ll gladly help if we can. But I would just suggest, if you’re interested, jump in two feet first, I did and I don’t regret it. I’ve met some pretty interesting people, had great conversations with people from all over the world and I get to work on projects that I’ve an interest in, and most of all I get to contribute back in my way to Ubuntu and Open Source.

2. What do you feel is the best way to go about encouraging more women to get involved in the Ubuntu community?

Tricky one. Me personally I try and help by offering advice when people ask what they can do or where do they start. If I know people are good with writing, I’ll point them in the direction of the documentation team. Sometimes, it’s just a case of being there to bounce ideas off someone else. Get some feedback. We have #ubuntu-women-project set up on freenode and I’d encourage all women to join here, meet fellow women involved in Ubuntu, who have an interest in the Ubuntu project. I think we encourage women to take part by being there to guide, help and offer support and be their peers. Some women work in high percentage male environments, some miss being able to talk to female co-workers, consider us your co-worker. We’re here to work with you. If you have ideas and want to talk about them or be that 2nd opinion why not ask us.

3. How does Ubuntu slot into your everyday life?I try and fit it in after work in the evenings and when I can at weekends. Because I enjoy it, I just tip away at it. I run events over here in Ireland when I’m not watching rugby :) I idle on IRC so I can be found if someone is looking for me or want to ask for help, please just ask. I try to organize events to promote Ubuntu. My involvement in the Ubuntu Ireland LoCo is to encourage events to happen, help to plan. We have a great LoCo full of enthusiastic people so we meet up when we can. Making friends through Ubuntu and working on projects has been very interesting and rewarding.

4. Community rocks. What has been your biggest positive experience in the Ubuntu community so far?

Everyone is helpful and friendly, and yes that’s always said but really it is the truth. I’m not always going to know the answer to a question or get it right the first time. Then again nobody knows the answer to everything. In the Ubuntu Community we have such a massive community full of great people, you can ask for help, get advice and help work towards a common goal. I’ve yet to find a project like Ubuntu out there.

5.We understand you’re part of the Ubuntu NGO team, could you tell us a bit more about that?

This is rather interesting group, it started off at UDS Karmic at a round table, asking ourselves how we can best help NGOs/ Non profits, we came up with some ideas, packaging, publicising them and trying to work out what they needed. Then at UDS Lucid, we became more organised, set down more tasks and roles for others to take on board. My objective is to find NGOs who use Open Source and try to work on solutions.

6. What projects or Ubuntu-related activities will be keeping you busy for the next few months?

Over the next three months I’m working on 3 events, OpenJam – which is the Irish version of a Global Jam, the community which is active is rather small and I wanted to get more people involved so we’ve invited all of the other groups to come and take part and had a lot of support from national agencies in support of this event. I run an Open Source Barcamp here and the Ubuntu Ireland LoCo are great, we now have a team of enthusiastic people working to make it happen. The next one is in April and I’m trying to make it different from last year, adding new ideas to it to encourage more people to take part has been fun. I’m helping a little with an event in the UK in May, Oggcamp, the Ubuntu UK Podcast folks and Linux Outlaws are running an event in Liverpool so I said I’d help, any excuse to travel and meet more people. In Ubuntu I’m working on the LoCo council and rather busy at present with approvals and helping LoCos with some issues. How to get more visibility, run events, how to get more members involved and some basic stuff if you don’t know about can make things harder than needs be. I’m trying to do more testing and logging of bugs, upgrading to Lucid helped there :) Ubuntu NGO project, Ubuntu women, so I keep myself busy and help where I can within Ubuntu.

image Three questions, no mercy.

1. Browser of choice?

I default to Firefox but just the other day installed Chrome as things kept annoyingly freezing up, I may switch soon.

2. Your guess for 10.10 code name?

Manic Monkey!

3. What one application is your *must install* on a fresh copy of Ubuntu?

VLC – It just works!

Lots of thanks for Laura taking the time out to talk to us, and we wish her very well for the future!

You can catch Laura’s posts on Planet Ubuntu, or straight from her blog. She’s also on with the nick czajkowski. (Thank god for autocomplete!)