ROSE Blog Interviews: Stormy Peters, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation

Rikki Kite

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Aug 26, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

In addition to her work with the GNOME Foundation and Kids on Computers, Stormy Peters is a frequent speaker at industry events and writes a blog at: stormyscorner.com. In September, Stormy will participate in the Free Software Foundation's mini-summit on women in free software.

To learn more about the GNOME Foundation, read Stormy's article in the June 2009 issue of the free online magazine Open Source Business Resource.

If you're interested in helping with the GNOME Foundation, one way to contribute is to become a GNOME ambassador and help the GNOME Press Team.

Q: Who are you?

A: I am Stormy Peters. I currently work as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation and I help out with a lot of other projects related to free software as well. For example, I started a nonprofit with friends, Kids on Computers, to bring computers and free software to kids that don't have access to technology. I also occasionally advise or consult people working on open source software projects.

Q: What do you currently do in open source? What do you love about it?

A: I work with the GNOME Foundation – our goal is to bring free desktop technologies to everyone. To make sure everyone has access to technology regardless of their income, their physical abilities or the language they speak. The GNOME project is a great group of very motivated and excited people.

I love working on a free software project like GNOME because everyone is doing something they believe in and so a lot gets done without lots of overhead and management.

Q: You're speaking to a group of women from other fields who are considering switching careers. Why should they consider moving into an open source-related career? What should they know about the open source environment to prepare them for the transition from a different field?

A: Most developers who move to an open source software project love it. A few don't transition well. I think the key is understanding how open source software projects work. Everything happens in public over the internet. Conversations, discussions, decisions ... are all made in public forums like mailing lists and IRC. People rarely meet in person and never talk on the phone. That's a big difference from a corporate proprietary software project. Much bigger than many people realize. Also, there's nobody that's going to say, "ok, you can do that." You just have to run your ideas by some people, make sure you consider any objections, and then just do it. That can feel like you're taking a big risk, but in reality you are much more empowered.

Q: You're speaking to a group of high school students (male and female). Why should they consider exploring career options in open source?

A: For high school students, I'd encourage them to get involved right now! We have several developers on GNOME who are under 18 years of age. Imagine the experience they are getting and how strong their resume will be when they start job hunting. Not to mention that they are connected to a large group of people interested in software like they are and they are making a difference in the world.

Q: What question do you wish I'd asked? And how would you answer it?

A: I'd ask people considering career options in open source, those two groups you mentioned above, "what makes you hesitate?" What can we do to answer any questions you have or address and concerns?

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If you are a woman in open source, I'd love it if you'd take a moment to answer these interview questions and send your responses to me at rkite AT linuxpromagazine DOT com. If you'd like me to interview a particular woman in open source, drop me a line and let me know who she is and where to find her.

Additional reading:

ROSE Blog Interviews You (add your own interview and see comments for responses from Dru Lavigne, Amber Graner, and other women in open source)

Interview with Carla Schroder

Interview with Kelaine Vargas

Interview with Moose (Ohio LinuxFest)

Interview with Beth Lynn Eicher (Ohio LinuxFest)

Interview with Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock

Interview with Angela Brown of the Linux Foundation

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