Membership Board Member Interviews: Walter Lapchynski

The Ubuntu Membership Board is responsible for approving new Ubuntu members. I interviewed our board members in order for the Community to get to know them better and get over the fear of applying to Membership.

The second interviewee is Walter Lapchynski:

What do you do for a career?

I’ve worked for local custom bicycle manufacturer for 14 years now, having done nearly every job. Currently, I do sales and also help in Information Services with project management and general sysadminy kind of stuff.

What was your first computing experience?

Ah, my Commodore 128. How I miss it. Got it when I was 8 and read the whole manual and was programming BASIC at 10.

How long have you been involved with Ubuntu?

I had played with Ubuntu many times but it was the 12.04 release of Lubuntu that really pulled me into the community. I came to the IRC channel to ask a question and everyone was so nice I just hung around and started helping.

Since you are all fairly new to the Board, why did you join?

I recognize that leadership is not a skill everyone has, nor one that everyone wants to flex, yet I feel it comes fairly naturally to me. I felt that there was a need and decided to join. Beyond that, I have a curiousity about the governance of the Ubuntu community in general. In Lubuntu, we are constantly in need of contributors, and I felt that anything I could do to facilitate more sustained contribution would be worthwhile. Finally, I wanted to act as a voice for our lesser known flavors within the governance structure.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on in Ubuntu over the years?

Mostly Lubuntu, where I’ve done a little bit of everything except development. Currently, I’m the Release Manager and Head of QA. I’m also now on the LoCo Council and am the Team Leader for our Ubuntu Oregon LoCo.

What is your focus in Ubuntu today?

As above, Lubuntu. The big thing I want to do is encourage more contributions, especially to bug triage where we are particularly lacking. I want to help with packaing/development, too, so that’s in the works. I’d like to continue to contribute to the community and hope to help with the Community Council when terms expire. Finally, for the Ubuntu Oregon LoCo, I’d like to continue to grow us and make us more active. I also play with Ubuntu Touch and Snappy (on a Raspberry Pi 2) on the side.

Do you contribute to other free/open source projects? Which ones?

I would say that there is no sustained contributions I have anywhere else, though there’s lots of open source projects that I write bug reports for or help test. The latest one that comes to mind is OpenKeychain, a PGP tool for Android.

If you were to give a newcomer some advice about getting involved with Ubuntu, what would it be?

Whoever you are, whatever your skills are, don’t be shy! Not only is there likely a place for your existing skills, but there are lots of friendly people that are often more than happy to help you learn new ones. You do not need to write code to contribute. In fact, there’s a lot of things that the community needs that are not technical. Think about a manufacturer. Sure, they have a production area, and they have engineers, and quality control people, and everything you think about when you think about manufacturing, but don’t forget they also have leaders, marketers, documenters, support staff, etc. The business literally would not run without them.

Do you have any other comments else you wish to share with the community?

Just a note about open source. Maybe you’ve never thought about contribution. You’re a user, your software works, you don’t need anything else. I certainly understand that. There is no requirement to contribute. In fact, in a world full of proprietary and commercial products, you are outright discouraged to contribute. Wouldn’t want to void the warranty. With that in mind, contribution sounds like a pretty alien thing because it is.

Contributing to open source software is more like joining a cause. Uniting with like-minded people for a common purpose. Sure that purpose is only software, but it allows us an opportunity to participate in our world rather than simply being in it. Even the smallest contribution can make a big difference.

Now imagine a whole world where every product encouraged contribution, or better yet, all of life? What if governments operated with transparency and our voices made a significant difference? What if we collectively worked together to find the right solution rather than simply choosing the quick one? Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but what if we moved beyond money and consumerism and instead acted out of egalitarianism? What if the source code to all of life was available to us and we could start hacking it at will? Well, it is, and we can.

As a user of a fringe operating system (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems), you probably already realize that there are many opportunities for change in the world, just waiting for someone to seize them. Now you just need to realize that you can facilitate these sweeping changes through incremental improvements.

That being said, start with something you know, and do something small. Maybe file one really good bug report. Maybe make some documentation. Maybe just spread the word. Whatever you do, join the revolution. Open source is about so much more than just code.

Originally posted here by Svetlana Belkin on June 19, 2015

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