Home Business IT Open Source The power of one: a Stellar contribution to openSUSE

Like practically every other open source project, the openSUSE community Linux project is low on female participation. But that hasn't deterred Stella Rouzi from joining and making her contribution.

Rouzi (pictured above) hails from Thessaloniki, Greece, and her interest can be gauged from the fact that she took time off from her day job to fly nearly 10,000km to be at the openSUSE summit in Orlando, Florida, last month. The summit, held after the yearly conference of SUSE Linux, the sponsor of openSUSE, ran over two days.

Rouzi has been with the project for two years. Her parents have a small plastic recycling business where she also works; hence she has no way of getting involved in IT professionally even though she has studied the discipline. Following some exposure to Linux at the age of 14, and further involvement with a Linux user group in university, she decided to join openSUSE after coming into contact with people from the project at a conference in 2011.

The degree of her involvement has grown since she organised the last European conference for openSUSE; this a much bigger event than the summit, attracting about 300-odd people.

"The economic situation in Greece made it very difficult to find sponsors," she said. "Even when it came to small amounts like 1000, no Greek company could be found.

"But SUSE and other overseas sponsors helped out and the local university helped with the networking."

Rouzi participated in the last Google Summer of Code and learnt Ruby, adding some functionality to the Open Source Event Manager that is used at conferences like the openSUSE summit. OSEM can be used to keep track of registrations, receive presentations, and assist in scheduling. Other communities have expressed an interest in using it. This is something she plans to revisit and add more features as they come to mind.

Rouzi likes the community aspect of the project. "In the end, open source is all about collaboration," she said during a chat on the fringes of the summit. "Individual wishes are good but there's no point in doing something if nobody wants to use it."

One thing she doesn't like about open source is the flames on mailing lists. "The Greek lists have no flames. I don't like flaming, I think it is a waste of time," she said. "I prefer to exchange opinions and do things to benefit people."

Rouzi finds it easier to operate face-to-face. She likes the global social events. "I find it easier to work when people are together as a team, rather than online," she says.

The situation in her country has also had an impact on her parents' business, with cash flow being affected. Notwithstanding that, she plans to stay involved in the openSUSE community as long as she can. "I work too many hours," she said with a laugh. "As the years pass, I may have to give up some involvement but at the moment things are just fine."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.