Featured: Stefano Zacchiroli, Debian

28.04.2011 18:42
Anika Kehrer

Stefano Zacchiroli became project lead of the Linux distribution Debian in 2010 and was re-elected 2011. As "DPL" (Debian Project Lead) is Stefano, who holds a Ph.D. in computer science, the official interface between Debian people and the outside world.

Talk "Debian, 18 years and counting", Thursday, 12.05.2011, Room Berlin II, 12 - 1 p.m: Debian is a project of 1'000 members that do-ocratically and democratically make a GNU/Linux distribution of 30'000 packages. The distribution started in 1993 and is one of the oldest and longest running distribution out there, with an unparalleled focus on quality and stability. If you care about Free Software, you couldn't care more about Debian, nowadays like in 1993. This talk will explain you why and how. To Stefano's talk

Backstage with Stefano

Stefano, as a Debian developer and especially as Debians project lead 2010/2011 you surely come around a lot. How many FOSS events do you visit per year?

Let me do some stats for the last year: FOSDEM, LinuxTag, LCA, DebConf, UDS, a mini-DebConf in Paris, plus a handful of (not so) local events who kindly invited me to attend and speak. Overall I'd say about a dozen per year, not including the countless dinners and drinks with fellow Debian/FOSS geeks who drop by Paris, of course!

Did the experience as Debian DPL change something for you, like providing a surprising new view on something?

'Surprisingly' new view, no, I wouldn't say that much. Still, I've been impressed by how much the formal / corporate / public administration worlds, i.e. all those realities revolving around Free Software but not "communities", might know and care about Debian. It's a pity that volunteers do not always realize that, as it's something to be very proud of.

Apart from Debian and the whole Tekkiverse - which part of life do you find really fascinating?

All kinds of movements where individuals take part in the world surrounding them. The 'Tekkiverse' is an instance of it where geeks take part to shape the (Free) software they use and need, but there's a whole lot more of examples that have always intrigued me, from volunteering in a wide range of social services to politic engagement, NGOs, etc.

In work life, you are a computer science researcher at Université Paris Diderot. What does a typical "Stefano-day" look like?

Wake up at 8:00 and breakfast, email taming for about 1 hour, head to the office at about 10:00, then it really depends. There are days completely absorbed by teaching duties (classes, exams, ...), others are more calm with hectic brainstorming sessions with colleagues, and other yet completely different when we are "under deadline" hurrying up writing a paper, or hacking on the corresponding experiment, for a specific conference or journal. Luckily, days can be very different from one another!

Why did you choose to present a talk at LinuxTag 2011?

It's a venue I find fascinating. Although I generally prefer FOSS conferences where it's the community and only the community that plays the fundamental role, LinuxTag has managed to strike a good balance in the presence of communities and companies which have ties with them.

Stefano's Data Sheet

Place of birth: Bologna, Italy

Place of living: Paris, France

Age: 32

Favourite programming language(s): OCaml

Favourite FOSS operating system flavour(s): Debian! (surprising, eh?)

What is FOSS and Linux all about? My answer in 3 sentences:
Free Software is the guarantee that you are, and you'll always could be, in control of all the computers that populate your life: from "real" computer(s) to mobile phones, from social networks to devices your life depends upon like cars, planes, medical devices, etc.

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