Originally Published: Friday, 20 April 2001 Author: Bastien Nocera
Published to: daily_feature/Linux.com Feature Story Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Interview with Telsa Gwynne

Reporting from GUADEC, the Gnome User and Developer Conference in Copenhagen Denmark, Bastien Nocera found the time to catch up with the incomparable Telsa Gwynne and sent us this interview.

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Telsa Gwynne was first brought to the light of the Linux community by her diary dubbed the other side of the story, in which she logs her whereabouts, making an accurate diary unlike her husband's, the kernel hacker Alan Cox. She took some time from the scheduled talks at GUADEC2 in Denmark to talk with me, thanks a lot Telsa.

Linux.com: Hi Telsa... Hmm, how do I pronounce your name again ?

Telsa Gwynne: It's Telsa, not Tesla, and Gwynne that rhymes with win, or sin. The surname is Welsh.

Linux.com: Can you tell us how you got started in the GNOME community ?

Telsa Gwynne: My husband got the gnome-games installed on my machine, and I got hooked on "same-gnome". And I didn't break this game.

Linux.com: What is it you do for GNOME ?

Telsa Gwynne: Writing docs, updating docs, which I don't like because it feels like doing the same job twice and dealing with bug reports. My first bug report took me three hours to fill in. Once, I filled in a three pages long bug report for a typo in the command-line arguments. I didn't know what details they needed, so I included everything I could.

Linux.com: What is the best way to report bugs?

Telsa Gwynne: Persevere. It is very hard to find the right person to talk to, you have to look around a lot. We have to make it easier.

Linux.com: Do you think of IRC as a good way to solve problems ?

Telsa Gwynne: When not on a metered connection, yes.

Linux.com: What do you think is the biggest problem with GNOME or Linux for the beginners ?

Telsa Gwynne: Getting X up and running. Being able to change resolutions on-the-fly, the same way Windows and MacOS do it. The hardest part for beginners is understanding the separation between the kernel, the user-land, X, the window manager and GNOME. Having to mount disks is also tricky to understand at first.

Linux.com: So what do you want to see changing in GNOME ?

Telsa Gwynne: GNOME should be reliable, easy and stable. It's getting there. It has improved. I remember the days when the panel crashed a lot, which it doesn't now... GNOME is not perfect, but it is good enough for productivity.

Linux.com: KDE?

Telsa Gwynne: I never tried KDE. When the KDE project started, I wasn't using X, and I was introduced to GNOME very soon after I got a machine that would run X. And I'm too busy trying to break GNOME to try KDE. (laughs)

Linux.com: What do you think about this GUADEC ?

Telsa Gwynne: It is very good, we get to meet people we only know by name, or meet on IRC, and the hacking room is never empty. On mailing lists recently, people started saying "This is a complicated problem, let's talk about it at GUADEC". And it allows me to add more stamps to my passport. (grin)

Linux.com: What do you think people should do to get started in GNOME ?

Telsa Gwynne: Say "thanks" to the author of the programs you like, it gives energy and will to the developers! And new developers should not take disagreement or rejection of their patches as a personal attack. It's not. After one year in the project, authors seem to get used to how GNOME works. But before that I wonder whether many contributors drop out, because they can't handle the pressure. The world of the mailing lists looks very confrontational. People post to disagree more than they post to agree. Very often "no answer" means "yes", but newcomers don't always know that.

Linux.com: Last words?

Telsa Gwynne: Don't think you have to be able to code C to help GNOME (Note: or any other programming languages supported by the GNOME bindings). The way is to help each other and contribute in all possible manners.

Bastien Nocera is a GNOME hacker that pokes around with much stuff. He can be contacted at hadess@hadess.net.

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