Interview - Part I
For our readers, could you please present yourself and your role in the Arch Linux distribution?
Pacman is a package manager written specifically for ArchLinux. It handles binary packages and is focused on being simple and easy to use.
mkinitcpio is a tool allowing you to add modules or change settings to your kernel, sometimes without having to rebuild the kernel image.
I originally began using Arch back in 2003. You could say I grew up on Arch, as most of my heavy technical knowledge was learned on an Arch box. Later on, I was asked to come on board the core development team, and became the lead developer for pacman, as well as developing tools such as mkinitcpio.
Nowadays, Judd, the previous "owner" of Arch, has stepped aside, and I have taken his place. Believe me though, that sounds more prestigious than it actually is. Arch runs smoothly because we have a great group of people working on it. Not because of what I do.
Could you briefly present Arch Linux in the same fashion?
ArchLinux is a distro which puts the user in control. It is a distribution designed to be a platform - a "base" for the user to do what they want. Other distros, for instance Ubuntu, tend to believe that the computer should manage itself and the user should just use it. This is a perfectly fine stance to take, and certainly works well for most people. But not for me. I want to have full control and that is why I use Arch.
Arch is lightweight and simple, like clay - able to be molded by the user as they choose. This means that we don't try to force a user's hand into our way of doing things, with our configuration tools, and our ideas. Developers suggest things, and push in certain directions, but let the user do as they wish.
How many developers are behind Arch? Do you see this number increase in the future?
Yaourt is an alternative front-end to Pacman, giving you extended functionality like compiling and voting for applications on AUR(*).
Alunn is actually written and maintained by a norwegian programmer, Mathias Nedrebø. Alunn is an applet (a small application running on your panel) that notifies you about package updates or news from archlinux.org.
KDEmod is, like the name implies, a KDE modification optimized for Arch Linux. KDEmod includes things like a new visual theme, speed and usability enhancements and modular packages so you can install only the kde applications you want.
*explained in more detail on next page.
According to this page we have 27 developers. Everyone does different things. While I *do* see our numbers increasing in the future, I think that will only come after fully figuring out what everyone's job is, and what holes we have to plug.
What about the community? What is their role in the development, how can they help out and how can they become a "main" developer for Arch?
The Arch community is and always has been amazing. Many of the popular applications these days are community projects - yaourt, kdemod, and many others projects were created by community members, and are used by many people.
Additionally, we have what we call Trusted Users (TU) who manage our [community] repository. It contains less popular packages, packages the developers don't really use, and things like that. The clearest way for community members to help is to become a TU and help out there.