Behind the Scenes: Jeff Waugh

Lucas Rocha launches the Behind the Scenes series which aims to bring informative and entertaining profiles of people who contribute to GNOME. This is based on “The People Behind KDE” initiative. In this issue, he interviews Jeff Waugh, the perky pants guy. Enjoy!

A Short Intro

  • Age: Dum-de-dum… 🙂
  • Located in:: Sydney, Australia
  • Profession:: Ubuntu Business & Community Development for Canonical Ltd
  • Nickname on IRC: jdub (freenode and gimpnet)
  • Homepage and blog:


In what ways do you contribute to GNOME?

I’m the Release Manager Emeritus, which means that I can safely worry myself to sleep, but not have to do anything about it. The ‘emeritus’ bit is a meme that Luis and I are attempting to propagate… He’s Bugmaster Emeritus. It’s catching on. Sort of. 😉 Having done release management, GARNOME, all kinds of odd jobs around the place and maintaining Planet GNOME, I’m mostly taking a breather and looking for my next big project within GNOME. I’m back on the Foundation Board this year, too.

How and when did you get involved in GNOME?

I had been hanging about on the periphery and using GNOME since around 1999, slowly coming to the realisation that my meagre coding skills were not going to be the most useful way for me to contribute back – I was no match for the hackers already working on GNOME – so I’d have to find something else to do. In late 2001, the Foundation Board asked for volunteers to help with the 2.0 release process, so I signed up to help in any way I could. By December, the 2.0 release manager, Maciej Stachowiak, was way too busy at his new job, and I had essentially taken on his role… Though I didn’t quite see it that way until he emailed me to suggest I take it on officially. That was a surprise. Since then my involvement in GNOME, and my involvement in Free Software, has snowballed. 🙂

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on GNOME?

The unbeatable combination of moral philosophy and design philosophy, and of course, the awesome people and community.

How much time do you usually spend on GNOME?

What my employer and Pia do not demand of me, often to the detriment of my sleeping patterns. 😉

Which distribution do you use? Why?

Ubuntu, always on the developer branch, because it keeps me at the cutting edge of GNOME… and the rest of the Free Software world! I’ve always felt that Debian got so many things right – I’m really enjoying the opportunity to take GNOME, Debian and FREEDOM to the masses through Ubuntu.

What is the GNOME’s killer app? Why?

There are no killer apps. 🙂 I am quite serious about that. If we look at the kinds of things we describe as ‘killer apps’, they’re almost always killer network effects. Look at the success of LAMP – which is the killer app? Is it Linux, Apache, one of the Free databases, or one of the Free languages that rocks for web stuff? None of them. It was a network effect, from cheap commodity hardware through a capable and flexible software stack, and the massive expansion of commerce on the web. Same with the iPod. It’s not a killer device – it’s just good quality hardware, matched with a strong network effect between it, iTunes and ITMS. I’d love readers to think about the kinds of network effects we can employ to drive GNOME adoption!

What does your desktop look like?

Rather like the default Ubuntu layout, though on my laptop I’ve removed the bottom panel. I disable the minimise button in metacity, because I never do it, and I don’t have the silly window switcher applet taking up space. 🙂

Which book is on your bedside table?

  • No Logo by Naomi Klein
  • Will in the World (a biography of William Shakespeare)
  • In the Beginning (a History of the King James Bible)
  • The Road to Airstrip One (a biography of George Orwell)

Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most?

I think I missed out on the wise, inspirational sensei/role model/mentor figure! That would’ve been a convenient answer to this question. In reality, I don’t think the things that sharpened and rounded my personality are going to be pleasing stories, but the hunger and drive had to come from somewhere.

How would you describe yourself?

Perky. Pants. Perkypants.

What do you get passionate about?

  • User experience
  • Community
  • Performance, song and writing
  • Defending the ‘Big Freedoms’ through Free Software
  • Connecting good dots
  • A growing interest in proper installation of airconditioning systems
  • Pia – she’s the turbocharger under my hood and nitro in my fuel tank

What sites do you visit daily?

Lots of Planets. 🙂

Free Software or Open Source?

I see them as two sides of the same coin, but ultimately, what excites me is Freedom and community, not Process and methodology. 🙂

Married, partner or single?

Married to Pia.

If you have a partner or children, how do they cope with a GNOME addict?

Given that Pia is also deeply involved in the Free Software community, most people who see us in action are concerned about how the rest of the world is going to cope with us. 🙂

If someone visits your country, which spot is a must-see? 2007, which will be held in Sydney in January! 🙂


A personality?

Do you mean like… “anal retentive”… “Reese Witherspoon”… or both?

A phrase?

“A problem worthy of attack, proves its worth by fighting back.” – Paul Erdos (with the funny O, which I can’t type)

A movie?

UHF, “Weird” Al Yankovic’s insane movie from the early nineties. Go see it.

A food?

Sashimi, wasabi, soy. Can’t go wrong.

A place?

The energy centre of the Earth, according to the Dalai Lama, is where a set of limestone boulders sits in a glacial plain somewhere between Christchurch and the west coast of New Zealand. Glynn Foster (Gman, and the Face of Sun Microsystems) took Pia and I there on our recent trip to New Zealand (where was held this year).

A text editor?


A band?


A song?

Candy by Iggy Pop (with Kate Pierson from the B-52s). I’ve been listening to it quite a bit lately. No idea why.

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.

Posted on February 16, 2006, in February 2006. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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