Behind the Scenes with Lucas Rocha

Paul Cutler interviews Lucas Rocha on his history in participating in GNOME as a developer and board director, love of music, and motivation for hacking. Lucas is one busy guy!

Short Intro


How did you first become involved with GNOME?

I became involved with GNOME towards the end of 2004 or the beginning of 2005. It was with a small dialog tool, called Zenity, for the command line. At the time Glyn Foster was the maintainer, and I emailed him, not knowing about Bugzilla, and mailed him a patch to implement “Save Mode” on the file selection. And he liked the patch! I didn’t think I’d be good enough, and he accepted the patch with minor comments and that motivated me to do more work.

I spent some time sending small patches to Zenity. When Glyn took a larger role at Sun, he asked me to maintain Zenity. That was another step towards motivation. I never imagined myself working with international software communities.

I would hang out on IRC and try to figure out who else was there and what they do. It’s something I’ve always done since the beginning and I liked to know what everyone was working on, even today.

What other GNOME teams have you or do you work with?

Since I started in 2005, I’ve been contributing in several random ways. I’ve been module maintainer of Eye of GNOME, Zenity, gnome-session (even though I’ve been a lousy maintainer lately…), GNOME Journal release organizer (role now taken by the interviewer), GNOME GSoC admin (nowadays Sandy, Daniel, and Adam), GNOME Foundation board member (since 2007), Release Team member (since 2008), Roadmap Gang coordinator (since 2007), Membership Committee member (between 2006 and 2007), Planet GNOME editor, Drooling Macaque band organizer (that’s a very important one!), GNOME Brazil coordinator (now coordinated by Jonh Wendell and others), GNOME Annual Report editor (since 2007), and some other random stuff. I try to keep a balance between community management type of activities and hacking, as both types of contributions excite me. Recently, I’ve been focusing mostly on the GNOME Foundation Board, Release Team and the coordination of the development of the new GNOME website. Most of my hacking energy is concentrated in my job at Litl (working for a startup can be quite demanding…)

What do you work on today with GNOME?

Much less than I want due to my current job at Litl. When I was at Nokia, I had more time and motivation to work on GNOME. I’ve always been a GNOME volunteer. I am also a member of the release team and the Foundation Board. I’ve been doing some minor coding every 2 months on gnome-session. Well, maybe once a year…. I just don’t have the energy or time for the coding side.

I am currently working at a startup called Litl working on secret stuff that everyone makes jokes about, like Vincent. We’re in startup mode which is a bit of a drain on my time for doing GNOME work.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on GNOME?

It’s a combination of having fun, love of hacking and learning, social activism, meeting new smart and generous people, making friends, visiting nice places, and more! Not necessarily in this order 🙂 Working in such a large project and community like GNOME opened a wide range of personal and professional opportunities for me. And I’m very grateful for that. I have some great friends inside the community and I strongly believe in the fundamental goals of GNOME as a project: a free, open, accessible, easy to use set of technologies that help people to achieve their personal and professional everyday activities.

You were just elected to a second term on the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors. How did you become to be on the board?

I became a board member to replace Dave Neary in 2007 during GUADEC in Birmingham. The board chose me to replace him when he stepped down. I was elected in 2008 and re-elected in the last election.

What do you like about being on the board (Vincent giggles in the background)?

It has a lot to like, as I was saying earlier, where you can support the community in different ways. You learn a lot of what is going on in the community by paying attention to how they are asking for help.

It’s a good position to support the community in a more concrete way, and help make things happen.


Favorite food?

Biased answer, as I haven’t eaten this in a long time. Acaraje’, abara’, and moqueca.

Favorite vacation?

Brazil – It’s weird to say that as a Brazilian! Salvador.

What are you passionate about?

I have basically two passions in life: hacking and music. I started loving music way before hacking. This is mostly because I grew up seeing my Dad playing acoustic guitar with his BPM (Brazilian Popular Music) band at home, parties, bars, etc. So, since I was 12 years old, I’ve been playing (drums/percussion) in different bands of different genres: samba, bossa nova, heavy metal, grunge, hard rock, funk, forró, etc. It’s been some time since I played anything (except at the jam sessions at GUADEC). I really miss it… On the hacking side, I think I started very late from an “average geek” perspective. If I remember correctly, I started doing web development (mostly PHP) a year before I got into university back in 1998. I dived deep into hacking at university where I started to use and develop free software for real thanks to all the smart people I met there.

Who are your favorite GNOME hackers? Why?

Hmm, this list is a bit long… I have several favorite GNOME hackers for a different reason for each: andreasn, vuntz, hp, owen, alexl, ross, federico, mclasen, behdad, walters, desrt, shaunm, and many more.

You originally created the Behind The Scenes interviews for GNOME Journal. What was your inspiration?

It’s not a new idea really. KDE had People Behind KDE and Ubuntu had a similar thing. I thought we needed something similar in GNOME. The cool thing about the Behind the Scenes interviews is that you get to know a contributor from a more personal perspective. It’s something to/from the community. I think the ludic side of working on a free software community must not be forgotten: it’s a fundamental aspect of our daily activities that keeps us all together, working on the same stuff.

Discuss this story with other readers on the GNOME forums.


Posted on August 27, 2009, in August 2009. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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