Living The Linux Life | WTR 25

Living The Linux Life | WTR 25

Live from LFNW Scarlett Clark tells us about her work with KDE and Kubuntu!

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ANGELA: This is Women’s Tech Radio.
PAIGE: A show on the Jupiter Broadcasting Network, interviewing interesting women in technology. Exploring their roles and how they’re successful in technology careers. I’m Paige.
ANGELA: And I’m Angela.
PAIGE: Angela, today we’re going to interview at Linux Fest Northwest live. We’re doing an interview with Scarlett Clark. She’s a developer on the KDE project and also works for Kubuntu.
ANGELA: But, before we get into the interview, I want to tell you about You can go to to support Women’s Tech Radio and all the other shows on teh Jupiter Broadcasting Network. Go to and see if there’s another show that you might want to listen to in addition to Women’s Tech Radio. Again, go to
PAIGE: And we got started with this week’s episode by asking Scarlett what she does with KDE and Kubuntu.
SCARLETT: I am a developer for Kubuntu, so I do a lot of the packaging for the software applications for the user to be able to easily install and whatnot. And then, on the other side of the spectrum I created, wrote all the code to automate job creation and job building for KDE’s continuous integration system. Which, it builds the software packages and then test them to make sure that its functional. And then after they all turn green like they’re supposed to, they’re ready to release to distributions like Kubuntu. And I also went the extra step, and we now are testing for OS X and Windows will be coming next.
PAIGE: Oh, wow.
SCARLETT: Yeah, all the code is already in there. It’s just figuring — Windows is a little more complicated because getting dependencies, you can’t tell the continuous integration system to, hey go to this website, download this file, and use it as a dependency. So, it gets little more complicated, but once we sort that out Windows will also be supported with KDE software.
PAIGE: Wow, I had no idea you guys were going for that. That’s really awesome. Before you did this project was their not test coverage for KDE?
SCARLETT: They had a very old system and it was not reliable. And it was also — the job creation was all manual, and OS X and Windows were not supported.
PAIGE: That’s pretty deep in the weeds. Like building, testing, and all that jazz –
PAIGE: – for such a big, robust piece of software. Was that you just woke up one morning and decided to do? How did you end up where you are?
SCARLETT: No, actually, Valerie, the gal you just spoke to, they do this season of KDE and it generally targets students. Obviously, I’m not a student. But, this project didn’t have anybody grabbing on it and she just asked me, are you interested in Dev Ops. I’m like, I’m interested in everything. So, she introduced me to Ben Cooksy, the main sys admin guy, and got rolling. I had no idea what I was getting into when I got into it. So, I ended up learning Groovy, Python, and Java on the fly. I had taken a few classes, but that was years ago in university.
ANGELA: What had you done prior to that? Was anything prior to that technology related other than the several classes you mentioned?
SCARLETT: A long time ago I was IT.
ANGELA: Oh, okay.
SCARLETT: But I had not had any real world experience coding. So, this is my first real world experience coding and i love it.
PAIGE: So, you went from no coding to developing a new test suite for KDE?
SCARLETT: Yes, the back end.
PAIGE: So, how was that journey? How did you go through that? Because learning that many languages and that much theory on the fly –
SCARLETT: Yes. At first it was very overwhelming and I just stared at the blank sheet going, oh no. Oh no. But then, I just bits and pieces at a time and things started coming together, and then oh that makes sense. ANd then it just all came together. And then when the final result, we just went live two days ago and it was smooth.
PAIGE: How long did that project take for you?
SCARLETT: It was several months.
PAIGE: Wow, only months?
SCARLETT: Oh yeah.
SCARLETT: Actually, yeah, I surprised a lot of people with how fast.
PAIGE: So, doing all that and learning all that, were there awesome resources that you were using? Was it the community? Did you have books that were –
ANGELA: Online courses?
SCARLETT: Google was good.
ANGELA: Yeah, I bet.
PAIGE: So, I have a lot of ladies who are trying to get in tech, and their biggest holdback is learning how to Google the right things. Did you find that was difficult at first., like knowing how to ask the right questions?
SCARLETT: I’ve been using Google since they were in the garage.
PAIGE: Nice, but asking the right tech question.
ANGELA: Yeah, like sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
SCARLETT: I know. That’s actually that you have to develop over time, because I’ve learned to figure out what to ask and how to ask it, and sometimes you don’t get it right the first time and you just have to reword it. That can be challenging. That is just it. When I first started the project I didn’t know what I was looking. So, I actually branched off in wrong directions at first. I had a few setbacks because I wanted to go be a docker, which is the new cool technology. But, it wasn’t — with the OS X and Windows, that ended up being wasted time, because you won’t get native builds, because Docker is Linux. That didn’t quite pan out, but it was fun learning.
PAIGE: Yeah, it’s always good to add new stack to your brain.
SCARLETT: Oh yeah. Yeah.
ANGELA: Yeah. Something will resonate and help you learn something else.
SCARLETT: Absolutely. Yelah.
PAIGE: So, tell me the story of why you were in IT before, and then you weren’t, and now you are again.
SCARLETT: That’s a story of — I had to give up my career to follow my husband to another state and I could not recover.
ANGELA: That’s too bad. Well, you have now.
SCARLETT: I have. Well, yes.
PAIGE: Was it really difficult for you diving back in afterwards, or did it just kind of re-spark that? We had a guest who talks about kind of the mental stimulation of being in this technical field.
SCARLETT: Yeah, I’ve been a Linux advocate/user since 1998. I have my big stack of Red Hat floppy disc. But I have always wanted to contribute, and I could never really find my way in. It’s a tight knit community. But I finally found my way in with Kubuntu and Jonathan Riddell. He just stepped up and, you want to learn how to package? I’m like, sure. He just showed me the ropes and I’ve just been riding the cloud since.
PAIGE: How did you get in touch with Jonathan? What was that?
SCARLETT: I knew Valerie from several mailing groups and stuff. She saw that I was doing documentation for KDE. Actually, an easy way in is doing documentation. And then she introduced me to Jonathan.
PAIGE: I think we have some people who are just getting started. What does doing documentation mean? What does that look like?
SCARLETT: The easiest way is to start with, like Wiki. It’s much simpler than Doc Books. You pretty much well have to know XML and the layout and everything. But Wiki is pretty much just plain text. You just find an app that you really love and just use it, and figure out — use cases of, well somebody might want to do this, and then you just instruct them how to do that and just build on it. That’s the easiest way to really get your food in the door, and it’s pretty simple because you figure out ways that you use the application and then just write about it.
PAIGE: I think, especially as a newer user of an application, sometimes you have an even more valuable input for that.
SCARLETT: Oh yeah.
PAIGE: Because you have just learned it. You know where the pain points are.
ANGELA: Yes. That is, in my current conversion to Linux, it’s very refreshing for the Linux Action Show audience to hear this new user perspective.
SCARLETT: Yes, absolutely. And a lot of times, developers don’t even think of things that a user would try or want to do with their application, so it’s a good way to also give feedback to the developers. I worked on KMail documentation and there was a lot of things that I ran into. I would talk to the developer, how do you do this. And they’re like, oh, well I need to fix that. Thank you.
PAIGE: Did you find being primarily in open source that reaching out to the developer, that was actually a welcomed thing?
SCARLETT: Not generally, but with KDE the are surprisingly very open and very, very nice. I’ve just felt really at home with KDE. It’s been a nice breath of fresh air.
PAIGE: So, you know, don’t give up looking for the right community.
SCARLETT: You’ll find it. Yeah. I’ve been looking for a long time and I just stumbled into it and didn’t expect it.
ANGELA: So, are you from around here?
SCARLETT: I live in Portland, Oregon.
ANGELA: Okay. Do you always come to Linux Fest? And are there any other festivals that you go to?
SCARLETT: This is my first one, but I will be from now on coming to Linux Fest.
ANGELA: I know, isn’t it great?
SCARLETT: Yes, but I go to Academy each year, which is in various places in Europe. This year we’re going to Spain. And then in September I’ll be going into a Random meeting which is in Switzerland for KDE.
ANGELA: Great.
PAIGE: Awesome.
SCARLETT: Yeah, fun and exciting.
PAIGE: So, you’re in Portland. Is the rest of the KDE team in Portland?
SCARLETT: No, KDE is all around the world.
PAIGE: How do you guys work together? What kind of tools do you use to keep in touch?
SCARLETT: Yeah, I live in IRC.
PAIGE: Do you use version control to work together?
PAIGE: Git, which is, of course of Linux. Linus, thank you. What’s your stack of tools look like right now. I always like to find out what other developers are using.
SCARLETT: I use Eclipse because it’s the only good Groovy plugin that I could find. And I use KDevelop for the Python work.
PAIGE: And do you have a favorite hardware, like laptop, tablet that you’re into? Or because KDE is so nice and friendly it works on just about everything?
SCARLETT: Yeah, I have Kubuntu on my desktop, my laptop, and then my phone has, you know, Android.
PAIGE: Very cool. So, I guess last question, what are you the most excited about, about what’s coming down the pipe for technology? Either with Linux or just with general stuff.
SCARLETT: We are going to be porting our apps on to Android, so that’s kind of big.
PAIGE: Oh wow, that’s exciting.
SCARLETT: That’s what the whole Switzerland trip is about.
PAIGE: Oh nice. Very cool. We’ll have to keep an eye on that. That will be great. KDE on your Android.
ANGELA: Thank you for listening to his episode of Women’s Tech Radio. Don’t forget, you can email us,, or you can use the contact form that is over at
PAIGE: Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @HeyWTR. You can also find us on iTunes or any of your other RSS feeds. The RSS feed is available on the website at And if you have a minute, leave us a review or some feedback. We’d love to hear from you.

Transcribed by Carrie Cotter |

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