Francis Lacoste recently started on a six-month stint of running the Canonical Launchpad team. It seemed like a good time to find out a little more about him.
Matthew: How did you get into free software?
Francis: It was 1996, with a few friends at university, we started an online cinema magazine and) I developed the first generation of the content management system for the site. I was looking to develop this as a “free for non-commercial use” software. Since my Mac at the time kept crashing (Internet and Apple didn’t worked well), I looked into mklinux which was a Linux variant for Powermac. And then I stumbled upon the GNU Manifesto. This made so much sense to me, that I ditched the “free for non-commercial use” and became a GNU head.
Matthew: What’s more important? Principle or pragmatism?
Francis: What is more important, water or air? This is a false dichotomy. You need principles because otherwise your actions are meaningless, at the same time if your principles cannot be applied, cannot drive to action, then your principles are just wishful thinking. The beauty of this interrelation is that you can start anywhere and find the whole. Start at action, ask yourself what are the principles behind it and then you discover more actions you could make to be more effective. Or you can start at principles and then ask yourself how to apply them which will bring more insights as to some way to improve your principles.
Matthew: Do you/have you contribute(d) to any free software projects?
Francis: Not much since joining Canonical (and having a kid). I still receive emails for perl (sic) modules I developed eons ago. I also worked for a few years on the LogReport project. I also met future-Canonical-colleague Martin Pool on the first implementation of what was to become the Apache Java project. Specifically, I updated the mod_jserv implementation to support the Java 1.1 Servlet specification.
Of course, now that Launchpad is open-source, I do daily contributions to open-source :-p (actually, that’s not even true as my responsibilities don’t leave me a lot of time to code — but contributions is more than just code).
Matthew: Tell us something really cool about Launchpad that not enough people know about.
Francis: Launchpad Answers is a really easy way to build community support around your project. (Full disclosure, that was the app I was responsible for when I joined the Launchpad project.)
Matthew: In the Principia Discordia, Malaclypse the Younger states that all things happen in fives. What five things are coming soon in Launchpad that you’re most excited about?
Francis: 1. In September, we defined a strategic vision for Launchpad around “bridging the gap between upstreams and the Ubuntu distribution”. This will help us to develop a much more focused application.
The current set of features related to the strategic focus you can expect are:
2. Forwarding of triaged bugs from Ubuntu to the upstream bug tracker.
3. Daily Ubuntu packages of upstream tip.
4. Sharing of translations between upstreams tip and the Ubuntu source packages.
5. Zero OOPS Policy. This means rooting out all time outs and errors.
Matthew: Okay, Kiko’s special question! You’re at your computer, you reach for your wallet: what are you most likely to be doing?
Francis: Ordering books on amazon.ca. Although by now, I don’t need to reach for my wallet for this.
Matthew: Thanks Francis!
Photo of Francis Lacoste by Simon Law, CC-BY-SA, published on Flickr.