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Q&A: Clement Lefebvre: The man behind Linux Mint

Christopher von Eitzen | Oct. 22, 2013
The creator of the popular Linux distro talks candidly about his goals, his successes and his nightmares.

As the current Linux Mint Project Leader, how active are you in the project, its sub-projects and the day-to-day operations? Is it a full-time job/responsibility, or have other developers stepped in to take some of the weight off?
I still do mostly everything. But that's the way I like it. I wake up in the morning and I have enough work for the next 10 years.

Linux Mint started as a hobby, as something I was doing on my spare time. It grew and it's now something I do full time, every day and with no spare time left for anything else.

I get a lot of help from many people and from the community and I also have two other people working full time with me. I'm not interested in making Linux Mint grow fast though. Seeking investments, funds, renting an office, giving myself a job title and going to work every day as the boss of 20 newly hired engineers isn't what I have in mind. I love what I do, I work with passion, from home, with no commercial ties to anyone, and now and then I get in a position where I can secure yet another salary and make someone else join the adventure.

Knowing what you know now, what (if anything) would you have done differently to the project as a whole if you could go back and change it?
A few things come to mind, but I suppose only in light of the learning I got from the mistakes I made. I think the one thing I regret the most is giving people the impression I cared about politics and getting involved in something that had nothing to do with me. I hurt some people by doing that and that's something I'll always regret. I try and apologize as much as I can to whoever queries me on that and reassure them that absolutely everyone is welcome to join me, no matter where they're from, who they are and what their political beliefs might be. Dividing topics such as these are an awful waste of time. We're passionate about what we do and we do it together with people who don't necessarily agree on everything but agree on the fact that these topics aren't important here, so yes, I deeply regret taking position on one of these and you can be sure I learnt a lot from that and won't get close to any of that again any time soon. Now and then I turn on the TV to watch the news, and that's as far as it goes. When I'm in front of the computer I want to avoid all that, I want positive feelings, positive thinking, constructive interactions, and most of the time I seek sharing and creating new exciting things.


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