We've had some great luck catching Markey for an interview. For those that don't know him yet, to quote from his blog: "Hi, my name is Mark Kretschmann. I am the founder of the Amarok project. Amarok is the leading music player for the Linux desktop and one of the most popular KDE applications. We often hear it being called a "killer application" for Linux."
A short while ago Markey even branded himself, he now has the Amarok Logo permanently inked on his right arm, as you can see here
We had the great opportunity to have an interview with Markey. Here's the
result of our Q&A session with Amarok user #1:
What's your favourite beer?
Duvel, a Belgian beer that comes in three varieties, sorted by alcohol level: normal, party, end-up-lying-in-some-corner-talking-bullshit. I prefer the third variety, which (while fatal) also tastes awesome.
What's the best beer for writing code? How much would we have to donate to
keep you coding all the time?
I love beer and I know about the Ballmer-peak , but really I don't think coding and alcohol is compatible. However, I do think moderate alcohol consumption can be helpful for handling certain social aspects of project management, as it can make you more communicative. In Amarok we very much stress the social interaction of our teamsters - they are key to our success. E.g. we're regularly having Skype sessions with Amarok teamsters, and the last thing we talk about there is coding! The focus there is mostly on funny personal topics. This private sense of "friendship" is key to our project, and differentiates us from other projects. We're much like a family, and this even extends into our real lives! Actual real life partnerships have resulted of that, and I think that's really awesome.
You're originally German, don't you have any patriotism when it comes to
Indeed it's a good thing to be German as a beer lover; there are many good beers made over here. Probably among the best beers of the world. Incidentally the Germans not only make decent beer, but they also enjoy drinking it. Lots of it. Which I like.
Seeing that you treat your project members as friends or even "family", is that a model that other projects should try to emulate? How does it work when your team is spread around the globe and can't meet?
It's a good model and I think we're going to maintain it for as long as possible. There's a constant influx of new developers, and some fit in, and others don't. Mostly though this works out well cause we don't take ourselves too seriously (I believe that really smart people have a good sense of humor too. Otherwise I don't consider them truly smart). But a very important factor in this is our Rokymotion (promotion) team, and especially our Community Manager Lydia Pintscher. Imagine her like a modern version of Deanna Troi (Star Trek counsellor), with the gift of "bringing like-minded people together". This is incredibly important for OSS projects, and one of the reasons for our very well functioning community. In Amarok we don't vote about decisions. Also we don't have a dictator. Instead, we always reach a consensus, or try very hard to reach that. That's not an easy goal, but so far we've always achieved it. Which we can be proud of, I believe.
Belgian beer meets geeks - will you be at FOSDEM this year?
I very much hope to attend FOSDEM, and in fact I've already booked a hotel room. Those close to me know of my unreliability in such regards though, which I'd like to apologize for. I hate travelling (the actual transport), as I am a very impatient person and almost go mental on long trains travels, e.g. If there was a teleportation device, I'd visit a lot more conferences for sure. But generally, I hope to be there this year. Meeting fellow open source folks in person is always a blast.
If you could send two people onto a deserted island, who would you send
Let's be honest here: I'd send Christina Aguilera, and Anna Nicole Smith, if she was still alive. This is of course assuming that I could be on that island too ;)
If you had to invite one person for dinner, would you rather have Stallman or Torvalds? What would you cook for them?
I respect both of them, but frankly I think such a dinner is a very contrived situation. It wouldn't happen in real life, and I wouldn't want to partake in that anyway. But I'd get some decent whoppers and fries from BK, because BK of course rocks.
What distribution(s) are you using, and why? What is your opinion about
I'm currently using Kubuntu, and I'm very happy with it. About Gentoo: Let's be frank, compiling software is the last thing I'd like to do after a long day of software development involving compiling my own code. Compiling isn't cool; that's just a misconception of pseudo geeks. In reality it's a necessary evil, and the perfect compiler would take no time at all. So a source-based distro is probably the last thing I'd use. Still, I hear that Gentoo is technically very well put together, and I know some Gentoo developers personally, so I assume it's a smart distro. For me personally though I'd never consider it for a second.
If you could start from scratch, what would be your preferred programming
language at the moment? Which ones would you like to learn if you had lots of
I make no secret of being a very strong Ruby supporter. In fact I even consciously forced Ruby to be a hard dependency of Amarok; partly for technical reasons, partly simply for using my leverage to promote this language more. For me Ruby programming was an eye opener: it's so smart and wonderful on so many levels, and yet easy to learn. I tend to be vocal about such things, and I openly fight Python (which is of course the antichrist) wherever I can. Give Ruby a try, it's just a work of art, and actually useful. I use it whenever I'm not forced to use C++, and I'm even known for my wilds plans to rewrite part of Amarok in Ruby. Maybe with Amarok 3.0, we'll see :)
If you had a million dollars (that's roughly 175Eur at current exchange
rates) - what would you do with it?
At first I'd make sure that I would no longer have to deal with basic life issues, paying rent, food, etc. Then of course give some to my parents and so on. Then, eventually, I'd use the cash to make my dream come true: working on Amarok full-time without monetary pressures. Probably also set up a (non-profit?) company for Amarok, so that we could afford to compensate our contributors. But let's be frank. The first three weeks I'd probably spend in a state of constant partying, substances and girls - I'm no saint, you see. I think partying is crucial for loving yourself, and loving yourself is the only way to really love other people. Think about it :)
So that explains why the Amarok crew parties so hard (see
I personally take pride in the fact that we actually know how to celebrate the moment. You see, at the end of the day, what are you going to remember in 30 years time? The day you fixed some code bug and walked the dog and then talked the day over with your partner, or the day where you totally freaked out, party animal style, dancing until sunrise with people you love, and ending up discussing life philosophies while passing around a joint? You choose.
This concludes our interview, a big thanks to Markey for taking the time for us. We appreciate the honest and lively answers and hope to be able to have a beer with Markey soon.