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Arun Gupta Gets Candid About Open Source and Community-Powered Collaboration: Part 2

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Arun Gupta, open source strategist, advocate, and practitioner, recently sat down to talk with Darren Press, Head of Marketing for Software and Advanced Technology at Intel. Arun is the VP and General Manager of Open.Intel, a role he proudly calls the “Chief Storytelling Officer.” During their conversation, Arun shared why he’s so passionate about open source, the importance of mentoring young developers, and how open source communities help people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.

If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 of this interview series for more insight into Arun’s views on open source tech and its potential impact, at Intel and beyond.

 

What’s the best way for young developers or open source novices like me to get involved in the OS community?

“For me, the answer is mentoring. I love mentoring, and I do a lot of it. I often receive direct messages on Twitter from folks who are either in college or just starting their professional careers and are looking for guidance on developing their voice within the open source community. I’m always willing to engage in the conversation and mentor them through it. My advice to them is to pick an area that matters and seek out a contributor workshop that offers tools and knowledge needed to get started. These workshops are great for helping newcomers learn about open source platforms by giving them a chance to get involved and feel like they’re part of something big.”

Why would you say it’s so important to be a mentor for the next generation of developers?

“I strongly believe the responsibility to foster the next generation of professionals is on us. Mentoring people who are early in their careers and helping them achieve something great is a huge priority for me. I am a firm believer in always giving back to the community in whatever way I can. I think if we don’t do that, then it would be a very selfish world.”

It’s truly inspiring to hear you talk about giving back to the community and fostering those early in their careers. What is your favorite story about mentoring?

“It was a few weekends ago when we hosted a Minecraft modding workshop for kids at KubeCon. During the workshop, we taught each one of them how to create a stack of 64 potatoes in Minecraft using Java coding. I remember this little girl—she must have been around nine or ten years old—telling me ‘I’ve never done coding before, but this is so exciting!’ Her enthusiasm really gave me goosebumps and made me think about ways to empower the next generation by helping them understand what possibilities are out there. Someone tweeted after the event, it doesn't take much to go from a stack of 64 potatoes to becoming an expert maintainer. So, I believe that with the right guidance, support, and mentorship, anyone can reach their full potential quickly. I’m always happy to be part of such inspiring initiatives.”

That’s great. I got goosebumps just hearing about it!

You are clearly a great role model for the next generation. I’d love to hear more about what inspires you to devote so much of your time and energy to open source initiatives.

“One of the common sayings in open source is that we always stand on the shoulders of giants, and I think that’s important to think about. I would say in the early days I was quite inspired by Apache Software Foundation on the mission they were trying to achieve, though over the last several years my main source of inspiration has been the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. I’m part of the governing board, and they have really taken open source to a new level where they focus on diversity and inclusion. They’re extremely transparent with that, and they let people bring their true authentic self to open source.”

Very interesting, and it seems like being yourself is a big strength of the open source community.

“It is a massive strength. When I first joined Intel in April 2022, I wrote an article on LinkedIn talking about how important it is to be your authentic self. This is one of the reasons I joined Intel and I am so excited about the culture here.”

Speaking of the open source community—you’ve held technical talks in over 40 countries and have introduced a large portion of the world to what an open source ecosystem can offer. What has that experience been like for you?

“Humbling. It has been the most humbling experience of my life. I’ve had the privilege to travel to places like Brazil, Uganda, Morocco, Singapore, India, and London—all over the world. Everywhere I have gone, I’ve been warmly welcomed by developers who showed eagerness to learn from me but in turn, also taught me countless invaluable lessons about open source technology. The students I talk to, the CIOs, the CTOs, the managers—they always challenge me and make me think of things in ways I never did before. I am always extremely gratuitous and thankful to these people because they help me build my understanding of what open source is about.”

What do you believe your impact has been in the open source community, and with the developers you’re mentoring or engaging with?

“It’s hard to measure the impact, but I would hope over the years I have only enabled more people to contribute to open source.”

I’m sure you have. You are such an inspiration to many!

 Where do you see open source going in the next decade, and what excites you the most?

“When you think about it, there is so much closed source software in the world, and I wish that all of it could become open source. OSS levels the playing field where you can truly compete on a platform that is meritocracy-based as opposed to closed platforms where one vendor is dictating what needs to happen. Now, I don’t think we’ll ever reach 100% open source software, but I’m really excited and looking forward to inching closer and closer to that 100% mark. The closer we get, the happier I am. It’s exciting watching change happen.”

Why are you so passionate about open source at Intel?

“Intel has done such a fantastic job of contributing to the open source community, and my role is to be the storyteller behind this. How do we let the world know that we’re the #1 corporate contributor to the Linux kernel for the last 15 years, or we’re one of the top 10 contributors to Kubernetes, or that we’re one of the top contributors to OpenJDK? How are we making developers’ lives successful? To me, answering those questions and telling those stories are the most exciting parts. I see the hunger and demand within the company, and I’m very excited about it.”

Beyond Intel, what excites you the most about your role in the industry?

“I think it's important to create more opportunities for people who are interested in open source projects, particularly when it comes to mentorship and scholarships. This can help create a more inclusive atmosphere, which allows individuals from all backgrounds to flourish and excel in their open source endeavors. It’s not only about the technical aspects of development, but also about the humans that make up these projects—their skills, goals, and motivations.”

That’s great, Arun. Thank you so much for your time. 

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About the Author
Arun Gupta is vice president and general manager of Open Ecosystem Initiatives at Intel Corporation. He is an open source strategist, advocate, and practitioner for nearly two decades. He has taken companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Sun Microsystems through systemic changes to embrace open source principles, contribute and collaborate effectively. As an elected chair of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Governing Board, Arun works with CNCF leadership and member companies to grow cloud native ecosystem. He has delivered technical talks in 45+ countries, authored multiple books, and is a Docker Captain, Java Champion, and Java User Group leader. He also founded the Devoxx4Kids chapter in the U.S. and continues to promote technology education among children.
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