LibreOffice installer improvements coming, thanks to Ximena Alcaman, Rachael Odetayo and Outreachy

Ximena Alcaman

Today we’re talking to Ximena Alcaman, who is working on LibreOffice installer improvements as part of the Outreachy programme. Outreachy provides internships to people subject to systemic bias and impacted by underrepresentation in the technical industry where they are living.

Ximena is working alongside Rachael Odetayo on the LibreOffice installer, and is being mentored by Marina Latini and Jussi Pakkanen, with support from sponsors SUSE and The Document Foundation. Let’s learn more…

To start with, tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Ximena but most people call me Xime and I’m from Chile. I have a degree in Business Administration, but I recently switched to the tech world to become a software developer. In my free time, I enjoy coding and trying out new technologies. I also like to learn new languages and travel to new places. When I’m not doing all that, you can probably find me in the garden or in the kitchen baking something (hopefully) delicious!

How did you get involved in Outreachy?

I came across a post about the Outreachy internships and it immediately caught my attention. At first, I wasn’t very familiar with open-source, but after doing some research, I soon realized that it was the perfect opportunity for me to gain experience and build my tech career through this internship. On top of that, the chance to be a part of a fantastic community like LibreOffice and to contribute to a product used by millions is truly exciting.

What are you working on in LibreOffice right now?

The Windows installer is a crucial component of the LibreOffice project, as it’s the primary way in which millions of users can install and use the office suite on their computers.

However, the current installer for LibreOffice is based on old code, which makes it difficult to maintain.

Our project aims to address this issue by upgrading to a more modern installer, which will make maintenance a lot easier. We’re using tools like the WiX Toolset and MSI Creator to rework the LibreOffice Windows installer. Our goal is to move away from an outdated infrastructure and upgrade to a more modern one.

Mockup installer screenshot

How can others help out with the things you’re working on?

We’re in the early stages of this project and we could definitely use help from the community. For example, we’re currently trying to localize the right pipeline for the installer and gather the necessary information to build a proper JSON file. However, gathering all the necessary information within the large LibreOffice codebase can be quite difficult. So, if community members can help us to locate the necessary files, it would be greatly appreciated! We would also welcome any testing or bug reports as we continue working on the project.

After this experience, what is your opinion of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion? Did the Outreachy program give you a new perspective or is there anything you would like to highlight?

After this, my belief in the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion has only been reinforced. The Outreachy program has been an incredible experience as it has provided me with the opportunity to work alongside people from different backgrounds and experiences. Outreachy allowed me to learn and grow in a welcoming and supportive environment, which I think is something crucial for underrepresented groups in the tech industry. I believe that having a diverse and inclusive environment is essential for innovation and creativity, and also for creating a more equitable society.

Outreachy logo

Did your opinion of open source change after this experience? How?

Before this experience, I had limited knowledge and understanding of open source, so I had the idea that it was only for advanced students from tech careers or experienced developers. However, my participation in the program has changed my perspective. Outreachy offers opportunities for people of all skill levels and backgrounds, so this made me feel more welcome and included as a newcomer in open source communities.

Is there any contribution, experience, anecdote you would like to share from your time in the Outreachy programme? Would you recommend the program?

When the contribution period started, I had doubts about my programming skills and almost waited for the next cohort to apply again. It took me about two weeks to finally contact my current mentors and I also contacted Ilmari, who kindly provided guidance and support throughout that period. I highly recommend the Outreachy programme for anyone interested in open source, as it provides valuable opportunities to get involved in open source communities and gain experience.

Follow Ximena on WordPress and Twitter. And stay tuned for our next interview, with Rachael Odetayo!


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