Small and huge change

It’s with mixed feelings that…. well no, my feelings are as whole today as they were when I joined a beautiful company of 4500 employees back in 2000 with a production line of PCs and servers at Isle d’Abeau (IDA), France, a super dynamic Lab for these same PCs where J.B. Chaffardon was trying to get HP to enter into a partnership with MandrakeSoft to preinstall Linux, an integration center at IDA also for whom I found MondoRescue which allowed pre-installation of Linux with images tailored for our NetServers LP1000r, and of which I will later become the project leader, with around a hundred pre-sales throughout EMEA for which I have organized dedicated trainings around Linux, MC Service Guard, automatic deployment of Linux distributions (PXE and kickstart), and with incredible engineers everywhere and a corporate culture that still smelled good of H and P.

In 2000, it was the debut of Linux within HP, the LSO/LBDO group led by Martin Fink had just been created, and HP was looking to increase its market share with this system. Me, I was doing only that, Linux on HP machines since 1995 within Medasys, an exclusive HP reseller in France. I had created the HP-HOWTO and had been able to establish contacts with Gilles Noisette, Emmanuel Avrillon and Ludovic Didierlaurent from the Presales EMEA Servers team during meetings between HP and partners. It was to move on to a larger scale that I submitted my application to HP at the end of 2000, both in Les Ulis and in Grenoble. And I had 2 proposals 😉 But the international team tempted me much more, even if it meant “going into exile in Grenoble”. But believe me, I have never regretted! And so I joined the NetServer team as Presales EMEA in charge of Linux development. The dream !

So we (Presales EMEA) helped our colleagues to make HP the best seller of Linux servers in EMEA, recruited for this by Roger Macia, a very active manager and supported by his own management, in December 2000. 6 months later, I didn’t have a job anymore ;-), but Roger told me not to worry (I didn’t know then that it was “normal”!!). He found me an opportunity in TID (current CTG if that hasn’t changed yet !) with BUC, but I ended up continuing as PreSales for another year and a half in another team, still promoting Linux on NetServer . So I also continued to work with Frédéric Passeron or Gallig Renaud who became more than colleagues and who helped me to progress, as I hope I was also able to do so for them. Let’s be honest, I didn’t stay in this team for the management, but for the atmosphere, the colleagues and the interesting work.

Meanwhile, Roger created the Solution Center at B10, with the financial support of Intel and he made me come there, to do projects around Linux for our customers, first Telco, then quickly for a whole host of other sectors. We did workshops, PoCs, performance analyses. We made things work that few people managed to make work, we helped right and left, often solicited by the countries, in particular those which did not have a dedicated pre-sales resources. We made boot media for machines that didn’t have the right drivers provided with Jean-Marc André, we optimized LVM to beat a video stream record with Arnaud Meurant, we tuned Oracle on DL980 with Gilles Noisette and Yann Allandit, being among the first to blow up the top command given the number of threads to manage.

And above all, I was able to integrate various communities: The Linux Ambassadors, in the creation of which I had the opportunity to participate, which allowed me to travel to the US and also meet wonderful people there. I still remember that day in 2004 when I met Bryan Gartner and we talked for 3 hours realizing that we had the same passions: Linux, distributions, deployment, automation. With Bryan we even spent family vacations together! I was also able to continue to manage my small community around MondoRescue, rub shoulders with that of the Linux kernel during Linux Conf in the US or in Europe where I had the pleasure of giving numerous technical presentations. This whetted my appetite and allowed me to present for HP on 5 continents, see interesting countries and meet lots of people who are no less interesting. And internally participate in the animation of the Open Source and Linux Profession of more than 5000 members at the time.

And what wealth internally! I was able to discuss with technologists such as Jeremy Allison, Bdale Garbee, Bruce Perens, Stéphane Eranian, Jeff Autor, Boris Balacheff, Sébastien Cabaniols, James Cameron, Patrick Demichel, Samer El-Haj-Mahmoud, Paolo Faraboschi, Dann Frazier, Estella Jangaon, Ebbe Jonsson, Linda Knippers, Martin Michlmayr, Keith Packard, Dave Penkler, Stormy Peters, Mark Seger, James Singer, Kartik Subbarao, Harry Sutton, Tom Vaden, Jimmy Vance, Lester Wade, Terry Young, Eileen Evans, Phil Robb, Matt Foley to name just a few that stood out to me.

And that allowed me to shake hands with Linus Torvalds 3 times and thank him for allowing me to pursue both a profession and a passion for so long, while being paid to do so, the pursuit of the dream 😉

After the Linux wave, the wave of migration from Unix to Linux, from Oracle to free DBMS, which led me to support Ericsson in their adoption of Linux for their core network products, big deal for HPE. On the free software side there was the acquisition of Palm (which LG continues to use well on their devices), the arrival of the public cloud with OpenStack, then the native cloud madness but above all and more interesting for me Docker and containers. This again made it possible to organize trainings for the EMEA teams around bricks like Eucalyptus (a takeover) or Mesosphere, not to mention OpenStack and Docker. Unfortunately, the Solution Center team ended up being split between Geneva and Grenoble, which corresponded with less involvement in interesting projects on the technical side, but also a desire to better understand the operations leading to such choices, after having attended the debates in CSE as RS (union representative for the management/employee worker council).

I then found myself on the CFTC list for the employee representative elections at the end of 2019, elected and working as deputy secretary of the CSE. I gradually switched to this other way of helping my colleagues when it is done well, which is trade unionism, which the team in which I am lucky enough to work does its best for, thanks to Françoise, Marc, Catherine, Corinne, Magali, Andi, … I had the chance to discover other skills in some of my colleagues with whom I had never worked before, and fascinating subjects such as professional equality, the management of social works, the negotiation of agreements… all this with the friendship of employees whose only goal is the best defense of others and to obtain the most extreme conditions for their development. Not so far as the philosophy of free software finally, where we promote bricks that allow us to get the best out of our systems. This also led me to become an administrator, then president of InterCE (a sport/leasure/culture association/foundation) to allow the site to keep as long as possible 33 activities done jointly by former HP employees, including the Coups de Coeur shows to which Marie-Jane introduced to me in 2002. I also have the chance to work with a formidable team of CSE employees staff (Emmanuel, Cécile, Laurence, Emilie, Ingrid and Fatima) who struggle every day so that employees do not have to 🙂

And more recently, I had the chance to be involved in supporting local training actions at Campus Numérique (on free software) and consultancy with Startups (HPE program or Réseau Entreprendre Isère) all great local initiatives that I can only encourage you to support as well if you have some volunteer time to devote to the businesses in the area. For my part, I intend to continue these actions as long as I remain technologically relevant.

So, given my canonical age (yes I knew the 5″ 1/4 floppy disk and the minitel, but not the magnetic tapes, you shouldn’t exaggerate either ;-)), it’s time that the dinosaurs left make way for young engineers who will have fun with Rust, K8s, full stack dev, functional languages, AI… as long as they continue to do so on our Linux systems which will ensure our IT freedom, it is to say allow everyone to be in control of their data and their processing. Think about it the next time you use a tool in the cloud and remember that free access is often not synonymous with free software!

Since 1995, everything I do in computing has worked and continues to work on my OS of choice and heart. Including here at HP then HPE where I always had a Workstation and a laptop under Linux. This can sometimes require some sacrifices. Never anything that I have regretted there either. And how much benefit I got from it by being able to make LDAP queries, having a procmail filtering my messages, … dinosaur stuff!!

So I’m officially leaving HPE this October 28 for a mobility leave (or early retirement program), but like the bindweed, I’m going to hang on a little longer on the Grenoble site, first by remaining elected until the HPEF-HPCCF merger in May 2023, as well as continuing my role as President of InterCE. But above all by continuing to make free software within the Mageia community, a distribution that I co-develop with dozens of others, and lots of other software that I will no doubt have more time to promote, as my contributions to the Workshop on Demand projet that was recently opensourced by HPE. And if you like early music, that will be one more reason to meet in the future, since in addition to singing and playing the recorder, which I continue to do, I’m taking up the cornetto!

A big thankyou for everything ! To you for having supported me during these 7985 days and to my wife and my children for having been so understanding to allow me to live all these dreams, ultimately very real, to the fullest.

“We strongly believed in people. For us, the goal was for everyone to seek fun and fulfillment in their work”, David Packard in his book “The HP Way”

Thank you gentlemen H and P, your goal was also mine, and thanks to you and those mentioned above, and all of you that I met along this incredible journey, I was able to achieve them. Because like all of us who leave, it is our colleagues who will be missed the most. Hats off to them and I wish you all great times here.

Sincerely, and sorry to have been once again (but it’s the last time!) so long,


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One Response to “Small and huge change”

  1. Yves Riguet Says:

    Merci d’avoir éclairé mon chemin dans le logiciel libre. Et merci pour l’avoir fait avec cet esprit du partage qui m’inspire et me motive encore aujourd’hui.

    Respect, Papa Ours.

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