What’s an open supply evangelist?

When individuals study that I work as an open supply evangelist (specializing in syslog-ng and sudo), they usually ask me what it is prefer to symbolize such well-known names within the Linux world. My brief reply: It is good!

I’m a part of analysis and improvement, so it’s by no means boring. I really feel that I make an impression when individuals implement what they study from me and when the suggestions I accumulate from customers influences the event of the product.

What’s an evangelist?

I outline an evangelist as a bridge between a software program’s (or different product’s) customers and its builders. It isn’t nearly sharing excellent news with customers but in addition gathering suggestions from them.

Evangelists come from a variety of backgrounds. Some individuals have a advertising and marketing background with a powerful curiosity in expertise. Some are builders who like speaking to customers. I belong to a 3rd group, “energy customers,” or individuals with in-depth data a few software program product from the person’s perspective.

In my job, I work with many, many customers. The syslog-ng person base is gigantic. It’s out there on most Linux distributions and BSD variants. Tons of of thousands and thousands of gadgets run syslog-ng, together with each the BMW i3 and the Kindle. Most BSD-based home equipment, like FreeNAS, run syslog-ng for logging, as do Linux-based network-attached storages (NAS) gadgets from Synology and QNAP. I might not be stunned to study that syslog-ng is operating someplace in house.

Most Linux and Unix customers use sudo since it’s put in on virtually each Linux machine on the market. Its group is big, with tens of thousands and thousands of individuals. Individuals usually ask me how I deal with these massive numbers of customers, however it isn’t troublesome.

How I turned an evangelist

My journey to turning into an evangelist was an evolutionary course of that spanned practically 20 years. It began a few years in the past whereas I used to be instructing at a college. My subsequent step was working with POWER/PowerPC Linux customers and builders. Lastly, I began to cowl syslog-ng in my job at Balabit and later started working with sudo.

My first job at Balabit was to assist Linux distributions replace the syslog-ng bundle to the newest upstream model. As I realized increasingly more about syslog-ng’s particulars, I used to be requested to assist its customers. A yr later, I used to be giving talks about syslog-ng at Hungarian and worldwide conferences. Quickly after, the suggestions I collected from customers began to make an impression on product improvement.

Eight years later, in 2018, Balabit was acquired by One Identification, and Todd Miller, sudo’s maintainer, turned my colleague. Till then, I knew just some fundamental sudo options, however I turned extra all in favour of sudo and studying about its superior options. Quickly, I used to be additionally evangelizing sudo and evolving from a syslog-ng evangelist right into a extra generic open supply evangelist.

4 pillars of technical evangelism

Technical evangelists do many issues that may be broadly divided into 4 classes: developer, help, technical product advertising and marketing, and product administration. I am going to have a look at every of those 4 pillars of technical evangelism in additional element.


I’m not a developer, however I do many issues that builders do, equivalent to packaging syslog-ng for numerous Linux distributions and FreeBSD, doing a lot of testing, integrating syslog-ng with different software program, and testing it on unique platforms. The developer duties I do assist the group and helps me perceive its wants higher.


Following bug trackers, watching the syslog-ng key phrase in Google Alerts and Twitter, and studying the mailing record allow me to assist our person base higher. By serving to our customers, I additionally perceive their issues higher.

Technical product advertising and marketing

I actually don’t just like the time period “advertising and marketing,” however writing blogs and speaking at conferences is advertising and marketing. As a former sysadmin, I do know my viewers, and we’ve a typical voice. Together with my very own Twitter deal with, @PCzanik, I additionally publish underneath the @sngOSE (syslog-ng open supply version) and @SudoProject (sudo) handles.

Twitter is a improbable platform to gather and share technical information. Advertising and marketing is essentially the most seen a part of my work as an evangelist, even when it is only one facet of my job.

  • Occasion survival ideas for introverts: When individuals study that I’m doing this job though I’m an introvert, they usually ask me how I do it. Giving a chat or working at a convention sales space all day lengthy might be troublesome; there are too many individuals, an excessive amount of noise. Listed below are my survival ideas for occasions:
    • Give attention to the outcomes. Occasions are the very best alternative to gather suggestions from customers. After your speak, you’ll be able to have good discussions wherever, even on the sales space or within the hallway. Customers give numerous suggestions in actual life at occasions, and remembering their feedback helps so much.
    • Bear in mind when the occasion is over. Figuring out that it’s a must to keep just one extra hour in an atmosphere with a excessive stage of noise helps so much.
    • Get pleasure from that you just get to speak to like-minded individuals who have the identical shyness, insecurity, and technical pursuits as you’ve got.
  • Advertising and marketing ideas throughout a pandemic: Many individuals have requested me how COVID-19 has affected my work since I have not been capable of journey since March 2020. I got here again from speaking on the RSA Convention and Southern California Linux Expo simply two days earlier than flights had been suspended and borders had been closed. Though all conferences are digital proper now, I can nonetheless give talks about sudo and syslog-ng. However this implies suggestions is lacking or minimal—there isn’t any hallway observe to satisfy customers nor a dinner for audio system to debate the newest and best applied sciences. Participation and a spotlight are additionally much less centered, as there are many distractions when persons are working from dwelling. I’ve seen many alternative efforts to work round this example. Every has its personal drawbacks and benefits:
    • A world chat room is nice for a smaller occasion. But when an occasion has greater than only a few dozen individuals, then it turns right into a steady roll of ‘Hello from Boston, MA’ and related messages with out a likelihood for a significant dialog.
    • If an occasion has a number of tracks, a devoted chat for every observe might be useful. Each the customers and the speaker can study so much from the questions and remarks posted within the chat. A moderator could make it twice as a lot helpful, preserving the dialogue on matter and ensuring that questions attain the speaker through the Q&Part of the speak.
    • A chat roulette is nice to attach random strangers and may end in good discussions. However for a speaker, it’s method too random.
    • Monitoring chats is nice however many individuals are uncomfortable to publish questions or share experiences in public. A chance for direct chat with the speaker can resolve this drawback.

Product administration

I’m not a product supervisor, though typically I want that the suggestions I accumulate could possibly be turned instantly into options. Nonetheless, I recurrently share customers’ suggestions with builders and product administration. In inner discussions, I at all times symbolize the customers’ facet relatively than the simplest method ahead for builders or what’s going to generate essentially the most income.

Why evangelize broadly recognized and used software program?

Each Linux person is aware of sudo, and plenty of of them additionally know syslog-ng. So why evangelize? Properly, most individuals know simply the very fundamentals of those purposes, which they realized once they began to play with Linux. However neither is a straightforward utility that has been in upkeep mode for many years; each live software program nonetheless underneath steady improvement.

What most individuals learn about syslog-ng is that it collects log messages and saves them to textual content information. Nevertheless it has numerous different options, together with parsing messages, enriching messages with geographical data, exact message routing (filtering), and saving messages to databases, Hadoop, or message queues.

Sudo is generally often known as a prefix for administrative instructions, however it could actually do much more. It might probably report periods that run by way of it, permitting you to test what your customers are doing once they train their superpowers by way of sudo. You may as well lengthen sudo with plugins. Beginning with sudo model 1.9, you’ll be able to even lengthen sudo in Python, making the method so much simpler.


Being an open supply evangelist is a really attention-grabbing and enjoyable job, even within the COVID-19 period, which has definitely added difficulties to my work. When you have different questions concerning the position or have a narrative about how a technical evangelist or developer advocate has helped you, please share them within the feedback.


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