In conversation with Shivani Bhardwaj, Developer at Suricata IDS
Read our interview with Shivani Bhardwaj. She currently works at The Open Information Security Foundation and contributes to Suricata IDS.
In this Interview, Shivani shares her journey, how she started contributing to FOSS, her views on the current education system and what approach students and young developers should take to learn to program, her thoughts on the gender diversity gap in the FOSS ecosystem.
Shivani Bhardwaj works for The Open Information Security Foundation, a non-profit organization created to build community and to support open source security technologies. She contributes to Suricata, which is an open source tool for intrusion detection system and intrusion prevention system. She is interested in Programming, Linux and Mathematics. Read this Interview to know more about her journey and her work.
Tell me about yourself.
I'm Shivani: The developer who does not need caffeine. I flaunt about it because every developer that I know is a coffee addict. ;) I have no particular place to stay so I keep on moving around and working from different places (unless there is a pandemic). I have been working for almost 4 years now (wow didn't realize it myself!) out of which a little over 2 years have been with a non-profit organization, The Open Information Security Foundation developing helper tools and parts of Suricata IDS (which is FOSS and awesome, check it out! :) ) I love mountains, food and anything fluffy. I do not like debating whether cats are better or dogs are. (Because we all know the answer)
How was your college experience? How did you get introduced to FOSS contribution?
My college experience was pretty good. I did not get much knowledge about FOSS contribution there at my time but the culture has evolved now and I hear students doing quite well with FOSS. In my initial days when I was trying to figure out the command line and Ubuntu, I wanted to have all cool apps and a system straight out of r/unixp*rn. I do not recall where did I read about the mutt e-mail client but I was unable to make it work (like most other things then and now...). Upon searching, I found a guide on this website called kernelnewbies.org. I don't recall if that guide worked for me but I saw something advertised on top of the webpage in H1 -- OPW (Outreachy program for Women). I had no idea what it was but there was a link to join a google group so I joined it but there wasn't anybody talking there so I forgot about it. A few months/days later, I received an e-mail that OPW is now Outreachy. Then, I looked up what it was about. Soon people started contributing to the Linux kernel. Looked pretty cool so I decided to give it a try. I started later than I should have but it worked out. I contributed some trivial patches and developed some confidence, and then some more me landed the internship with Netfilter and then did some even better patches. This was the beginning of my FOSS journey. I later joined many communities to keep my interest alive. Soon enough, luckily, I was offered a job with FOSS (my current role at OISF).
Why do you contribute to FOSS?
Foremost, it pays my bills. :) I contribute because I believe in the "Four Essential Freedoms". Since the project is in public eyes, it is easier to get bugs reported and fixed, so, FOSS projects would generally be more secure. So many people collaborating and getting to be a part of something so awesome is encouraging for both parties. We learn a lot more by contributing to FOSS because there is a wider audience/reviewers out there to teach things at many different levels. We are not just restricted to the "review team", everybody who uses/intends to use the software is our review team. FOSS is also a great place to show your skill set and work.
What’s wrong with our education system? What are your suggestions for the young developers and students?
I think that our education system focuses more on theoretical knowledge and almost none on practical applications. A lot of things that I am learning in my career now were taught to me during my undergraduate degree but still, I did not know things when it came to implementation as it is very easy to develop holes in understanding in just theoretical concepts. I would suggest young developers and students to try and learn some practical implementations of the things that are taught to them, ask more questions and go easy on people if they do not know answers. I think the education "system" is made up of both the teachers and students. Nobody knows everything and it is alright. It is OK to make mistakes. It is OK to say "I don't know". If we are able to create such a synergy in the education system, people are going to be much less worried about teaching as well as taking exams. If the pressure is less, who knows how much we are capable of performing. :)
What do you expect from the startups and tech businesses from India, in terms of contributing and giving back to the FOSS community?
From well-funded startups and tech businesses, I expect financial aid and/or code contribution to help the FOSS project grow. They should also be active members of the community and help the project reach out to others by promoting it. I think the only way to move forward by utilizing the benefits of FOSS is to maintain a good relationship and covering their costs of development as much as possible. One way to think about this is that FOSS projects save them loads of money that they would be paying as the cost of usage and maintenance of a proprietary software so I guess some sharing of profits is courteous. :)
What’s your comment on the gender diversity gap we see in FOSS or the general software development community in India?
I think I see it improving for women lately. Indian women are participating and speaking on such huge platforms all around the world showing their capabilities. I would also like to see more non-binary people come forward and work in tech. When we have people from all genders working in the software development community, we are going to advance much faster and grow better as a society. We cannot expect just one or two genders to be fixing the diversity gap and help more people from their respective communities build a better life for themselves.
Know more about Shivani Bharadwaj
A couch potato's promenade, Shivani's blogging site
Learn about Suricata IDS
Learn about Outreachy Program
Read our other interviews
Updated the title of the blog, In conversation with Shivani Bhardwaj,
Contributor of Suricata IDS Developer at Suricata IDS
Works at FOSS United