Passing the Baton

This project has been both fun and enjoyable, but my life has become much busier lately than it used to be. Rather than cancel or end the Ubuntu Community Interviews series, I have found someone who is both able and excited to take it over. Just as it was once passed to me, I am now passing the baton to Joe Barker (Joeb454 on the forums), who will do a wonderful job with it in its new home on his blog.

An interview with Travis Newman

If you have been around the Ubuntu Forums for a while, you are certain to have come across a person calling himself panickedthumb. Guess who we are interviewing in this edition of Ubuntu Community Interviews?

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real life” like name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

I’m Travis Newman, 27 years old, living in Radford VA. My wife, Katie, and I have two cats Max and Leo. I’m AVP of IT at a regional bank in the area. In my spare time, which I seem to have little of lately, I’m an avid gamer and internet junkie.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

Ever since I first saw a PC, in first grade, I have been fascinated by them. Unfortunately I didn’t get one until my senior year, in 1998. Back in Sept. ’98 I was having trouble sending email and double-clicking on links. But my lack of knowledge didn’t slow me down. I wanted to know how things worked, what I could and couldn’t do. I ended up using the Compaq restore CD more than I would like to admit, but I learned quite a bit. One thing that I learned was, even though I thought it was all that was available, I hated Windows.  Later that year the network admin at my high school gave me my first Linux CD. Perhaps installing Linux, especially Slackware 3.5, was not the best idea having only *really* used computers for 2 or 3 months, but I did. I was lost. Could never figure out how to start XFree86. But I persisted throughout the years, trying different versions of Red Hat and Mandrake, and many others, and by 2003 I was using Gentoo pretty much full time.  In 2004 I heard about this new distribution (which would become Ubuntu) that was starting up based on Debian, and I decided to give it a shot. My experience with Debian was not a good one, but I had hoped this new distro would help with that. It was still at no-name-yet.com, before being called Ubuntu, but I was hooked. It was very rough around the edges, but I could see the diamond in the rough. Never looked back.

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

I joined the forums October 27th, 2004, less than a month after it started, though I had been lurking for a bit before then. I became a moderator at some point in November, and have been one ever since, with the exception of a few months a couple years ago.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

I am an Ubuntu member. I contribute as a moderator on the forums, and I started and co-admin the Ubuntu LoCo team for Virginia. Come by #ubuntu-us-va on Freenode the first Tuesday of every month at 8 if you want to join in the fun! :)

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

I use Ubuntu, and that’s really about it. I try other distros here and there. I absolutely love what they’re doing with Arch Linux, and I’m interested to see where Moblin goes for netbooks. However, since trying Ubuntu for the first time, nothing else has felt like “home.”  My favorite software is probably Firefox, and I know that’s a bit of a cop-out since it’s so popular, but I don’t even like browsing the web without it anymore. Least favorite software? Adobe Reader. Seriously, a document reader should not be so bloated and finicky.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

I don’t have a single fondest memory from Ubuntu or the forums. It’s a great place and I really feel at home there, so I have many fond memories just being part of the wonderful community and contributing as I can. However, one particularly funny memory, that’s kinda hard to explain, was the :porc::inca::dito::love: mystery. Someone in the #ubuntuforums channel started pasting what appeared to us to be random stuff, like the above. It’s still an inside joke to those who were there. I know it doesn’t sound that funny, but I guess you had to be there :)  Worst memory… well with a forum this size, there are some troublemakers and there are occasionally interpersonal conflicts among staff. I won’t go into any details, but those are rough to go through, and they are ultimately not good for the community. Luckily, much has been done over the years so that we have fewer and fewer problems.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Its a struggle sometimes, because for all its faults, Windows is pretty easy to use. Taking some people out of their comfort zone is like pulling teeth. I have had a few converts over the years, and helped get CD’s to a lot of students at a local community college. However, as I have seen over the years, getting someone to *try* Ubuntu doesn’t mean that they will stick with it. One of the most heart warming things for an Ubuntu user ever, though, was at our LoCo installfest in Galax for 9.04. A middle-aged couple had bought a netbook and hated the default Asus version of Xandros, and came by to get Ubuntu Netbook Remix installed. While that was going, Jim Tarvid (the other co-admin of the group) and I got wireless working on their Ubuntu laptop. People over 40 are frequently the hardest to try to convert, but this couple had basically done it on their own, and just needed a little help.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I think it’s on a good path for the most part. I would of course like to see Bug #1 (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1) taken care of. It seems that every time Microsoft releases something new, we get a lot of new Ubuntu users. I think business as usual is not working as well for Microsoft anymore, and they need to change their game plan if they want to stay on top for the foreseeable future. But ultimately, I’d like to see Ubuntu (or Linux in general) get a 10% market share. I don’t mind if we never get to 50% or even 25% really, I just want enough so that businesses take us seriously and support the platform.  More than just Ubuntu or Linux, however, I would like to see Free software become the standard for software development. I really believe it’s the way of the future, and all of the best software available is Free (as in freedom, of course).

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Don’t give up! I know it’s disheartening at times when you feel like you’re in over your head, but the forums, the mailing list, and the IRC channels are here to help.  Also, get involved! You feel much more a part of the community when you give back. When you become comfortable with Ubuntu, you can help others out. It’s what makes the community work.

An interview with tinivole

We have a musician to interview in this edition of our Ubuntu Community Interviews. Unsurprisingly, tinivole is also a pretty good guy and a wonderful addition to our forum staff. I think you will enjoy this conversation.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life – name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

My real name is Iain Buclaw. I was born in Surrey, 1989, and am currently living in the West Midlands, UK. I have a European bound family with heritage roots from Italy and Poland, to which I’ve picked up enough of the Polish language to survive if I were ever to visit the country. My strengths are in Studio Engineering/Production and IT Support/Analyst roles; I am yet to decide which one to take on as a full-time career. I have vendor IT qualifications in CompTIA A+, Network+; Microsoft Certified DST; and Linux LPIC1. In my spare time I am a hobbyist programmer of the C and Perl languages, and spend whenever I can thrashing out Jazz/Rock on guitars.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

I was a Music Recordist before I was a Computer Enthusiast, ever since the age of 12 using Cool Edit Pro2, and later Adobe Audition to record, track, layer and mix my own songs. That was until one day I had a sudden epiphany which motivated myself to learn programming. Of course, this sort of change didn’t happen over night, but after hours of playing with, and enjoying a software I bought called QuantumFX; which in a nutshell is a 5th Generation Programming IDE for making custom audio VST effect plugins, ranging from simple delays, to complex amp simulators.

At 16, I joined a Music Technology and an A Level Computing course at my local college. The practical elements of Computing were great, despite the course language of choice, VB6. That with added theory work in networking, programming paradigms and operating systems led me to stumble upon debian.org for the first time in my life, although it was to take another year before I initially installed my first Debian system. In the meantime, however, the course eventually because monotonous, so I ended up dropping out later during the second year, but continued on to get a BTEC Diploma in Music Technology.

By the time I had switch completely 100% Debian, Ubuntu Hardy Alpha1 was released, which just so happened to be the first time Ubuntu worked completely out of the box on my desktop system. The rest is history.

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

Almost immediately as I had installed Hardy Alpha1. Initially, I had a few questions to ask here and there about the operating system, and in the time waiting for replies, idolised by reading other support threads, occasionally answering to some of them. Over time as the number of solved posts increased, so did my enthusiasm to help/teach people.

After about 5 months of answering support threads, and some bumps into forum conversation with vor (aka sdennie) later, I received a private message from Joeb inviting me to join the Beginners Team. Since joining, I have seen the team grow and evolve from around a dozen active members to what now must be 40-50 active members. I now give support on both IRC and Forums, and have gotten involved in the Beginners-Dev and IRC Focus Groups within the BT team. Also, I would have been a key player in the Stalkers FG too, if such a FG existed, which it doesn’t.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

I’m not currently a member, but I suppose, like many, it is something that I would like to apply for in the interim future. I haven’t really gotten involved in any LoCo group yet due to geographic constraints, but it’s something that may begin to happen as I relocate to better suited areas of Britain.

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favourite application? Your least favourite?

I run Debian 5.0 and Ubuntu 9.04, both installed from a Net boot disk, both of which are running 2.6.29 kernels with patches for real-time computing. Something I’ve slowly been adding to is to make a small recording studio setup in Linux without the bloat that other Studio distributions seem to be included with.

My favourite programs are vim and perl, if I were to naturally follow in the path of sdennie. I also have a liking to my own adapted version of an old abandoned pseudo C interpreter. kvm is another one for the good books, especially when used as a machine to test fixes/solutions before posting them. And ardour is a another brilliant application that deserves merit too. I don’t generally have a least favourite.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

Every time sdennie kicks me from a channel would be my fondest moment, more-so now as I can kick him back. Compiledkernel is another fond memory too, I always enjoy it when he is around IRC talking to new users. I can’t think of any notable things that happened on the forums, although nowadays I find myself digging up more and more old threads I posted solutions in. Be that a good thing or bad thing.

The first week of being a moderator on the forums and all the anxiousness that came with it was perhaps one of the worst weeks. There is a lot to take in, and quite steep amount of adjusting to do. The first time I confused Edit and Quote was a notable experience to elevate that, although perhaps quite humorous now I look back on it. My time on the forums since has only gotten better as my confidence grows in making important decisions, I now have a deep respect for the staff, and understand their sometimes undervalued role.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Haven’t really introduced Ubuntu to any new users as of yet, although I’ve had plenty of conversations with people who are either aware of Ubuntu, own a CD, or have tried it out in a VM, but haven’t yet taken the leap onto trying it out on a real partition yet. Have even had an interview where the interviewer was an Ubuntu user, which was fun. Since joining the BT and Forum staff, I have always included my voluntary work on my CV, and interviewers always pick it out first. I feel it is important for them to understand just what it takes to be in such a role.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

Further adoption and growth. Perhaps not on the Desktop for the time being, but in every other nook and corner of the Computer world.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Although we have collaborative works such as Ubuntu nowadays, it is always important to consider your own learning ability before trying out a new operating system. The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell is one such book I’d recommend to people looking to optimise their own learning abilities, as it has, at the very least, played a vital part in my education.

An interview with Codename

Codename has given us the latest installment in our Ubuntu Community Interviews series. He’s a young guy, polite, friendly, and helpful. He also provides us with an example of thankfulness and service, choosing to help others in the community after recognizing the help he received. Thanks, Mike!

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

Well to start things off my name is Mike, and I’m 18. I’ve always been kind of a computer guy, the family calls me “The Computer Whiz Kid”. I was around computers as a kid so I’ve always kind of liked them and hence the reason I’ve became very fluent on the Ubuntu Forums. I really don’t have a job, but I’m working on becoming a Network administrator soon, so I’m really excited, and I want to fulfill that goal.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

I became interested in computers at a very young age, I’d probably say when I was 5. The first OS I ever used was probably Windows 3.1 and as a little kid I knew how to run simple commands and go to directories to launch my favorite games, but as time moved on I kept on using Windows until XP came out. The OS wasn’t working out for my needs, so I decided to seek an alternative in 2005 and this is where Linux comes in. I looked at a couple of distributions before looking at Ubuntu. My first distribution I used was Gentoo, I used Gentoo for a little bit and loved it, but I was hearing a lot about “Ubuntu” so I decided to give it a shot. The first thing I loved about it was the interface and the simplicity, so I obviously installed Ubuntu and I loved it, and became my primary OS of choice. At the time I couldn’t believe how easy it was to set everything up and it was an absolutley amazing feeling using an OS that worked almost perfectly for me and fitted my needs.

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

I actually didn’t become involved in the forums until May 2007 I think, I had some video card issues and some very talented people helped me out and since then I just thought I should return the favor that people did for me, which was help others in need. I think my role now at the Ubuntu Forums is network support and general support. When I help someone and that person says “Thanks Codename” there’s no better feeling, for me anyways, because I know now that the problem is obviously solved and they now enjoy Ubuntu without having that issue.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

Sadly I’m not an Ubuntu member, I do plan on becoming one soon.

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

The distributions I regularly use are probably Sabayon and Ubuntu. I think those two distributions of Linux are really innovative, both have great features and of course very simple. I honestly use a lot of software, but if I had to pick some favorites I’d probably say Pidgin, VLC and Eclipse. I think those programs work flawlessly. Honestly I don’t have a least favorite application. The applications I use I love.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

My fondest memories of the forums would probably have to be helping people, and receiving satisfaction of helping others that need the help, and when when I see great collaboration going on in the forums, there’s nothing like it. My fondest memory of Ubuntu actually is probably when I got my wireless and video card working! Even though that’s not much, that’s really the only problems I’ve had with Ubuntu, and when I got two things to work, everything worked perfectly. My worst memory with Ubuntu is getting frustrated at the issues I’m having, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from using Linux is patience is the key, and once you have patience you can probably fix any issue you have.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

I’ve actually had great luck. I now have at least 3-4 people that I personally know switch to Ubuntu because I’ve stated the advantages of Ubuntu and why they might like the OS. I tell them remember “Linux is not Windows” and if you have any trouble, let me know and usually I don’t hear back from them because everything just works for them, which is an awesome feeling.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I’d definitely like to see Linux in general expand on to the desktop market, which we have kind of seen today. I mean Dell offers computers pre-installed with Ubuntu which is great. I also love the fact that Asus has the option you can buy a Eee PC with Linux pre-installed, I think that’s a step forward. I wish for Ubuntu and Linux in general the best.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Remember new users, research the forums and have patience, and believe me it will pay off sooner or later. The forums are also a great place to learn and expand your Linux knowledge, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you have researched your question and nothing comes up, then by all means please ask the quetsion and I’m sure one of the talented people on the forums can help you! Just hang in there.

An interview with Rocket2DMn

Today we have the opportunity to hear from one of our staff members in the Ubuntu Forums, Rocket2DMn, in the latest installment in our Ubuntu Community Interviews series. Rocket2DMn first came to our attention as a result of his help answering questions in the forums. It wasn’t long before he became a member of our Beginner’s Team, which is focused on helping newcomers to the world of Ubuntu and Linux in the forums. He’s a great guy, a patient helper, and a wonderful asset to our community.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

My name is Connor Imes, I’m currently 22 and live outside of Philadelphia, though I am originally from California.  I’m a software & systems engineer by trade, but also enjoy other activities like running, skiing, mountain biking, and watching movies.  I hope to travel around the world for my job, meeting new people and experiencing new things.  I am also the only member of my immediate family to not choose a career in medicine, and the only one to not serve in the US Navy.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

I’ve been using computers most of my life, starting with DOS and Windows 3.1.  My passion for computers began with playing games, then progressed to building and tweaking systems, and ultimately to programming and using Linux.  My first experience with *nix came in 2004 at my university where we used Sun Solaris.  My first Linux experience came in 2006 from putting Fedora Core 5 on a game server that I hosted with my roommate all through college.  I started dual booting my laptop with Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn in May 2007, once a stable ntfs-3g driver was available so that I could share data between the dual boot setup.

I did my first programming when I was in 6th grade, a buddy of mine started learning, so I got a pack of Visual Basic CDs with some books, and went to work!  It also lead me into constructing a few basic websites along the way.

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

I started on the Ubuntu Forums right when I first started using Ubuntu, and have been a regular from day 1.  I joined the Unanswered Posts Team and Beginners Team at the beginning of 2008 and have been heavily involved since then, esp. with the BT.  I sit on the BT Council and head up the Wiki Focus Group which works with the Ubuntu Documentation Team.  In July of 2008, I was invited to become part of the Ubuntu Forums staff.  I considered declining the offer, but felt I could contribute positively to the community in that role, as well as build some good relationships in the Ubuntu community.  I accepted, and am certain that both predictions have proven to be true!

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

Yes, I was approved for membership in early 2009 by the Americas regional board. I was going to apply during the summer of 2008 with a handful of other Beginners Team members, but delayed my application.  I saw a lot of members come to the BT, and many were interested in becoming Ubuntu members – I just wanted to show that you could be a strong and dedicated contributor without being an Ubuntu member.  I’ve never really been a fan of titles and badges because I hate to see them distract from what is really important, which is having fun and making a positive impact.

My contributions are mostly on the forums, launchpad bugs, development release testing, and to the documentation team.  I’m looking to contribute to official system documentation and to triaging (and troubleshooting) some of the common but tough bugs – kernel, X, and wireless problems!

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

Ubuntu is my primary distribution all around, I use it on my laptop (I’ve ditched the dual boot there), and I dual boot between Vista and Ubuntu on my desktop.  Nowadays, Vista is only really kept around for gaming some weekends, and any specific functions I might need it for in the future.  In the past few years, I have spent time with (in no particular order): Ubuntu, Fedora Core, Mandriva, Puppy Linux, Gentoo, Red Hat, CentOS, and OpenSolaris (not Linux!).

My favorite applications would have to be the ones I use every day – Firefox, Pidgin, Xchat, Amarok, VirtualBox, Thunderbird, the conky.  I don’t think I have a least favorite application.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

The forums can sometimes be a bit of a roller coaster, it is tough to decide a best and worst, but I’ll try.

The FOSS community can often be very vocal, and despite our best efforts, sometimes a little rude.  This became very apparent in summer 2008, shortly after I became a moderator on the forums, when a user posted about Foxconn supposedly sabotaging their BIOS to intentionally not work with Linux.  This was, of course, bogus, but it hit Digg, Slashdot, Reddit, blogs and other sites all over the world and created quite a mess.  When I jumped into the fray almost 12 hours after it started, I found people bashing Foxconn left and right, and in all the chaos, nobody had even bothered to attempt triage on the Launchpad bug.  I did it myself, and followed the case all the way through to the end.  Since all the forum threads ended up getting closed as flame bait, I wound up keeping the community up to date with developments, and was ultimately in contact with a Foxconn representative.  By the time it was all over, the original poster was banned from the forums, Foxconn worked with the poster to test new BIOSes, a fix was released, I was relaying information, and the community was singing Foxconn’s praises for taking us seriously.

I think it was the worst and best of my experiences on the Ubuntu Forums to date.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Since it’s a rare occasion that I run across new computer users, I haven’t had much success in this department.  I have shown off Ubuntu to a number of people, and introduced some of them to the great world of Linux and FOSS for the first time.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I would like to see Linux become more available in off-the-shelf computer systems for home users, and for the general user population to know about Linux as a viable alternative.  I also have very high expectations for Linux overseas, esp. in developing countries.  However, I hope that neither Linux nor Ubuntu become victims of their own success.  To clarify that statement, I would love for everybody to know about and have the ability to use Ubuntu (or another flavor of Linux), but I don’t want either to lose aspects that make them so great or gain baggage that will spoil their appeal.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

If you are thinking of switching, I would highly suggest using some FOSS in your current setup before you make the switch.  Get comfortable with programs like Firefox, Pidgin, OpenOffice.org, and VLC – these will ease your transition so that when you get here, everything won’t be totally foreign.

After you install, you are very likely to sit face to face with the system and have a moment of “OH MAH GAWD what was I thinking?!”  Breathe.  Remember that the Ubuntu Forums are always just a few clicks away, with knowledgeable users ready and willing to help you out!

An interview with Michael.Godawski

Michael.Godawski is a great example of what makes the Ubuntu Forums so special. This is why I chose him for the next installment in our Ubuntu Community Interviews series. Michael started in the forums and in the Ubuntu community as a Linux novice and has progressed to being a consistently helpful contributing member, assisting new users with their problems and being a positive example of kindness and gentleness, combined with competence. It is people like Michael who make the overall Ubuntu community so welcoming to newcomers. He also is a great representation of the international nature of our forums and our overall Ubuntu community.

  1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real life” like name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.
    My name is Michael Godawski, at the moment I am 23 years young. I was born in the beautiful Cracow in Poland. Today I live in Düsseldorf, Germany studying history of art and sociology. Not the typical studies for a “geeky” Linux user you say. And you are right.I am everything but a computer zealot. For me they are just machines, dead boxes full of weird stuff in it like cables, microchips, and who knows what…

    But you can do fantastic things with them. And you meet wonderful people with the help of them. Suddenly you are talking to people from the other hemisphere which is a great thing. They (the computers) become an inextricable part of our daily life so it stands to reason to get to know each other better. Nothing more but nothing less.

    What can I tell you more? I do some Aikido when I am not playing piano; when I am not on the mat, nor at the piano I visit the website you might know from hearsay – ubuntuforums.org.

    I like to read. I hate to read from digital displays.

    I like to travel, as far as my pathetic income of a student allows me to.

    I like to compose new music pieces. I hate superficial people.

    I like writing. I also like to throw my writings into the trash and don’t fuss about it.

  2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
    The first contact with “computers” was an ancient Atari 2600. I remember playing some really cool “games” on it like a flight-simulation, during which you had to destroy the adversarial plane – a simple moving dot. T’was cool, your imagination power was really tested to the maximum.After the Atari the big blur begins: blue dos screen was omnipresent for a long time. Then an ultra-fast Pentium 75 entered my life and with it Windows 3.11. Then came a Super Nintendo: again classics like Zelda, Secret of Mana, of Evermore, R-Type, Pilotwings enter my mind….

    Where is Linux you ask? Well, my first Linux experience was an epic fail. I installed Red Hat something on my PC and literally nothing has worked. Perhaps I was too young or the machine was too dumb, I don’t know, it was not the right time I guess.

    So I sticked with Mr.Gates for a while. And who knows if I had ever changed to Ubuntu if Windows would fulfill all my needs… But stop… I am strongly against bashing an OS as the inferior one. That’s a moot point. Every single OS has it right to exist and should act as an inspiration to make things better than they already are.

    So Windows was not a product of the Satan for me, you could play nice games on it and so on… but something was missing.

    And that something I think I have found in Ubuntu. Don’t ask me to specify this something. I guess it is not the juxtaposition but the blending of the digital with the natural, the tradition with the future, the machines with the people. Whoa we are getting far to philosophic here…

  3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?
    I joined the ubuntuforums.org during a star-spangled night in 2007. Forgot the month.
    My nick was janquark.

    Then came a break. Real life took over. Taught me some things.

    Comeback to the forums with my real name somewhere in 2008.

    My role on the forums? I help where I can. Be it as a member of the Beginners Team and Unanswered Team or like writing guides and tutorials on my website –

    I have no specific role. And I do not want to be put into one category.

  4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
    Yes, I am. Just recently approved.
  5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
    Favorite distribution? You bet it’s Ubuntu. Favorite software? Bluefish, VLC, Rhytmbox, OO, FF3, Gimp, gFTP, Transmission, sun xVM Virtual Box, pretty un-exotic list… but it works for me. Perhaps I will test some distribution in the future who knows, I do not feel like jumping to others now.
  6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
    Let me say this. Honestly… if the time I spend on the forums be it as a helper, be it as the one with the question, would only slightly be somewhat an awkward, displeasing and annoying experience I would quit immediately. But it is not. Every time I log in I have fun. Sometimes the breaks between the logins are shorter sometimes they are longer. But I cannot point out a specific time when I felt especially happy or especially annoyed. It is rather a constant feeling of having a good time…
  7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
    “Oh… wow.. what is that? Is this Linux? Windows was not good enough for you he?”“I want to have this 3D Desktop too? But will it be difficult and complicated?”

    “You are using the console? Man…DOS – times are the past.”

    “You are on Linux? Well, yes then you don’t have that much trouble as I have on my §$%& Windows PC.”

    Only a sample of real-life quotations. I did not have many success stories of converting PC users to Ubuntu. But I could destroy some of the old prejudices and clichés. I especially like when people do not notice what OS I am using but what results I present them with it.

  8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
    I want Ubuntu to become a truly worth-mentioning alternative for the average computer user. I especially stress the average in the sentence above.
  9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
    As my ubuntuforums.org title already says: It is only a machine.It is much more important to spend some time with your family, playing an instrument, doing some sport, traveling the world, reading a book, writing, painting, or just going out with your friends, than staring at a square display of a computer.

    In this spirit I hope I have not bored you to death and you know me a little better than before.

    Michael Godawski

An interview with PartyBoi2

It has been a little while since we last had an installment of our interview series. With the new year fully begun and things moving back into a regular schedule, I think it is time we continue the introductions.

Today we get to hear from Karl, known in the forums as PartyBoi2. In the last two years, he has racked up over 3000 posts and helped tons of new users, attempting to focus on posts that have gone entirely unanswered as well as helping beginners with their adaptation issues.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real life” like name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

Hi everyone, my  name is Karl and I’m a 34 male who in 2000 decided to leave my family and friends looking for greener pastures so to speak and migrated to Melbourne Australia from New Zealand. I have had a interesting last 8 years in Melbourne where I worked in the hospitality industry and unfortunately made a few wrong choices and ended up with drug and alcohol addictions which nearly cost me my life. In 2006 I quit my job due to my deteriorated health and put my trust and faith back in  Jesus and saw amazing things happen including freedom from the drugs and alcohol.

I don’t have any title or letters before my name and have had an average education and probably see myself as the ‘run of the mill’ type of guy who has learned most things by trial and error and experience. Currently I am doing some study and are hoping to start a new career in the IT industry as a Technician, with the possibility of starting a small computer business with some friends geared towards assisting underprivileged people.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

When I was younger I use to  play the odd game on my friends Amiga computers but was a bit of a late bloomer I would say, as I did not take a real interest in them till a few years ago, even though I  got my first computer running win 98 around 1998.

In 2007 I was looking for an alternative to windows, as windows was out of my price range at the time and I needed a operating system so I could communicate with my family back in New Zealand. I had heard about linux many moons ago and thought that since I had plenty of spare time I would teach myself Linux. I had a look at a couple of different flavors of Linux but was unsuccessful at installing them, probably due to the fact I was a newbie and did not know what I was doing. Most of my searching for a Linux flavor came from searching www.linux.org  and since I had been unsuccessful up to that point of being able to install any I started to check out the forums and support for each Linux distribution that interested me and found that Ubuntu had a large active forum with plenty of Documentation. So I took the plunge and successfully installed my first Linux operating system which was Dapper 6.06 and launched myself into learning about the Ubuntu operating system.

As my interest in Ubuntu grew so did my interest in computers in general and before I knew it I had friends calling on me to fix their computers when ever things went wrong, which was a wonderful learning experience for me and encouraged me to learn more.

3. When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?

I started using  the Ubuntu forums in about June 2007 even though I had signed up with the Ubuntu Forums in January of that year. At first I mostly read different threads in the Absolute Beginners section reading and learning about the different types of problems people were having then finally one day dived in and started replying to some of the posts.

I think my role really is just being part of the Ubuntu forum community like so many others and doing what we enjoy which is assisting others and helping out where we can. Generally I reply to posts that have not been answered and would  say that “Installation and Upgrades” is where I post the most and enjoy helping out the newbies.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

No, I currently am not a member, its not something that I have really thought to much about to be honest, but maybe down the track once I have contributed more it maybe something that I would consider.

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

Ubuntu is my number one distro at the moment , I have installed a few others like dsl and gentoo using virtualbox but have not really spent much time using them. Might look at other distros more once I get a bigger hard drive.

My favorite application would probably have to be deluge p2p program. I don’t think I have a least favorite applications but if I had to choose one, Evolution would probably be the closest as I have always preferred Thunderbird and never really got accustomed to it.
The main software that I use is the gnome-terminal, Thunderbird, Xchat Vlc, Nano and Firefox.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

My fondest memories have been when I have helped people get the answer to their question, and knowing the relief they feel when they can finally stop banging their head against the wall. Some of the other fondest memories would be the different types of people I have encountered on the forums and the eagerness they have to help others out. I don’t have any worst memories really the closest I would say would be when I replied to a thread and another poster told the original poster to ignore what I had posted and do it their way. As I have said I have not really had any bad experiences and generally I have a very good impression of the forums and the active members.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

For awhile I did some voluntary work refurbishing computers for the underprivileged which also became a good opportunity to promote Ubuntu, when I first started they were sending out computers with windows on only, after awhile I started installing Xubuntu on a lot of the computers and they also started getting sent out and I was able to inform the people I work with more about Ubuntu as well as giving out a few Ubuntu disks.
Not long ago there was  someone who stumbled into ##beginners-help on network irc.freenode.net who was trying to connect to another server who had never heard of Ubuntu, after talking with them they downloaded and tried Ubuntu, so I guess I have had some success at introducing people to Ubuntu and I am sure there will be plenty more opportunity’s  to promote Ubuntu.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I would like to see people’s awareness increased about Linux and Ubuntu and see more computers sold with the option to have Ubuntu come already installed.
Also to see some of the things that hold back Linux improved like games and drivers etc.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Breathe, don’t stress, it takes time to learn a new operating system. The forums are a great place to get help and remember that no question is stupid and that everyone was a newbie at some stage.

There is also the ubuntu wiki pages that can be helpful as well as irc ##beginners-help on network irc.freenode.net or #ubuntu on network irc.freenode.net

An interview with vor

Shawn Dennie, known as vor on the Ubuntu Forums, is one of our moderating staff. He is a programmer with a long technical history and being hired at 18 years old did wonders for his already-strong geek credibility. He is a world traveler, and an all-around interesting and good guy, and the subject of our latest in the community interview series.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life – name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

My name is Shaun Dennie, I’m inching closer to 30 every day and can generally be found in Buenos Aires, Argentina (though, sometimes in Denver, Colorado or London, England).  I’m a self-proclaimed Techno-Hippie Semi-Buddhist and so don’t own anything that I can’t fit in my backpack.

I began attending (and almost graduated from) the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at the age of 16 and was hired by Sun Microsystems at the age of 18 to work in their High Performance Libraries and Tools Group. Over the last 10 years I’ve worked various other software engineering jobs but, have spent a lot of time travelling in Europe, South America and Asia.

Over the last few years I’ve been moving away from writing proprietary software and now work in a hostel while dedicating most of my time to helping people with Ubuntu.  My hobbies include Ubuntu, going to watch my fúbol team (Club Atletico San Lorenzo de Almagro), relaxing with my friends and pretending to be a bartender at my favorite bar in Argentina (The Spot).

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

Like many people my age, I got interested in computers after watching movies like War Games and Weird Science.  My mother is an author so we had an 8086 machine fairly early (2 5.25 floppies and no hard drive). I learned how to use it and then one day a friend told me about this cool thing called a “BBS”.  I got a modem for Christmas and then figured out how to do ASCII art in exchange for membership for the for-pay BBSs because at the age of 12, I had no income to pay for them.

I started programming at 13 when a friend said, “It would be great to have the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Compendium on the computer and have it auto-generate loot”.  I figured out how to do just such a thing using GW-BASIC and then sold it to my friends for US$10 a copy and thus began my software engineering career.  Before starting at Sun, this career would also consist of taking bribes to ensure proper matches in a match-making program I wrote for a high-school Valentines Day fundraiser and writing a full casino software suite for the TI-85 calculator (and selling it for US$15 an install).

I got interested in Linux in 1997 when I built my first computer and, following in True Nerd Tradition, installed a copy of Slackware that I got out of the back of a Unix book.  I went on to learn more about Unix at Sun and found Ubuntu in 2005 when I wanted a Linux distro that worked on my new laptop without much hassle (and Ubuntu did!).

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

I started reading the forums in 2005 but I’d always been a lurker. I got brave one day in 2007 and started answering questions.  I enjoyed it and so just kept doing it.  I eventually joined the beginners team and was later invited to become a moderator for the forums.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

I’m not currently an Ubuntu member, no. I plan to apply in the near future but, until recently my contributions have only been via the forums and I wanted to get involved more with the community here in Buenos Aires before applying.

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

I only run Ubuntu 8.04 on my laptop.  I have virtual machines setup for many popular distros and even Windows but, I run Ubuntu as the primary OS.

My favorite tools are vim and perl.  I once wrote a full featured mp3 player in vim (using mpg123) and generally get confused when using something that doesn’t have vi key bindings.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

Every time I’m able to help someone on the forums, I enjoy it.

My worst memory (though, now it’s funny to me) is when I hesitantly joined the IRC channel #ubuntu-meeting before a membership meeting to see how some friends did and the first thing I saw was, ” * vorian peers at vor-ubuntu”.  Since then, vorian has been peering/scowling/growling at me on a regular basis but, I find it less disconcerting now.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Most of my friends and family use Ubuntu now.  The key seems to be configuring it properly for them and then teaching them a few basic things.  The ones that are computer savvy to begin with quickly take the initiative to become Ubuntu experts and the ones who didn’t know much about computers in the first place have a very low barrier to entry and so quickly acclimate themselves to the new OS and sometimes even get excited about how easy it is to use.

I’m always surprised at how easily people figure out how to use Ubuntu. My mother knows nothing about computers but, she showed *me* how to sync an ipod on Ubuntu.  I installed Ubuntu on my fathers laptop and 10 minutes later he’d downloaded some games from the repos and was thoroughly enjoying himself.  I think when you give someone a non-mainstream OS, it challenges them prove their intelligence and they go out of their way figure out how things work.  I always find it funny when non-technical people say, “Well, I just use Ubuntu.” in sort of a bragging way.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I’d like to see launchpad bug #1 fixed.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

“Don’t Panic.”

The forums are a very friendly place and, if google isn’t giving you the answer you need, the forums probably will.

An interview with Nicolas Valcárcel

Today’s interviewee volunteered to participate in the Ubuntu Community Interviews series some time ago. He is involved in some of the more technical aspects of the community, helping maintain and place packages in the repositories, working to keep Ubuntu up to date with security, and lots more. Enjoy!

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life – name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

I’m Nicolas Valcárcel Scerpella. I am a 24 years old male Peruvian student living in Lima – Perú with my parents, 2 sisters and a rotweiler. I’m coursing the 7th-8th period of systems engineering at the University “de lima”, working as Security Engineer in the OEM Solutions Group for Canonical. Before that i was Senior consultant in Aureal Systems, doing mainly sysadmin work on the client’s server (primary in Linux, but here was some other *nix like ones). I love adventure sports and outsides, i used to surf, skate and also played rugby at the university. While i was still at school i also used to row at the “Club de Regatas Lima” from 1998 until 2001.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu? In computers?

Since i remember. When i was really young (4 years or so) my mother used to bring me to her work and sit me on a computer to play games all day long, i can’t remember any time of my life without a computer (well, only when i travel to outsides). With Linux i started late, in summer 2004 IIRC when read about this “OS for hackers” while i
was on the underground world of internet :P, then i tested a lot of distros until i found debian, after using it for a while Warty Warthog showed and i started using Ubuntu since then.

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

I’m not involved in the forums, but i started involving myself in the Ubuntu community on May 2007 when i sent my first patch ). Then it was a non stop road, slow at the beginning, until now that i’m a MOTU. Also i am part of the Peruvian LoCo team council, where we do a lot of advocacy. Now i’m focusing myself on bringing more people to the packaging world.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

Yes i am! I contribute in the Server Team primarily.

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite? Distros?

Now only ubuntu, but on my previous work i use CentOS on servers for the clients due a company policy which i couldn’t change. For software i mostly use Firefox as a web browser, Evolution as mail client, Terminator as terminal emulator, Pidgin as msn messenger, Empathy as jabber client, python as programming language and a LOT of console tools.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

Well that would be my lovely mentors and sponsors. I have so much to thank them. When i give a talk i always remark how wonderful developers the ubuntu community have and how norsetto, persia and ScottK help me at
the very beginning. Also some people i admire (and always talk about them) are TheMuso and heno, who having real problems are so good at what they do, it’s just amazing, i really admire them. The worst? I don’t have any bad moment in mind (i haven’t had one or i have just forget them).

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Really good, with the LoCo team we do a lot of advocacy and we have a lot of happy new ubuntu users.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I really want to see more companies stop seeing linux as a hippies thing (or insignificant OS). I want to see more Hw manufacturers writing drivers for Linux, and more software being developed for it (as in propietary software migrating to linux [To think on them open his source is just craziness]).

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Don’t quit, there is a wonderful world of amazing people and communities working behind the scenes for you to have this amazing product on hands. It’s hard at the beginning but really wonderful once you catch it.

An interview with Nathan Grubb

In this series, we have had the privilege of including a number of adults. In today’s installment, we are highlighting one of our younger forum members. Nathan Grubb (forum username: nathangrubb) is also a comparatively new Linux user, having joined the fun just over a year ago. He has a blog that you are invited to check out, and included a couple of screenshots with his interview, in which you will discover he uses wmii, which I have inserted below.

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life – name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

Well, to start out – my name is Nathan Grubb, I am a 15 year old male residing in eastern Washington state (Chewelah, Washington to be specific). I live with my 2 parents and I have 1 sibling. I am a freshman in high school, some of my hobbies include Linux, computers, reading, writing, and badminton.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

I’ve been interested in computers since I was about 7, though back then it was mostly in gaming. My mother used to repair computers, which is likely the reason I became interested (and fluent) in them. I first became intrigued by Linux around July 20th, 2007. It was nice that I could check my email without worry of malware. The first Linux distribution I used was Damn Small Linux, Originally I wanted to download Ubuntu, but I was turned off by the 700 MB download size, which was quite a pain on 256 KiB/s ADSL.

Yeah, it’s blank.

3. When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?

I joined the Ubuntu Forums on August 4th, 2007. At first I was primarily asking support questions, though I was quite interested in the cafe and cafe games for a couple of months. I haven’t given as much Linux support as some members on the forums. Though, if you want to count it as support, I help out at forum feedback and help.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

I am not currently a Ubuntu member, and I do not have an interest in pursuing membership unless others urge me to. I do not believe I have contributed anything significant to Ubuntu.

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

As of now my distro of choice is Ubuntu. I’d be using Arch if I wasn’t having problems with Kernel panics and segfaults. I use 4 applications on a regular basis: Opera, Konversation, Gajim, and Pidgin. Of the 4, I have to say my favourite is Opera. My least favourite application would have to be gnome-terminal or Evolution. I’ve never actually gotten into using Evolution and have no use for it. I find Gnome-terminal to be slow.

With some apps open.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

I’d have to say my fondest memory from the forums is the “Finish the story thread” in Cafe games. It is what originally convinced me to stay for the long hall, and I met some of my best (internet) friends through that thread. I’d have to say my worst memory from Ubuntu Forums happened when I narrowly avoided an infraction, though that was within my first month of membership, I believe.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Besides introducing my younger sister to Ubuntu – none, really. I’ve been asked about it twice before, though each time I failed to introduce it onto said person’s desktop. I don’t feel a need to introduce others, though, unless they ask. I’d be a hypocrite if I started imposing on people.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

It’d be great if more manufacters made Linux drivers and/or supported Linux. Though I doubt it will happen, I’d approve if Ubuntu changed their release cycle to once every 8 months – it’d give 2 more months of bug testing, stability excersise, etc.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Linux is not all it’s cut out to be. If you can locate a Local LUG (Linux Users group), please do. Linux is much more pleasant to use for beginners when it is pre-setup for them by experts, as is Windows.