It’s with great pleasure that I get to announce my first intervew in the series, is with pleia2. She is involved in a great many projects within the Ubuntu community, though I wouldn’t want to spoil the interview for you all. A short message from Pleia2: “Thank you for taking the time to interview me! And for¬†work conducting these series of interviews.” And now without further ado…
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 Elizabeth Krumbach, I’m elizabeth on the forums and pleia2 on IRC and Twitter. I live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and work as a Debian Sysadmin. In addition to my Ubuntu work, I run the 700+ member strong Philadelphia area Linux Users Group which has 4 chapters, each hosting one meeting per month.
2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
I’ve been interested in computers since the early 90s when my uncle gave an old IBM 8086 to our family. Through high school I’d collect old hardware, much to the chagrin of my mother who wished I’d get out of the house more often. Things really took off in 1998 when we finally got online and I began coding websites and scripting for my IRC client.
I was introduced to Linux by a friend in the summer of 1999, and with the help of my boyfriend began running it full time in the winter of 2001. In the fall of 2001 I switched from Red Hat to Debian, dabbled in Gentoo for about a year, switched back to Debian after tearing my hair out over compile times and discovered Ubuntu in the spring of 2005. I’ve been using Ubuntu and Debian exclusively ever since.
3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?
I became involved in the Ubuntu Community in March of 2006. Having been a casual user for the past year I started my contributions by becoming involved in the Ubuntu Women Project. At the time there were two distinct projects calling themselves this, I sought to join the “IRC and Forums” portion with the new group that was founded and approved by the Community Council and boasted a website, wiki and mailing list.
4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
Yes, I became a member in May 2007. While working with Ubuntu Women I was also doing some work upstream doing packaging in Debian, and began working with the Ubuntu Pennsylvania Team which I’m still heavily involved with. From there my involvement expanded to become involved with the USTeams Project, Ubuntu Classroom and more recently the Ubuntu Community Learning Project and Ubuntu Beginners. Within these projects my focus tends to be related to organization, advocacy and Sysadmin tasks. I’m also a member of the Ubuntu Americas Membership Board.
5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
On my laptops and desktops I tend toward Ubuntu and my servers (firewall, Xen server, VPS) primarily run Debian. We also deploy Debian almost exclusively at work.
My favorite applications are probably vim, irssi and screen.
And least favorite? I am terrible with tagging my mp3s and oggs, so one of my greatest frustrations in recent years is music applications which only catagorize and sort based on said tags. For a long time I was just using mplayer at the command line, I now use audacious, a fantastic replacement for old xmms that doesn’t insist upon tagging!
6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
I only get to pick one good memory? There are a number that spring to mind, but it’s always very exciting and rewarding when a new Ubuntu Member applicant comes before the Americas board with a lot of good testimonials and people in channel supporting them. The board typically has a wiki page, LaunchPad stats and specifics of whatever the potential member has focused on, but having real people there cheering you on, publically thanking you for your work and telling us directly how valued your work is makes a huge difference and is very inspiring.
Ubuntu is full of extraordinary people doing amazing work and being awesome to each other, but there have been some unfortunate sexist incidents over the years which I have to put in my small “worst experiences” pile. I can’t begin to explain how demotivating it is to have you work questioned or belittled simply because of your gender.
7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
This isn’t my focus, but in general reception of Ubuntu has been positive. Last weekend I set up Ubuntu for my boyfriend’s mother, and at work we have a 15-system desktop deployment of Ubuntu for a cargo logistics office (read: non-techies, these are just regular users). Since I work as a sysadmin for a living, I sometimes get calls from friends asking me to help them with their virus-ridden Windows PCs, and when I agree to help it’s under the condition: If I can’t fix your Windows PC without a reinstall, it’s getting Ubuntu installed. For users who primarily just surf the web, use webmail and sometimes edit or read an Office Document this has been very successful.
8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
I’d like to see bug #1 fixed! Ubuntu has really been a shining star on the Linux scene these past few years and has broken down many of the barriers for casual users. Now with virtualization taking off, I am more and more frequently hearing stories like “I was stuck on Windows because of QuickBooks, but now I just run it on Windows in VirtualBox” problem solved! I am hoping that this trend will continue, and that software companies will warm up to Ubuntu and start releasing directly for it rather that having the user be burdended by a virtualized environment to use their product.
9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
Welcome! And if you have questions about anything in Ubuntu, please ask and don’t get discouraged. Whether you’re on the forums, mailing lists, IRC or elsewhere, the Ubuntu community is a great one and eager to help users find the right tools to be successful.