The next interview in the series comes from somebody who I’ve never really spoken to personally (well…until now), but who I’ve heard a lot of people talking about/referring to. To me, this shows the extraordinary amount of work that he’s put into Ubuntu/Kubuntu. Some of you have probably heard of him for something more recent…which I won’t spoil – so I give you nixternal‘s interview:
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 Rich Johnson, aka nixternal. a/s/l would be 35, male, Chicago, IL, USA. I have a 13 year old daughter. I am some sort of software developer by trade. I have a few degrees, of which only¬† the most minor one is in Computer Science. My other degrees are all business related with an emphasis in management and marketing. For fun, when I am not hacking on Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, or KDE, I like to cycle. I am an aspiring Lance Armstrong, or as my dad calls me, “Blimp Armstrong”. You know, since I am a bit bigger than Lance.
2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
I became interested in computers around 1980, right after we moved to Chicago from southwestern Michigan. I started with all the most common ones that those who are older might remember. TRS-80, Commodore Vic 20 and 64, Apple IIe, 286, 386…you get the point there. I became interested in Linux while in the Navy either at the end of 1993 or the beginning of 1994. It was one of the¬† first Pentium computers, can’t remember the speed really. It was a Packard Bell Multimedia something or other. I got it home and neither the sound or the modem worked. After researching the¬† Internet very slowly, I came across Slackware GNU/Linux. The next day at work I decided to go ahead and download all of the floppy images. From there my love of Linux started and I started¬† contributing any way I could. I would say around 2005 I finally switched over to Kubuntu after hearing all of the hooplah of Ubuntu. I had been a user and contributor to KDE since the beginning almost, so that is why I chose Kubuntu. The community is what drew me in, and finally during the Dapper release I started contributing to the project.
3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?
I have never been a big forums person for one reason or the other, so my contributions there are definitely very very small. In Ubuntu I got involved in 2005. Currently I am a MOTU and Core¬† Developer, with about 95% of my contributions being Kubuntu/KDE packages. I am also a member of the Ubuntu Community Council, MOTU Council, and the America’s Regional Membership¬† board. I am also one of the community leaders in the Ubuntu Documentation Project where myself and Jonathan Jesse run the Kubuntu documentation currently. The great majority of the work I do¬† in the community is pretty much developer oriented, however I also help with community stuff whenever I can. On the community side I founded and still lead to this day the Ubuntu Chicago LoCo¬† Team.
4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
Yes I am a member. Most of my contributions are developer oriented as a part of the MOTU and Core Developer teams.
5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
Kubuntu and Debian are the 2 distros that I use the most. I also have openSUSE, Fedora, Arch, Slackware, Ubuntu, and Edubuntu installed on various machines in my little hacker space. My most¬† favorite application is a tough one. I am a huge fan of Yakuake, Kate, KDevelop, Amarok, Kile, Konqueror, and some others. Least favorite would probably be Firefox or OpenOffice.
6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
Fondest memory from the forums is many. Every problem I have ran across has pretty much been solved with the help of the forums. I am a GNOME dummy, so when breaking my Ubuntu box the¬† forums have been a tremendous help. My fondest memory from Ubuntu is without a doubt participating in the Ubuntu Developer Summit last year. It was awesome finally getting to meet the people I have annoyed for the past 3 or so years. I don’t have a worst memory of the forums at all. My worst in Ubuntu would be helping to convince the switch to KDE 4.0 so darn early. Sorry for that one
7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
When I was taking my computer science college classes I was very successful with getting people to switch. Most of the crowd I associate with in Chicago already use one flavor of Linux or the other. I got my brother to switch, but that wasn’t to hard to do, he had no other choice. Since switching him he does not call or bother me with fixing his computer. Now if only the others would take note, as I am tired of fixing Windows screw ups by them all.
8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
I would definitely love to see the whole “year of the Linux desktop” thing stop. I would love to see less fanboys and more active contributors. I would love to see Linux succeed, don’t get me wrong, but there is still a while to go before then. Those “I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” commercials work here in the US. I think that once Linux gets at least 2% of the desktop market we can start to hope to become number 2 by going after Mac. In Ubuntu, I would love to see the hooplah of bug number one go away. Bug number one is Microsoft, and we haven’t even handled Mac yet. But most of all, I would love to see more contributors. The Linux community is so easy to get involved in, whereas it isn’t as easy to be a part of something as large. I don’t know anyone who is fixing Microsoft or Mac bugs just because they can.
9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
Patience young grasshopper. Windows and Mac have spoiled users, and quite a few new users come to Ubuntu expecting the same exact experience. There are still spots in Linux and Ubuntu that are not on par with Windows or Mac. Having patience and definitely an open mind will make your experience better. Don’t be afraid to break it. Unlike the others, when you break Ubuntu or Linux, you can usually fix it up, and know that the forums and IRC have plenty of people who are willing to help you fix it. Also, if you have a problem when you first start with someone, remember that someone is only one and doesn’t represent the entire community. I hate to say this, but remember that 99.9% of the people who are helping you are volunteers. The reason I hate to say that is because I feel a lot of people use the volunteer excuse as a reason not to do something. Jeesh, I just realized that was more than one, sorry.