An interview with Vorian

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

Vorian is the last administrator to be interviewed, and while he calls himself a “pseudo-administrator,” the pseudo- label stops there. An active forum member since 2005, Vorian’s participation in Ubuntu’s LoCo Teams means he’s a regular grass-roots promoter of open-source software. He has many other roles — including membership in both Ubuntu and Kubuntu, and is working toward MOTU status as well. Add to that the responsibility of a real-life job and family. …

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

Vorian’s avatarIt all started about 31 years ago. … Just kidding. My real name is Steve, and I am 31. My wife (of 10 years), four kids (8, 6, 4 and 1) and I have lived in Ohio for the last six or seven years. Ohio is a wonderful place; hopefully we can stick around here for a while.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as is my family (and no, I don’t have more than one wife). As for education, I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I work for the largest farm and ranch retailer in the U.S. I think it’s fun to tell people I run a farm store.

My hobby is Ubuntu. :)

Vorian’s desktop

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

In the mid 80′s, my dad brought home something called a Macintosh. I remember spending hours playing with MacPaint. Somewhere in the early 90′s we got an IBM, and with that came Windows.

I was a Windows user until someone suggested I try something called Ubuntu. The first version I tried was Ubuntu 5.04, Hoary Hedgehog. I really liked the challenge of configuring my laptop to work right. The forums were a huge help with my first venture into Linux.

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

I think I joined the forums sometime in May or June of 2005. I was a regular user on the forums. Then in 2006, I started up the LoCo team in Ohio and we asked for a forum (generously hosted by Ubuntu Forums).

This got me a bit more active on the forums. I also got to know a few staffers on IRC (helping them nab trolls and the like), who recommended me as a staffer early last year. Being very involved with the LoCo teams, I offered to help administer the LoCo section of the forums. I hope that I have helped relieve some pressure off the administrators.

So, the short answer to your question as to what my role is, I am a pseudo-administrator. :)

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

I am an Ubuntu and Kubuntu member. My first contributions were in the LoCo arena — starting and quickly getting our LoCo team approved. Our biggest accomplishment last year was pulling off a fantastic showing at the Ohio Linux Fest. I gave my first presentation about Ubuntu, and that was a bit nerve-wracking. You can see the slides I used here (you will need to install ttf-ubuntu-title to see the headers correctly).

Early last year, Aaron Toponce, Christer Edwards and I started a LoCo mentoring team called the US Teams project. Our initial aim was to get a LoCo team in every state in the U.S. Along with that, we also wanted to create a way for teams to pool resources and help struggling teams. The project achieved most of these goals by the end of the year.

Recently, I have been diligently working on becoming a MOTU. I was fortunate enough to get a few packages into Hardy, but I really started late for this cycle. I am really looking forward to Hardy+1 to get a feel for the entire release cycle.

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

I almost exclusively use *ubuntu. I have really fallen in love with Kubuntu. I have tried Foresight, OpenSuSE, PCLinuxOS and Gentoo, but always come back to Ubuntu after a few days. I have been using KDE4 for a few months. Kwin composite doesn’t like my graphics card very well, so I use compiz as the composite manager.

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

My fondest memory of the forums are the times we have theme weeks, like Chuck Norris week, etc. We are currently holding a tribute to Monty Python. :)

My least favorite memory would have to be dealing with an organized trolling organization. These nut jobs started another forum and planned organized attacks on the forums. Seeing as they were so brilliant at bragging about their trolling efforts on their forum, it was easy to clean it up on our end. Luckily they are gone. :)

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

Make sure when you convert someone to Ubuntu, you set ground rules up front. I made the mistake of telling someone I would help them with their issues if they decided to switch. I don’t mind offering help, but it took a while to teach this person where to find answers to their questions.

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

I would like to see Linux become more mainstream. It’s one thing to look for “The year of the Linux Desktop” and actually seeing it in mainstream use. I would love to see my company use an open source OS. We use Linux servers, but sheesh, what company doesn’t want to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on software? :)

As for Ubuntu, I would like to see more of the Dell-type initiatives. I might have a biased opinion, but I think Ubuntu is the best distro for new users, and developers. I have to agree with several people asking for a consolidation of names (i.e., Ubuntu KDE, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu Xfce, etc.). Most of all, I would like to see Ubuntu run for president.

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

Welcome to the wonderful world of Ubuntu. You will be frustrated at times, but there are literally thousands of people willing to help you with your problems. Don’t give up. Ubuntu has a special magic that will make you enjoy using your computer again. Use the forums, figure out how to use IRC (and use it), and don’t be afraid to ask questions :)

For a complete list of Vorian’s contributions and responsibilities in Ubuntu, take a look at his Launchpad and wiki pages. For more interviews with staff and community members, read Nine simple questions.

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