Another Swiss Ubuntu user steps forward with this week’s interview. hyper_ch has a personal background similar to many other community members interviewed thus far — multilingual, international experiences, lots of years with computers and plenty of frustrations at Windows. A synopsis like this doesn’t do justice to the person though; hyper_ch does a much better job introducing himself. …
Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.
Well, my real name is Stephan and next month I’m turning 30. At the moment I’m single and most of the time I’m working in small law firm or am preparing myself for my upcoming bar examination.
To my background, I was born an raised in Switzerland except for an exchange year in Australia at the age of 17/18. Before entering university I had to do mandatory military service for 15 weeks (and an additional 3 weeks every year thereafter). At university I first started with business and economics but then started all over again with law.
I like travel and the exchange year in Australia made it possible for me to visit old friends almost all over the world. My next travel plans are Milan, Paris, Prague, Moscow and Hong Kong – meeting old friends again. Well, of course not all in one trip. ;)
When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
Well, I became interested in computers during my first year of Gymnasium (I think the correct English term would be “grammar school”) in 1992. My mom (parents divorced) organized an old computer, I think it was 12 Mhz, 512kb ram, two 5¼ floppy drives, no harddisk and a black/green monitor. I loved to play Port of Call on there and of course used it for text writing for school.
The next computer was then a 80486 DX2 66Mhz, 4MB ram, with a 3½ floppy drive, a 240 MB hard disk and an SVGA monitor. The two games I loved on there was first X-Wing and then TIE-Fighter. This was also the first computer that I actually upgraded. I bought an additional ram block to enhance the memory to 12Mb … that was really a lot back then. After that I continued upgrade computer slowly.
The first time I got “introduced” was when a friend of school spoke of Linux. I had no clue then what it was. He just said it was fun to mess with. Well, that was about it and that was back in ’97 (I know it was after my year in Australia).
The first time I actually used a Linux based system was with my first web host. They allowed shell accounts for their customers. I had no clue what I did and I received a lot of help on their support forums. That was back in ’99.
After that I didn’t do much with Linux until I started renting first server in 2004. It was a Debian-based system and I started to love it. In the beginning I had to have it reinstalled a few times but I haven’t had any major incidents since 2005.
Only a few weeks ago I changed to a new hosting company because their offer has become a lot better meanwhile (I have to admit that the server there is in almost every aspect a lot better than the computer I have at home now). I also tried Debian Sarge as desktop, started with dual booting but I was booting most of the time into Windows. I wasn’t really using Debian. However as a server OS I just loved it.
Then in June 2006 I stumbled across Dapper Drake and thought, why not try it again? I was just fed up with Windows and I needed a reinstall of it anyway. So I thought I might just go cold turkey for a week and really try to use Linux. Well, now I’m sort of stuck here. :)
When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?
Well, not having really used Linux as a desktop I had a lot of questions… I don’t know exactly how I stumbled across Ubuntu Forums but I guess I just Googled and found a lot of answers listed in Google originating from Ubuntu Forums.
It also took also a while until I made my first postings there. There is so much knowledge on Ubuntu Forums that I didn’t have to ask so many things – but to search the forums to get an answer. I sort of just came back time and again and as I used Linux longer at some stage I also started to help others. A lot of the questions there are recurring and have been answered countless times before – however you are mostly treated in a very friendly manner.
On this note I have to add that I vary also sometimes in my answers. Sometimes I’m helpful and giving direct answers and sometimes I think doing a little more research by the TO will get him/her an answer very quickly. I have to say in terms of support I’m not always as friendly as the staff.
My role on the forums? Hmmm, I’m just a normal forum member (meanwhile also an “old” one) with a post count of “hidden” and a custom title. However on some issues and stuff I do voice my opinions no matter what. I guess you’ve seen a few threads on that. ;) In this matter I have to add that I am a strong supporter of civil liberties.
Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
I’m no Ubuntu member and to be honest, I don’t even know exactly what it is. … All I know you have to do something for the community and apply to become one … but that’s about it. As you can see by my current “interest” in this topic I don’t plan on becoming one. At least not in the foreseeable future.
What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
Well, obviously I use Ubuntu, well actually Xubuntu, regularly and my server runs on Debian. At work I’m “forced” to use Windows and MacOS (not X, but an older one).
As I see most people try only to run software which was specifically designed for their machine. My impression is that a lot of Gnome users want to exclusively use Gnome applications and the same goes for KDE users. I, however think, I use the best tool available for a given task.
Right now I’m running FF Beta 5, Kontact, Konversation, Konqueror, Skype, aMSN, Kopete, eva, rtorrent, openssh-server, Vbox (yeah, I know, I keep saying on the forum that VMWare is, in my honest opinion, easier to setup for networking within the LAN and has better USB support, but on Hardy I couldn’t get VMWare to run. …)
From the list above I have to specifically point out rtorrent. Running rtorrent within screen is just marvelous. It uses very little resources and features everything I need for a bittorrent client. The only thing I miss so far is not being able to create torrents with it. But for that I use some other software.
On the server I run a typical LAMP setup with Debian Etch, PHP5, MySQL 5 and my buddy also installed there a TS2 and Ascent (World of Warcraft) server. Because of the server I actually started to play WoW – up to now I was successful at resisting it. … Damn Blizzard, I was also an addict of Diablo and Diablo II.
Another two very important applications are LUKS/dm_crypt and TrueCrypt. I should not forget to mention those.
What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
I’m still very surprised at the patience of the forum staff. Tirelessly they answer the same questions time and again. I couldn’t do that (see above). Kudos to the forum staff. You do an excellent job and I don’t envy you for it. I know how difficult it is to admin/moderate such a big forum. Well, I have not experience with such a big forum and with such a huge userbase from such a diversity of countries and cultural backgrounds. However I do have experience with forum administration on a smaller scale.
I don’t have actually a worst memory of Ubuntu Forums. There was this one incident when I got an infraction upon voicing my opinion but the mod thought the infraction was justified as he thought I violated the CoC.
Well, this was cleared and my infraction was canceled, but this was a singular incident in 1½ years of participating in the forums. My only critic would be that sometimes users are too spoon-fed. ;)
What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
I forced my mom to use Ubuntu. Every 4-5 months she had very serious issues with Windows – no matter what I did. I couldn’t tighten it up totally because then she couldn’t do anything anymore and I was just tired.
During Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2006, I just installed Ubuntu on her notebook. She’s basically using a browser, email, OOo for text processing and simple spreadsheets and listening to web radio. Meanwhile I upgraded her a few times and changed the DE every time.
It took a little while for her to get used to it as icons and locations were different. But she likes now KDE the best (after having seen and tested Gnome, Xfce and KDE for several months each) and so it will now be KDE for her in the future.
What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
I would like a broad range of corporations and businesses and governments implementing Linux as desktop OS. I think when they “force” their employees to use Linux then the employees will see that it is not really as difficult as others try to make believe.
I also assume that with the gain of a substantial marked share on desktops (5%+) that hardware manufacturers will also be more open to develop and provide Linux drivers. Incompatible hardware is, IMHO, a huge problem in the adaption. Most people will just buy a complete box which will most likely contain some incompatible hardware and when they then try a Linux based distro they will be quickly disappointed.
If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
Well, even trying something new shows more courage than most people have. The unknown scares us. Just remember Linux is not Windows (or MacOS) and not a direct replacement. It can become frustrating but you are not alone.
When you need help, visit the support forums, visit the IRC support channels and most likely you will get help. Give Linux a fair chance – but don’t forget that Linux is not made for everyone. We are all different and have different needs. As Goethe said, “The path is the goal.”
hyper_ch has a colorful presence on the forums, and you can get an overview of his character on his user profile and Launchpad pages. As an added bonus, if you’d like to see the world how hyper_ch sees it, he invites you to visit his Panoramio page. For more interviews with staff and community members, please read Nine simple questions.