The denizens of the Programming Talk forum are a tough breed — able, intelligent, opinionated and vociferous. Wybiral is a good example of all those points: A freelance Python programmer and something of a gun-for-hire, an atheist and a music lover, a coach for new programmers and a veteran of Windows as far back as 3.1. And although he’s not part of the Ubuntu machine per se, he does have “code in the repos” as he says it, which means you might be using something he created. Here’s more from the man himself.
Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.
I’m currently freelancing Python programming, but I’ll take just about any job if the pay is proportionate to the amount of work. I have some college education, which I plan to continue very soon, but I’m otherwise self-educated.
My hobbies right now include Python and Lisp programming, hiking, cooking, and playing guitar. I have a dog (German Shepherd) named Scrappy and a cat named Dyna. I’m also a really big fan of music (of all different kinds, typically very energetic types such as metal).
When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
I became interested in computers when I was about 11, when I got an old machine with Windows 3.1 on it. After playing with my share of solitaire and MS Paint (we didn’t have the Internet back then), I found QBasic lodged somewhere in there, which sparked my interest in programming (it had the source for Nibbles and Gorillas, and at that age making games seemed like the coolest thing to do).
I essentially learned BASIC from the help files and the sources included. QBasic then led me down a dark and lonesome road involving other forms of BASIC, C and assembly.
My interest in Linux came from a general frustration with Windows about four years ago. The first “distro” I tried was Puppy Linux and I was extremely impressed by how small, fast, and flexible Linux was.
From there I shopped around a bit, eventually landing on Ubuntu, mainly for its low maintenance and high compatibility — not that the community didn’t play a large role in that too. After Ubuntu, and lots of inspiration from some really intelligent users in the forums and IRC, I was inspired to learn Python, and more recently Lisp (quite an improvement from my Win3.1 QBasic days).
When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?
I first came to the forums for support (when I was still a complete Linux n00b) but eventually I found Programming Talk, which is mostly where I reside now. My role, at the moment, seems to be the occasional Python support, in addition to attempting to educate low-level programmers who think the life of a programmer is best spent hassling with pointer arithmetic and bit manipulation (which it is not, unless you’re Linus Torvalds, but that seems to be a common opinion of new programmers).
Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
I’m not an Ubuntu “member” (I don’t think so anyway), but I like to think that I do contribute, mostly in the form of support for third party developers, and some of the chunks of code I’ve written have ended up in the repos. But, no, I don’t actively contribute to the actual distribution.
What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
The only “distro” I use at the moment is the plain-old Ubuntu. As far as software goes, Firefox is the most used application on this computer by far; following that would probably be gedit, eclipse, and emacs. Occasionally I’ll use GIMP or Blender when I need graphics of some kind, and audacity when I need to record something, but mostly I’m a very boring user who spends most of his time typing out code and reading things online.
What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
I’m not sure that I have a single “fondest memory”, but I’ve met a lot of interesting people as a result of the forums (most of the cool ones hang out in #ubuntu-programming) and have had some very enlightening conversions, if that counts. My worst memory was the result of a few moderators thinking that the UF law extends beyond the forums and the official IRC channels. … Silly moderators.
What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
I’ve introduced quite a few people to Ubuntu. Firstly, my fiance, a handful of my friends, as well as some odd folks I’ve encountered on various other programming forums and IRC channels. Typically, all you have to do is tell them to try the live CD, it’s all downhill from there. The price tends to be a huge factor as well.
What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
To be honest, I’d like to see better package management. The package system is great, but too often I find myself having to manually install some development files and build things myself because the package somehow exploded.
Better package support would be a plus too; I hate being two or three versions behind the most recent releases. Unfortunately, I’m not even sure there’s an easy way to fix this problem, as it’s more of an issue with the third-party developers than Ubuntu or Debian itself.
If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
Before you ever try to build something … please, do a
sudo apt-get install build-essential first. And don’t ask which language to start with in the programming forum, just use Python
Wybiral has a home page of sorts, but you can also follow his user profile page to get a better idea of the man at the other side of the keyboard. For more interviews with staff and community members, read Nine simple questions.