This is the first interview in what I hope becomes a series with staff members and forum regulars. ubuntu-geek, officially forum user No. 1, created the Ubuntu Forums in late 2004 after the earliest release of Ubuntu, and so in a very real way, much of the groundswell behind Ubuntu can be attributed to him.
Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.
Well, my name is Ryan — “ubuntu-geek” on the ubuntuforums. I am 29 years old and live in Michigan. I am married but don’t have children yet, although it gets talked about. We have three dogs: a border collie and two blue heelers, all rescued from animal shelters. We also have two cats. Hmm, a mini-farm of sorts. As far as hobbies go, I recently got back into running/jogging and really enjoy that active aspect of my life right now. I am also a World of Warcraft junkie; if I get a chance I try to play a few hours a day. Education-wise I took a few years of college, but had some really good opportunities come up for me and I decided to pursue those, and it’s been a wild ride since. I look back 11 years since then and go, “Wow, I did all that? Cool!”
When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
My parents first bought a computer when I was in the ninth grade. It was a massive machine in a solid metal case. I think was a 486SX2; it had 1Mb RAM and a 100Mb hard drive. No CDROM, no sound and I think the video card was 1 or 2Mb. It probably weighed a 35 pounds, if not more. I think a couple years later I decided to try Linux; I saw it in a magazine. If my memory recalls it was Redhat 4.2 and Slackware (I couldn’t tell you the version though). I always found Linux interesting and intriguing, and soon discovered FreeBSD, which was my distro of choice for many years, I actually subscribed to the BSD Mall to get updates. :)
I noticed Ubuntu around end of September or early October 2004. I was using Yoper Linux but was frustrated with the lack of development and bugs, and happened to notice this new distro called Ubuntu. It was pretty exciting, and I quickly adapted to it.
When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?
Shortly after finding Ubuntu in 2004, I noticed the community lacked a forum, so I started one. I got some hesitation at first from the small group of people but frankly I didn’t care. The forums grew so fast from October to November 2004 that Canonical made them the official forums for Ubuntu in English. I continued to maintain and pay for the servers until March 2006 when Canonical gave us hosting. In June 2007 I transferred complete ownership of the domains and vBulletin license to Canonical. I still continue to maintain the technical aspects of the forums and serve on the Forum Council as the chairman.
Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
Yes, I am currently an Ubuntu member. Most of my contributions to Ubuntu have been via the forums. I hope to possibly venture into some other areas when I get the time to dedicate to them.
What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
I use Ubuntu and OSx on a daily basis. I like Gnome over KDE. As far as my favorite application, hmm … oddly enough, VLC for music and video. I don’t think I really have a least favorite.
What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
Man, there are so many great memories I have had on the forums. I think the best was when we made the forums pink and put ponies in the theme. That was a riot. As far as worst, probably working out the details on the Forum Council. Things got heated sometimes and I lost my temper. :)
What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
I’ve converted a few users over to Ubuntu, and its pretty interesting talking with people in my local area how popular Ubuntu really is. I would love to give a speech some time about how Linux can better serve schools and small businesses — maybe some day.
What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
As do a lot of people, I really hope that Linux can become just as popular as OSx or Windows. In certain areas it already is, or has become even more popular. I wish game publishers would create Linux servers. But overall, I think Linux in general is making great strides and will definitely become a larger player in the next few years as technology improves.
If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
If you get frustrated, search the Ubuntu Forums, the wiki, join the mailing list — ask for help, don’t be afraid. If you find yourself frustrated, walk away for a little while and then try again.
ubuntu-geek keeps a blog at http://moxiefoxtrot.com/.