An interview with aysiu

You don’t have to be a developer or a marketer or even SABDFL to have a profound effect on the Ubuntu community. aysiu, one of the most prolific posters and a long-time forum member and staffer, has guided countless newcomers toward success with Ubuntu and Linux on the whole. With a bean count that surpasses 25,000 posts, he is a fixture in the community and a valued resource for Ubuntu newbies and veterans alike.

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

aysiu’s avatarI’m a bit shy about revealing all my personal details, but I will say I’m under 40, male, and married. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, am a Christian, and currently work in admissions (I used to be an English teacher). You can read my random thoughts at my blog.

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

To be honest, I was never that interested in computers until I started using Linux. I’d always viewed the computer as a necessary evil or “just” a tool (one which is usually broken), even though I’ve been using computers since the early 80s. It was a serious case of spyware/adware that hit our Windows XP computer in June 2004 that got me thinking about alternatives to Windows. Too cheap to shell out for a Mac, I tried out Linux (Blag, to be exact), didn’t find it “user-friendly” enough, and went back to Windows… but with Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

My continued use of Firefox opened me up to the world of open source, and I gave Linux another chance in April 2005, using Mepis. I switched to Ubuntu in May 2005 and have been using Ubuntu full-time ever since.

In some ways, I do still view computers as a necessary evil, but if you have to use something, you might as well get to know how to use it well.

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

The forums (and the Ubuntu Guide) were what drew me to Ubuntu, even though I found Mepis more “user-friendly” (more graphical frontends for tasks, preinstalled proprietary software) at the time. The Ubuntu Forums members were responsive, friendly, and knowledgeable. The ability to copy and paste a whole bunch of commands from the Ubuntu Guide really turned me on to the power of the terminal and move me away from my dependence on the GUI (graphical user interface) and fear of the CLI (command-line interface).

A few months after being a forums member, I was asked to be a moderator. I stepped down after a while so I could just be “normal” again, but when I was asked a second time to be a moderator, I stayed, and I think — moderator or not — I’ve been able to help out some new users, and it feels good to know I can help other new users, even though I’m not a programmer or system administrator.

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

I’m not a Ubuntu member, and I don’t plan to be. I’m actually not even sure what membership is for. I have a tendency to shy away from being “official” anything. I don’t like being on committees or boards, but I do like to help out when I can… unofficially, of course.

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

I did a little distro-hopping the first two months of Linux use (even though Mepis and Ubuntu were my main distros). These days, though, I pretty much use Ubuntu exclusively. My favorite applications are Firefox, Thunderbird, Rhythmbox, F-Spot, and TagTool. My least favorite application is Evolution. I just use what works for me, though. These days I’m less and less into tinkering and more and more into getting stuff done.

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

My fondest memories, oddly enough, are all the crazy fights about Linux “desktop readiness.” It’s amazing that no matter how much time has passed, how many arguments have been repeated, how many improvements developers have made, people still can argue about Linux being “not ready for the desktop” or fill-in-the-blank year being “the year of the Linux desktop.” I find it fascinating.

My worst memories are of the Ubuntu update that caused people’s X servers to crash. I was lucky enough to not have updated at that time, but I know a lot of people got slammed, and it can be a scary thing to see people stuck at the command-line. It’s okay to be at the command-line if you want to be there, but being stuck there is not a pleasant experience.

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

I’ve never done it. I tried to “convert” a Windows user to Mepis when I first started using Linux (the newest converts are always the most enthusiastic about evangelizing Linux), and that failed miserably. I don’t believe in preaching, whether it’s Christianity or Linux. Live your life in the way you believe to be right. If you inspire others to do the same, great, but don’t force your beliefs or lifestyle on someone else. That’s how I operate.

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

I’d love to see Linux desktop use at 33 percent of the market. I don’t think we should take over the world, but we should be a presence in the world, the way Linux servers are a presence in the server market. Linux being a presence would mean real choices for non-tech-savvy end users and better hardware and software support for all Linux users.

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

Don’t believe the hype. Lower your expectations, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Come with an open mind. For more details, read Is Ubuntu for You?

aysiu keeps a blog at For more interviews with forum members and staff, read Nine Simple Questions.

6 thoughts on “An interview with aysiu

  1. matthew

    Aysiu is a valuable addition to the Ubuntu Forums and we are privileged to have him as a part of our staff team. Thanks for an enjoyable interview.

  2. mdsmedia (Michael)


    You’ve always been a respected commenter, by me, and although I haven’t always agreed with you, I’ve always agreed with your point of view.

    I always look at your opinions, just to see what you’ve got to say, because you’re always balanced and, I feel, reasonable.

    As a forum member since October 05 I’m interested in your progress and amazed at your contribution. I’d love more insight into how and where you’ve received your knowledge. I’ll never say “you’ve obviously got more time than me” because I don’t believe it, but I’d love to know where you’ve gained your expertise, in not much longer time than me.

  3. ubuntucat

    I appreciate the compliments, but I don’t really have that much expertise. What little knowledge I have gained has mostly come from trying to help other new users. I’m a firm believer in teaching being the best way to learn, and my experience with Ubuntu has only solidified that belief for me.

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  6. robert

    Aysiu, is the most precious member of the ubuntuforums, he’s formal, intelligent and so nice. I begin to know about him and like him, after he send an infraction message about excessive bumping.I like that, because it means, that he cares and watch the posts, and he’s awake and not asleep :D.
    Aysiu, you’re the spirit of the word “ubuntu”


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