An interview with bapoumba

Not everyone who uses Ubuntu is a middle-class white male from Illinois. In fact, part of the real benefit of Ubuntu and the ‘forums, is that so many people from so many backgrounds and cultures are drawn together by a common interest. bapoumba is a moderator who has a distinctly different perspective on many of the issues that surround Linux, Ubuntu and the community that has grown up with it.

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

bapoumba’s avatarI’m a mother of three boys (13½, 10 and 7½), and I live in France. I spent over three years in the U.S. after I graduated, and now teach Biology to second year university students.

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

I’ve always followed Linux from the start, but I have no background in Computer Sciences, so I observed for a long time. I installed Mandrake (7? I do not remember), when I felt I could find my way around. Compiling the drivers to get my ISP’s USB modem to work took me over two weeks. Compile? How do I do that? Get a file from this site? How do I do that? gcc, what’s this? And so forth. I learned how to search the Internet.

Then I tried Fedora for a while, until I discovered Warty when it first came out. I like Debian package managers, but never dared installing Debian. Warty arrived with perfect timing. I’ve been using Ubuntu exclusively ever since. I joined the French forums just after they opened, and lurked in UF to help people around. This is my way to learn, pick up a question, search for it, maybe find a fix, and learn.

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

I registered about a year ago. I was a mod on the French forums until around November 2006, and moved over to UF. When Ubuntu-geek asked me to join the staff team in February, I was very pleasantly surprised. I enjoy working in the staff team, and we find ways to have fun even in the middle of tough situations (we have a thread, “Random Thoughts”, that is really … random 😀 ). I try to help as much as I can, given my quite limited basic knowledge and the free time I can give.

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

I got accepted at the end of August. It took me a long time to decide whether I should apply or not. In a way, I’m not very good at asking things for myself, pushing myself forward. I contribute on the forums, in the French UWN translator team, in a small French-speaking jabber room, and within the ubuntu-women project. To me, the most important step was to sign the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. Along with being Debian-based, that’s what attracted me to Ubuntu.

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

Ubuntu, Gutsy (since Tribe 2) and Feisty. I do not have much time to experiment with distros, desktops and the like. I run Xfce, with some GNOME apps. We use gobby, a collaborative text editor to translate Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter in French. I cannot say I have a least favorite application, as they can always evolve. But I removed network-manager, for now.

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

Laughing at my computer. It happens quite a lot when I browse UF, members can be a lot of fun. Chuck Norris week was a great idea that came up while joking around in the staff forum. And all the people I’ve met, thanks to Ubuntu.

My worst memory was when I left the French forums, feeling a great loss. I got it over with. Some regressions with Gusty are also quite unfortunate, and hopefully will be bad memories soon.

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

I’m not much into advocacy; people come to Linux if they want to. However, my kids use Linux, because they do not have the choice (they still have an old DD [“Disque dur” is “hard drive” in French. — K.Mandla 😉 ] with Windows XP that never was connected to the Internet, to play some games). Two days ago, my eldest son asked me, “What is the difference between Linux and Windows?” I explained. Seeing his friends have their computer all junked up, he was quite puzzled we were not doing any of what they have to (anti-this, anti-that, defrag-this, format-that). He decided to continue with Feisty. 😀

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

Be ready for the desktop 😀

More seriously, I wish Linux remains a community and a collaborative project. In addition to some technical aspects, that’s what pulled me into this world. I’m a little drop among other drops. Let’s have the ocean make a difference.

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

Be curious and use the errors you get to search the internet, you’ll be surprised. 🙂

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


6 thoughts on “An interview with bapoumba

  1. Sun Wukong

    Finally it happened (private joke) ! Interesting to discover your Ubuntu-deep-involved and non-computer-scientist point of view and feelings. Thanks for the job 🙂

  2. Pingback: Lettre hebdomadaire Ubuntu n° 61 du 7 au 13 octobre 2007 « Lettre Hebdomadaire Ubuntu

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