An interview with bodhi.zazen

More and more it becomes clear, particularly if you have been following these interviews, that not all Ubuntu users or forum members fit the stereotype of a Linux geek — the middle-class, mid-20s, white male from Illinois. As another example to the contrary, bodhi.zazen leads the Ubuntuforums Beginner Team, moderates full time, and is involved in some Ubuntu spinoff projects, like Fluxbuntu. Another non-techie with a personal history in computers, bodhi.zazen might represent the face of Linux enthusiasts to come: someone who has interests and responsibilities (like four children!) beyond the computer screen, but has one foot planted firmly in the Ubuntu community.

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

bodhi.zazen’s avatarBodhi.zazen is derived from Buddhism — “bodhi” is a symbol of enlightenment and refers to the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. “Zazen” is the sitting meditation at the heart of Zen Buddhism.

I am a non-IT professional in Montana and a father to four children. I chose Montana for the natural beauty and the solitude of the outdoors. I spend my weekends with the children hiking, skiing and touring the local hot springs.

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

My father was a systems analyst and I recall the days when computers were programed with punch cards. I built my first “computer” as a home electronics project and programmed it (in machine language) to flash lights and neon red numbers. Neon green Unix mainframe -> DOS -> mouse -> Google. Viruses, worms, adware, spyware.

After many years of “brain death” it occurred there must be a better way. At the advice of a guru I started with Red Hat. The command line stopped me dead in my tracks. Same with Debian. Slackware did not even have a gui (that was before I knew how to spell “startx”). Moreover, many Linux communities seemed to take great pride in elitism and RFTM.

Ubuntu changed all that.

“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. … “

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

One day, in 2005, much to my surprise, I saw a question on the forums I actually could answer. I have been actively involved with the forums ever since.

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

From time to time I have put together a “How-to”, although xpod thinks they should be called “how – longs.” I have contributed to the Ubuntu wiki and the UDSF. I lead the Beginners Team and moderate on the forums.

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

I am somewhat of a distro explorer hopper, although I keep coming home to Ubuntu. I like Arch Linux, Fedora, Wolvix, Zenwalk, Fluxbuntu, Sabayon, and Elive. I am also very impressed with Mint Linux. Personally I like to perform minimal installs plus Fluxbox, plus only the applications I need (Fluxbuntu if I am being lazy).

My favorite application has to be Virtualization. At the risk of starting a jihad, my least favorite application is KDE.

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

More then anything else, I still enjoy welcoming new users, and my fondest memories are the “eurekas” as new users explore a new OS. Least favorite part of the forums is a toss up between the Backyard and malignant code.

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

I have had had great success converting people to Linux and Ubuntu. In my experience most people can use Ubuntu as easily as they use Windows, if I install it for them. I teach an eight-week, hands-on, Linux course once a year at the local Adult Learning Center. My wife and I refurbish donated hardware, wipe the hard drives, install Ubuntu, and give them to the needy within our community.

What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu? If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

In the future I would like to see Open Source become the standard operating system installed by default with new computers.

Along those lines I would like to encourage people to donate to open source projects. We all know Linux is “free,” but are you willing to contribute to the cause? By that I only mean to point out that many of the applications in the open source community are written and maintained by developers, and made available for download on public servers.

If you like this service consider donating $25-50 yearly to your favorite developer, application, Ubuntu, whatever. This will keep the Linux community going and is certainly a small investment in return for the service. Think of like contributing to NPR or PBS. … The beer may be free, but you should tip the bartender.

Peace be with you,
bodhi.zazen’s signature logo

For a synopsis of bodhi.zazen’s involvement in Ubuntu, take a look at his Launchpad page. For more interviews with community members and staff, read Nine Simple Questions.


9 thoughts on “An interview with bodhi.zazen

  1. KevDog

    I like the part about the 8 week Linux course. Id like to do that in my area. How did you get it started?

  2. Pingback: Lettre hebdomadaire Ubuntu n°69 du 2 au 8 décembre 2007. « Lettre Hebdomadaire Ubuntu

  3. Emptythevoid

    Glad to hear from someone who is not an IT Pro and still likes Ubuntu. I come from a Mac and Windows background, so I don’t spend a lot of time in a console unless I have to.

    I have a lot of old computers in my collection and although Xubuntu is nice, being able to put Fluxbuntu on it really brings them back to life. It’s nice to hear from someone working on that project. I hope that they get a final release soon.

  4. Pingback: Nine simple questions « Motho ke motho ka botho

  5. xpod

    Like most things computer related i`m a couple of years behind the general population and consequently have only just read your interview bodhi.Surprisingly short i have to say 😉
    In all seriousness, and unlike myself, your a great asset to the *buntu community and those “how-longs” are as good as any i`ve ever followed.

  6. Sikander Hayat Khan

    Nice interview. I’ve enjoyed most part of it except this statement.

    ‘At the risk of starting a “jihad”, my least favorite application is KDE.’

    You shouldn’t be using the word “jihad” as an alternative for “war”. Jihad is a religious term for Muslims against war whereas using the word war itself makes it more clear and understandable to everyone.

    I hope you don’t mind. Please don’t be an extremist against Islam and Muslims.



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