There are six administrators on the forums, and Mike is the fourth to agree to an interview. Like some of his fellow staff members, Mike is an IT professional and has a decade of experience with Linux in several flavors. He helped organize last year’s merger of the forums into the official Ubuntu framework, and as the forum’s representative to the Ubuntu Community Council, he is among the some of the most influential people in the Ubuntu structure. In that sense, Mike is not just a forum administrator, but has a direct effect on the direction Ubuntu takes in the future.
Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real” life — name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.
My name is Mike Basinger. I live in Salt Lake City with my wife and son, where I am the Head of PC Systems at the Marriott Library on University of Utah campus. I’m currently back in school to finish my B.S. degree 20 years after leaving college the first time.
Outside of computers, my hobbies are games, history, travel and comic books.
When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?
I started in computers in 1988, when I was hired to be a computer consultant for the computer labs at Indiana University. I first starting using Linux in 1996, when my department needed a cheap replacement for a Sun Workstation web server that died. After four hours reading how to get RedHat and Apache installed, we had a working web server again. Needless to say I was hooked.
I was always a huge RedHat/Fedora fan, even getting my RHCE in 1999. In late 2004 I was having trouble getting new sound and ethernet cards working under Fedora Core 3. I remember hearing a discussion of Ubuntu in the LUGRadio podcast, and how good hardware support was. I tried it, and everything just worked. I have never turned back.
When did you become involved in the forums? What’s your role there?
I found the forums soon after installing Ubuntu. I was a mod on the Fedora forums for a couple of years before switching to Ubuntu. So after I learned the “Ubuntu” way of running Linux I started answering questions on the Ubuntu Forums. I got involved in the Backports project, and would bother jdong if there was any opening for forums staff. I was accepted as a mod on Sept. 19, 2005.
In late 2006 I volunteered to go to UDS Mountainview and represent the forums. ubuntu_demon and I worked with the Community Council and the forum admin to create the Forums Council. I was honored to be asked by ubuntu-geek to serve on that council a couple of months later.
Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?
Yes, I’m a Ubuntu member, with most of my work coming from the forums. I was also asked by Mark Shuttleworth to serve on the Ubuntu Community Council, which I was elected to in May of 2006 by a vote of Ubuntu Members.
What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?
I’m purely an Ubuntu person now. Using the current version on my desktop and Ubuntu 6.06 LTS on servers I run.
What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?
My fondest memories on the forums are the times right after a new version of Ubuntu comes out; it is always an exciting time. My worst is the trouble that the Ubuntu Forums has had with the Automatix project, and the hard feelings it has caused for many people in both groups.
What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?
A few. Last year at CES in Las Vegas, I was handing out Ubuntu CDs across from the Microsoft booth. Boy, did I get dirty looks.
What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?
I found like to see more work on Linux standards so third party vendors would have a good base to build applications for ALL distros of Linux. For Ubuntu, I would like to see more computer resellers offer Ubuntu as an install option for new computers.
If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?
Welcome to Ubuntu Linux, let me know if I can help.
You can read more about Mike’s personal and professional history on his blog; for a rundown on his extensive Ubuntu involvement, take a look at his Launchpad page. For more interviews with community members and staff, read Nine Simple Questions.
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