An interview with ugm6hr

Whether by chance or by luck — but probably not by design — several staff members have medical training or experience. Probably the only other common “real-life” denominator would be the IT industry, which would definitely put medical-related professions second. ugm6hr is a member of the latter category, and another Linux user who migrated from Vista. Poor performance led to Puppy Linux, and then … well, maybe you should read it from the source. … 😉

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

I’m a 29-year-old medical trainee in my “real” life. Trust me — this occupies most of my waking hours at the moment! I’ve lived in the UK most of my life, apart from a short sabbatical in Australia.

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

My first computer was a BBC Micro when I was about 7. I quite liked toying with BASIC to do nothing useful other than prove it was possible to get a computer to follow my instructions. After that, I went through a series of Commodore Amigas until they ceased to exist. They were predominantly used for school work and gaming, from where I transitioned to a Windows 95 PC and a Playstation.

Having kept myself entertained with the Playstation through university, my computing needs turned purely to communication, Internet and office applications to facilitate progression through my career.

My first encounter with Linux was intrigue at my brother’s installation of Gentoo in 2006. A few months later, my laptop would intermittently fail to boot from the hard drive, and I recalled that Linux Live CDs existed. I tried Xubuntu 6.06, which I had burned some time earlier, and found that the laptop worked just fine.

Blaming my ever troublesome XP, I decided to pursue Linux as an alternative. A bit of research revealed Puppy Linux 2.14 to be a friendly and fast Live CD, which I used to back up my HD which now flatly refused to boot at all.

I continued to use Puppy on a Live CD for about a month before running a diagnostic on the HD, which revealed a hardware fault. Having grown accustomed to the speed of Puppy Linux, I installed it in a dual-boot with XP following HD replacement. This was a good honing ground, but I still felt I needed Microsoft to do any productivity work, and reserved Puppy for simple web-browsing and email.

Things changed with my new laptop. It came with 512MB RAM and Vista Basic; not a good combination. It took over five minutes to get to a login screen, and a further five minutes to load Internet Explorer. Realising this was not going to work, I ordered an extra 512MB RAM, but in the meantime wiped Vista and replaced it with Xubuntu 7.10 as my primary OS.

Despite my initial intention to return to Windows, I never looked back…

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

I joined the forums as soon as I heard about Linux in 2006. It was the busiest Linux forum I could find. I started by just browsing intermittently, to see what kinds of things people were having difficulties with; I’m certainly not one to dive straight in! It seemed like a developing movement that I wanted to at least be aware of.

Once I had installed Ubuntu, I used the forums to find out how things worked. Took a year before I made my first post, which I think was to help someone out. Liked the idea of assisting people with their new OS, so I started to help people who were finding their way, just as I had done a few months earlier. I’ve basically kept on doing that ever since, and the powers that be must have noticed. Earlier this year, I was invited to become a moderator, which I jumped at, although it hasn’t changed my approach to the forums much.

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

I am embarrassed to say I’ve never considered Ubuntu membership. My involvement in the Ubuntu community through the forums has been somewhat unplanned; even my subsequent invitation to moderator status was a pleasant but unexpected surprise.

While I am now committed to the ideals of Ubuntu, my initial involvement in the forums was to help individual users rather than developing a role in the future goals of Ubuntu. Perhaps this is something I need to look into. I do like to know that I can give each project I commit to sufficient attention; this applies to my professional and hobby-life, and, unfortunately, my professional life is inundated with work at the moment.

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

The only distro I use now is Ubuntu 8.04. I transitioned to Gnome with 7.10, and left Puppy Linux behind with my new hardware. I have played with other distros more recently, but only on computers other than my primary machine.

As for software, the application open for the most time is Firefox (now FF3 since Hardy). I’m not sure if it’s my favourite application, but merely the one that performs the function I need most often. Other windows that are often on my desktop include Thunderbird, Pidgin and Kaffeine (for DVB TV). Work generally requires Evince to review PDF journal articles, Impress for presentations and posters, and Calc for rota creation and research data collection.

I think the application I like best is mail-notification, so I can know when my email arrives without leaving Thunderbird cluttering up my workspace. Or perhaps the Scale plugin for Compiz, which allows me to find the window I’m looking for.

My least favourite application? Base, without a doubt. Databases are great for data collection, which I need to maintain a logbook and do simple research and audit projects. Unfortunately, while Base looks and feels like a decent piece of software, it is mind-numbingly slow even with 130 data points. Shame really … I have yet to find a decent alternative to MS Access.

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

My recollections of the forums? I would say that the first “thank you” response is one that rates highly, and encouraged me to continue with my support role. Undoubtedly, the invite to become a moderator certainly put a smile on my face. Worst memory would have to be the first personal insult following my moderator input. It’s certainly not all roses being a moderator.

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

I do wonder whether I don’t promote Ubuntu enough in the real world. In the past year, I’ve installed Ubuntu (or derivatives) for a few people. Easiest was my mother, who took to it with no effort whatsoever. I thought that I was administering her system for her, until I realised she’d done a Gutsy to Hardy upgrade without telling me!

I have more recently installed Ubuntu for a friend on his media centre PC (with Elisa), which is a work in progress for him. I also installed Xubuntu on a discarded work computer for my colleagues to get online with. This has been a remarkable success, with two of my colleagues taking the time to ask about the benefits of Linux vs Windows having experienced it. I had initially hoped that it would serve as my personal computer in the office; unfortunately, it is now the most popular of the machines. I have also donated or sold two older machines with Xubuntu to new users, although I have no idea what happened to them…

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

My wishes for Ubuntu’s future? I think I’ve seen it develop very rapidly over the 2 years that I’ve been watching, and have no doubt that it will continue to innovate in ways that I have not previously thought would improve my productivity. On a selfish note, my main hope is for a decent GUI-based database application to become available, so I can be 100% Open Source.

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

I think every new user should realise that an OS is not generally something to get too excited about; so consider why some people feel strongly that Ubuntu is something they should promote.

You learn more about ugm6hr on the user profile page. For more interviews with forum staff and members, please read Nine simple questions.


5 thoughts on “An interview with ugm6hr

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

  2. LaRoza

    I didn’t plan on becoming an Ubuntu member either (you’ll see my flat out rejection of the idea on my interview on this blog), but I did it.

    You should go for it when you get the chance 🙂

  3. Dr Small

    Nice interview. Can’t say as I have had the pleasure of meeting the good doctor, but his name does seem familiar by sight.

    Thanks for your time! 🙂

  4. KevDog

    Interesting perspectives to say the least. Although Ive asked other members, I can’t seem to figure out what the benefit of Ubuntu membership is either. Keep busy with the presentations and research.

  5. Pingback: Lettre Hebdomadaire Ubuntu numéro 95 du 8 au 14 juin 2008. « Lettre Hebdomadaire Ubuntu

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