I started asking myself questions about Linux the other day. I began to think about what Linux lacked that Windows had (trying to get into the head of a die hard Windows fan and persuade them to think Linux). Certainly it isn’t appearance. Windows is actually behind Linux in this area. Certainly it isn’t detectability. Linux is also ahead of Windows in this area. Driver support? Yes…big gap…but one that we as Linux programmers, developers, and users are all well aware of and one that cannot be improved drammatically unless manufacturers get behind Linux. So what is left? Wizards. Wizards? That’s right. Wizards. No, not the D&D spellcasting folk…put your twenty sided die away. I’m speaking of the nice trail of menu’s that greet you to set up a function in your operating system.
Those of you who followed our experiment here at Yet Another Linux Blog followed my wife’s path as she test drove distros for their out of the box abilities. Those of you who stayed positive throughout this process also understood why some of the more popular distros did not rate well…simply because they do not have much done for you out of the box. The reason we chose rating out of the box is because most new users wont be able to install hardare and software easily without reading some documentation and those new users might become immediately frightened of the aspect of finding answers to ‘how to do this’. By having stuff done a user can gain confidence at the early and critical times of using a distro and then build on top of that. Therefore, we set out to find the best distro that came suited for a user like my wife. If you followed along, you also know that PCLinuxOS was rated the top distro. As promised, today we’ll chat with Texstar, the creator of PCLinuxOS.
Devnet: Please tell us a bit about how you got your start in Linux/Computers/Open Source…
Texstar: My first successful Linux install was Red Hat. I later found Mandrake which was nothing more than Red Hat with KDE at the time. I moved to Linux after watching Microsoft abuse their monopoly on the desktop. I formally provided unofficial 3rd party rpm updates to Mandrake users between releases until that function was taken over by Mandrakeclub.
Devnet: What type of person do you see yourself as?
Texstar: I’m kind of quiet, laid back, humerous and easy going person. I don’t take life too seriously. I look for the good in people. I enjoy chatting with fellow Linux users on our IRC channel (efnet #PCLinuxOS). What a great bunch of people…except for that Lewis guy. Just kidding Lewis! We love you, we really do
Devnet: Why did you start PCLinuxOS?
Texstar: To provide an outlet for my crazy desire to package source code without having to deal with egos, arrogance and politics. I love to package. It is like a puzzle where all the pieces have to fit together or the code doesn’t work.
That is my favorite part of doing PCLOS. The other reason is I wanted something that worked out of the box, looked fabulous and didn’t require a technical degree from college to get it working.
Devnet: How did you come up with the name?
Texstar: It is Linux for your Personal Computer. I wanted something generic that people could easily relate to and the name matches our website.
In the beginning of things, open source was about open everything. I remember joining an irc channel # on efnet back in 1993 and chatting with people who could make things happen with computers…really make things happen. Coders, managers, hackers…they were all there and a tight nit core of about 6 of us stayed in touch for about 7 years until we went our separate ways and began to use irc less and less. The thing that I remember the most is the fact that when I joined their little group, I was a complete and total n00b. Not just a n00b to Open Source…but to computers altogether. I had a Texas Instruments computer back in 1985 but only messed with that for about a year. Mice were new to me…I didn’t know ANYTHING at all. In the short time that I began chatting on irc, I was shown how to do things. When I didn’t know how to do something, I could count on one of the guys or girls in the channel helping me to solve my problem within a matter of minutes. These people stepped down off of their level of operation long enough to educate me in the ways of the open source.
I look fondly back at this time and have spoken about it before…not because I don’t think something like this exists now…just that I think it is a rarity. There was a time when this “spirit of open source” was all about educating and furthering the program/app that you were working on. Now it seems that when a new user comes in to any channel on irc or forum, they are told off with a hearty RTFM (Read the ‘Friendly’ Manual).
Where did this Elitism come from? Where and when did Linux and open source become about the mentality “you must be this knowledgeable to ride?” It pains me to see people do this to new users…distancing themselves from potential advocates of open source…zealous ones at that. It’s a real testament to some of these new users STILL wanting to plug open source and Linux, despite being squashed by elitists in forums.