Digital Edition

SYS-CON.TV
Point-and-Click Linux! Your Guide to Hassle-Free Computing
Exclusive Interview with Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

If you have ever met Robin Miller or "Roblimo" as he prefers to be called, you immediately realize that he's one of the endearing "characters" that make Linux colorful.

Roblimo is editor-in-chief for the Open Source Technology Group, which includes Linux.com, slashdot.org, and SourceForge.net, and is the author of the Online Rules of Successful Companies (FT Prentice Hall). He's very zealous in his belief that Linux is a great choice for operating on the server or the desktop. He's also very dedicated to Linux evangelism and his latest book, Point and Click Linux! Your Guide to Hassle-Free Computing, demonstrates that position.

One example he gives about why Point and Click Linux! makes sense is: he lives in a community in which neighbors loan each other things (tools and whatnot) but many don't understand that loaning software is not the same as loaning a lawn mower. The software he discusses in his book is a neighborly approach to sharing information on how to use Linux to do what people want to do with their computer: write e-mail, author documents, and chat with friends, not spend countless hours installing software and recovering from viruses; Linux is something he can share with his neighbors.

The premise of his book is that Linux doesn't have to be hard to use. Robin breaks down his view of Linux compu-ting into six basic commands: point, click, highlight, paste, drag, and drop. As someone who has a basic understanding of the command line and Linux system administration, this simplified approach is something I'm more comfortable sharing with my nontechnical colleagues, friends, and family. Robin's desire is to share Linux with his neighbors who may not be computer savvy and he does so in this book.

LWM: When did you start using Linux as your desktop operating system and why?

Roblimo: I started using Linux in 1997. I first tested it for a column called This Old PC that I wrote back then for Time Digital's "Netly News." The column was about reusing old hardware and generally saving money on computing. Naturally, I ended up testing Linux.


LWM: At what point did you feel you could start recommending Linux to others and why?


Roblimo: Around 2001. My first try at Linux - an early version of Red Hat - didn't end happily. I needed a lot of help to get it going. Mandrake was the first Linux version that was truly usable by ordinary people, and I'd say 2001 was the year it got good enough that nongeek humans could use it without hand-holding.


LWM: What's different about Point and Click Linux! as opposed to other books about the Linux desktop?


Roblimo: To begin with, it's not just a book. It's a complete Linux desktop migration package, complete with a custom Linux distribution - SimplyMEPIS - that is made to meet the needs of desktop computer users and it has the world's first Linux video instructions for new users to achieve wide distribution. You can literally watch the videos, then run SimplyMEPIS as a live CD and start using Linux in just a few minutes.

Almost half the book is pictures too. An average person who has used a computer at home or at work should be able to become fully proficient at using Linux the "Point and Click way" in a relaxed evening. If they have problems, they can turn to www.mepis.org/forum and get all the help they need, for free.


LWM: It's interesting that your approach is very visually oriented. Did you get a lot of feedback from users who had trouble learning Linux in the past or did you take your cues from your own intuition?


Roblimo: I wrote almost entirely based on questions I've received from new users, and I tested all my instructions on people who had never used Linux to make sure they understood them easily.


LWM: Why did you choose the lesser-known SimplyMEPIS (www.mepis.org) distribution for inclusion with the book instead of a more widely known distribution?


Roblimo: First, I was impressed with Warren Woodford's work with MEPIS. I believe he's done a great job bringing the stability and versatility of Debian to nongeek desktop users.

Second, the other Debian-based easy-to-use distributions, notably Linspire and Xandros, have licensing restrictions I didn't want to see on the CD in this book. I want people to be able to freely share the Point & Click Linux CD and video DVD with friends.

Third, Warren was willing to make the SimplyMEPIS version specifically for Point & Click users, with nothing but desktop software on it.

Perhaps I could have talked one of the others into doing something similar, but Warren volunteered to do it, and that was a big difference.

While no software set is perfect for everyone, I believe the SimplyMEPIS CD contains the best possible set of generic programs for desktop users - and they can always download more software either from the MEPIS servers for a small subscription fee or directly from the Debian servers for free.

MEPIS openly gives users this choice - and with the way Warren modified Kpackage to work with apt-get, software installation (and removal) takes only a click or two. It's very easy, even for people who have no experience installing software in any operating system.


LWM: Has the completion of this project inspired any new projects?

Roblimo: I'm experimenting with video training. This is my personal "next big thing." I'm making more training videos for assorted Linux applications, and I love videos because it's usually easier to show people how to do something than to tell them how with words and static pictures. I hope to make installation and troubleshooting videos for other Linux distributions, too.

.  .  .

Robin Miller's book was released in November 2004 and is available at book retailers everywhere. Additional information about Mepis Linux can be found at www.mepis.org.

About Mark R. Hinkle
Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

In order to post a comment you need to be registered and logged in.

Register | Sign-in

Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

Actually because he used to drive a Limosine so Rob-Limo or Roblimo.

You didn't ask him *why* he's nicknamed Roblimo??? Good interview, thanks.

Anyone listen to Roblimo at LinuxWorld this week?

Hey Rob, How about Ubuntu?




ADS BY GOOGLE
Subscribe to the World's Most Powerful Newsletters

ADS BY GOOGLE

ChatOps is an emerging topic that has led to the wide availability of integrations between group cha...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting ch...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being soft...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know ...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every ...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should mig...
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of ...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an over...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and ...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most,...
"Since we launched LinuxONE we learned a lot from our customers. More than anything what they respon...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily ...
"As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - w...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Ser...
Sanjeev Sharma Joins June 5-7, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @Cloud Expo New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy hig...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis too...
"Cloud4U builds software services that help people build DevOps platforms for cloud-based software a...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and...