Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Walk Around London!

A walk around London is an amazing thing. Depending on the times of day you are walking around you can get pushed along with the momentum of the crowd or you have wide open spaces to enjoy and very leisurely stroll. I took a walk to Trafalgar Square and enjoyed every step of it. Maybe 20 minutes from the Hotel we are at. I didn't even need a jacket as I am told it was unseasonably warm that day. I took some pictures on my way back to the hotel and thought I would share some of them will you all.

I was here 2 years ago with my family. I enjoyed it, but were a bit hurried as everyone had something they wanted to see of do. This time I am just taking things in; in no particular order and just seeing things as I see them. It's a different perspective. I am enjoying the time alone with my thoughts and being able to sorta take a break and prioritize things and move other things completely off the list - I am regrouping, resorting, and remembering what is really important to me.

So enjoy the pics I took on my walk back from Trafalgar Square.

Big Ben


Sovereign Entrance to Parliament

View looking to my Left as I crossed the Bridge, looking across the river at the London Eye.

View looking to my left across the river at Parliament and Big Ben

View of Millbank Tower looking to my right as I crossed the Bridge (Canonical Office is on the 27th Floor)

MillBank Tower from across the river as the sun was setting

Another view of Millbank Tower as the sun was setting

The Boat were we have eaten and just chatted with friends a few nights

Some cool carvings in from of the hotel.

There was my view one afternoon as I enjoyed walking about London. :-D Seeing things and meeting new people.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Karmic Koala, Ubuntu 9.10, Days from Release!

Finding a few quiet moments in London to reflect on what I was doing 6 months ago and where I was at in my journey into the world of Open Source via the Ubuntu Project, I realized, "I've come a long way baby!"

However, the journey is still in it's infancy, I don't think I am crawling any more, now I am toddling along. I still fall, skin my knees, end up with a few bumps and bruises so to speak, but I am learning how to walk if you will.

I am in London this week, and I had the opportunity to see the view from the Canonical office, 27th Floor of Mill Bank Tower and it is as amazing as the OS Project, Ubuntu, they sponsor.

Amazing uh?

Thursday, will be the Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala release Party and I can't wait!!

If you are looking for a party in your area check out the list of parties around the world and join in the fun. If there isn't one in your area the there is still time plan one.

Thank you so much to everyone who has gone through the crawling stage of this journey, and are now helping me toddle through the Ubuntu and Open Source Communities. Thanks for lending a hand of support and feedback. I really appreciate it and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next 6 months hold. :-)


You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Marjo Mercado and Matt Zimmerman

Meet Marjo Mercado and Matt Zimmerman as I round out the interview series Where Karmic's Karma Comes From?

So far in this interview series, we've heard from managers of the Foundations Team, Mobile Team, Desktop Team, Kernel Team, and the Community Team. In this interview, we meet Marjo Mercado, Ubuntu QA Team Manager and the newest member of the Canonical Platform team.

to read full Article

In this final interview in my Where Karmic's Karma Comes From series, we meet Matt Zimmerman, Ubuntu CTO and chair of the Ubuntu Technical Board. Matt brings each team together with his tireless efforts to ensure quality, professionalism, and polish to each release.

to read the full Article

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Pete Graner and Jono Bacon

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Pete Graner and Jono Bacon

Two more interviews in the series, Where Karmic's Karma Comes From.

In this latest installment in my Where Karmic's Karma Comes From series, we hear from the Canonical Kernel Team Manager – and my husband – Pete Graner. In February, Pete handed me an Ubuntu "Intrepid Ibex" CD and a t-shirt that said, "Linux for Human Beings," and I haven't looked back.

more with Pete Graner here

Now we meet Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager and community columnist for Ubuntu User. I meet Jono earlier this year and later reviewed his recent book, The Art of Community. Let's Rock and Roll then, shall we!?

more with Jono Bacon here

You-In-Ubuntu - Karmic Release Candidate Available: Test It While It's Hot!

You-In-Ubuntu - Karmic Release Candidate Available: Test It While It's Hot!

...Well today, October, 22, 2009, is the day to grab a copy of the test image – called an ISO – burn it to a disk and live boot it, or install it and test away.
Ara Pulido (Canonical Ubuntu QA team) has written a great blog post: Let’s test Karmic RC!

to read more

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Rick Spencer

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Rick Spencer

In part one of this series of interviews with the Canonical Platform team, we heard from Robbie Williamson of the Foundations Team. Part two introduced us to David Mandala of the Mobile Team. In part three of this series, Where Karmic's Karma Comes From, we hear from Rick Spencer, Engineering Manager for Canonical's Desktop Team.

to read more

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: David Mandala

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: David Mandala

Part two of the seven-part series introducing you to the Canonical Platform Team in Where Karmic's Karma Comes From. In part one of this series, we met Robbie Williamson of the Foundations and Security team. In part two we ear from David Mandala, the Canonical Mobile Team Manager.

to read more

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meeting-N-Greeting at Lake Lure, NC

Yesterday, the Canonical Kernel Team kicked off their week long Sprint (meeting) in my neck of the woods. I had the opportunity after the kids finished their homework last night to run up to where they are staying and visit with them for a while.

I had met a few people about a year ago, maybe longer, in Lexington, MA, but it was great just to say" hi" to them again and meet a few more people. I didn't get a chance to speak to everyone, but I did spend some time with Tim, Colin, John, Jeremy, Steve, Manjo, Brad, Leann, Ike, and others (as I am sure I am leaving some one out).

The conversation was delightful and the group as always was welcoming bunch. Smiles and laughter were plenty and it just really helped remove some of the nervousness I was feeling about attending UDS and taking part the planning process of the next release. Thanks y'all!!!

Also, dholbach of the Canonical Community Team was there last night and will be here all week. Awesome fellow with a very contagious smile! We made plans to find some time to sit down today and go over some community stuff. AWESOME!!!

Also, manjo volunteered to give up some of his time after their meeting ends this week to help me test empathy, pidgin and skype and see if we can't get it to work correctly on my Dell M1330.

I can't wait to meet the rest of the team who are arriving this week. I'll try to grab some pics and put some faces and names together for you. :-)

Today is shaping up to be one busy day, but I am looking forward to the challenge!

Monday, October 19, 2009

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Robbie Williamson

You-In-Ubuntu - Meet the Platform Team Managers: Robbie Williamson

In the first of a seven-part series on Where Karmic's Karma Comes From, I'd like to introduce you to the managers of the Canonical Platform Team. The Platform Team is made up of the following teams: Foundations, Kernel, Desktop, QA, Mobile, Community, and Server. In this first interview, Robbie Williamson, the Ubuntu's Foundations Team Manager, discusses what's coming out in Karmic Koala and what we can expect in the Lucid Lynx release.

to read more

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Do you ever ask yourself where did the week go? I did today, and in reflection it was a really busy yet really fun week. Full of surprises, sentiment, and successes!

My new blog over on Ubuntu User is coming along as I walk my way through this new adventure with help and support from the folks at Linux Pro Magazine. I sent a series of interview questions to the Canonical Platform team and those interviews should be popping up over there this week. So keep your eyes open if you want read about how they encourage the community to get involved and share in overcoming obstacles and what happens when it all comes together. It's an exciting journey about a fabulous community that surrounds an awesome operating system like Ubuntu. I'm always on the lookout for people, places and points of entry within the Ubuntu Community to tell people about so let me know if you know of anything fitting into those categories - email me amber [ a t ] ubuntu [ d o t ] com. Thanks in advance. Please take a look at the Ubuntu User site and let know what you think. It all just makes me smile, I am really enjoying participating! :-D

Speaking of smiling, my birthday, my 40th birthday is happening on the 29th. Yeah, I'm owning it! I thought about telling people it was the 11 anniversary of my 29th birthday and I was only having anniversaries from now on, but why? I think my 40's are going to be the best yet. (dang I probably jinxed it now, let's hope not :-P) Oh and I think it is so cool that Karmic is being released on my birthday and I get to be in the UK for the release. So I guess I can share the day with a Koala. :-P

johnc4510, with Ubuntu Weekly News (UWN), pinged me this week and asked if I wanted to help with UWN. I was excited and thought it was really great to be asked to help out. More smiles!! Another point of entry for those of you looking for a way to become involved with the ubuntu community. Also of note, tyche, will be giving a class about UWN during open week. So join in and bring questions you might have about UWN to the session and see if this is something you would like to contribute to. Even if you only have ideas and links to points of interest you are still contributing. johnc4510, tyche, and the others on the UWN team are awesome to work with on this project so if you don't want to wait until open week to get involved then click here and join in on all fun.

I also had the opportunity to work with Jorge Castro of the Canonical Community Team to finalize the schedule for Open Week and get the information, for what I am sure is going to be a really cool booklet, for the event together. It's always great to say "hi" to new people and gather information for events. We got the wiki shored up and the announcement about Open Week went out to the community. It should be a really great week full of knowledge and opportunities. As I mentioned above about UWN being a point of entry to get involved in the community. There will be many session during open week that will offer points of entry. It was just fun to work with Jorge and I can't wait for more opportunities, should they arise, to help out the community team folks - they just rock!

I finally switched all my computers that I use on a daily basis over to Karmic. Then I figured out why gwibber wasn't playing nice with I was using my openid to sign into and didn't have the passwords set right. Once I set the password up on and fixed the account in gwibber, bam it was working. I also started playing around with empathy. I only made one successful audio and video call and that was just to Pete across the room. I tried to talk to a few other people and we got the video to work but not the audio. I'm really excited about using empathy, but to be fair I tried pidgin and skype audio and video as well and those didn't work either on my dell :-(. So I'll be trying to figure out what the heck I am doing with those 3 applications over the next week.

On the home front, the kids have made it through the first grading period at the new school. I am glad they are becoming active in the school community. What does that mean for mom - drives to school, meetings with teachers and parents, more opportunities to be part of other entwined communities. It also means I'll be making more friends as my kids make friends, as I am one of those over-bearing protective, mean moms, who just has to know who the kids are hanging out with and heaven forbid talk to their friend's parents. (you would think having parents that care is a fate worse than death to a teenager, oh the great tragedy of growing up that gets played out with every generation).
Oh and let's not forget Chorus, Band, Football games, competitions and more. I must admit, I LOVE being a MOM and I enjoy my kids so much - they make me smile!

Fall, full reds, golds, and yellows highlighting the trees giving the mountains a glow of fire against a Carolina blue sky, ushered in a colder climate this week. That meant it was time to fire up the wood stove. The crackling of the fire, the smell of the wood as it burns, and the warmth it gives off reminds me that this is my favorite time of the year. Whether it is playing a board game, or watching a movie, or just sharing a cup of hot chocolate and laughter with kids, fall of the year brings my house to a point where we stop and admire the changes that are not only happening outside the window, but what changes are happening inside the house and within each of us. What new growth will occur as fall fades into winter, and winter melts in spring - the blossoms that this season of reflection allows is always an amazing time for me.

Pete and I will be going to the UK for release week. He will have to work but I am looking forward to writing while I am there. I love writing about people in my family and what they mean to me. Each Christmas I try to give people in the family a story about one of our family members and how their lives have touched mine. It's my way of telling them thank you and letting them know just how special they are. I tell my kids all the time, I'd rather appear sappy and sentimental while telling the person how special they are than to tell it to family and friends at a funeral. We aren't guaranteed our tomorrows so I try to make the most of my today's!

I will also be meeting some new people and taking a few moments to spend some time with my wonderful husband while we are in the UK. Pete continues to be a source of encouragement, inspiration, and enthusiasm to me each and everyday, and brings me more joy than I have words to express.

It's been a great week for working on the house together as we set up my sewing area (and I finally finished a quilt I've been working on for a few months). We worked out the plans for where his office is going to go. And we unpacked a few more boxes as the house is slowly beginning to come together.

I have to admit, Pete working from home has been the weirdest adjustment for me. For 16 years he traveled about 6-8 months out of every year. We are slowly settling into a routine that allows for us each to have our space to accomplish our jobs and goals. It was a hard adjustment. Most people say, "oh your husband works from home you are so lucky." :-/ I am just now entering the yeah I think it's cool stage. When you aren't used to having anyone home during the day and having to give them space to do their job while still doing the day to day housekeeping and stuff, it's a HUGE adjustment. So this week I really felt like "YES, THIS IS AWESOME!"

I can't wait to see what next week holds but if it is anything like this past week was, then I am in for a really productive week full of accomplishments and smiles. Wishing you all successes and smiles for this and every week! Enjoy :-D

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You-In-Ubuntu - You're Invited: Karmic Ubuntu Open Week

Just wanted to share my latest Blog Post on the Ubuntu User Magazine Site.

You're Invited: Karmic Ubuntu Open Week

Hope you will check it out. Enjoy :-D!

HICKTech Classes

I had the opportunity to attend one of Emma Jane Hogbin's teleconference sessions on Effective Email Campaigns and how to market effectively using these services. What a wealth of information to be had in an hour. Well worth and time and money one would pay for these services. Emma Jane is patient, clear, knowledgeable, and understanding when it comes to any question you ask her on this subject and more.

For me personally I was looking at the options that were out there and trying to decided did I need to go with something other than my Thunderbird or gmail to send out my emails and newsletters theses days. She went through a list of options that from free services to paid services and what the difference were. Emma Jane explained them all.

If you or someone you know would benefit from attending a teleconferencing session on email marketing or building you own website take a look at Emma Jane's HICKTech website and go for it. It is awesome!! She has many options available I am sure one is just right for you. :-)

Also, don't forget the Holiday Season is fast approaching - these classes make great gift ideas. :-D

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Personalities behind the Fest - Jono Bacon

To most of you who read my BLOG today's Personalities behind the Fest (events) interviewee needs no introduction. He is affectionately know as a "Rock Star" in the Ubuntu and FOSS Communities - Jono Bacon.

Amber Graner: Jono thanks so much for taking the time to talk about the Community Leadership Summit (CLS) today. I had the opportunity to attend CLS and returned with a renewed energy and excitement for all things Community. I saw many opportunities for growth within the greater FOSS community as people shared their ideas and enthusiasm. However; this is not about my experience at CLS, so let me tell you all a little about Jono Bacon. He wears many hats; here are a few of them: works for Canonical, as Ubuntu Community Manager, an author of several books his latest - The Art of Community, a musician - Severed Fifth.

AG: What was "that" moment where you said to yourself "We need a Community Leadership Summit?"?

Jono Bacon: There was no specific moment, but a long sense of build up that there were few opportunities to really talk about community in an independent environment. It started when I started touring around the world visiting the Open Source conference circuit and meeting and greeting people involved in our wonderful community. Each conference that I would hit would often have a similar set of names, and each would get up and talk about their own specific work in their specific community. This was often underlined by an expected level of rivalry and competition that occurs in any industry. This sense of partisanship irked me a little. I have always believed that everyone should have the right and opportunity to build an awesome community, but there was little transfer of best practice between community leaders in competing organizations.

Interestingly, many such community leaders were close friends. Speaking personally, I am friends with many of the community leaders in Fedora, OpenSuSE, and Microsoft, and I consider many of these folks good friends. I started developing a feeling that we needed to share our expertise and knowledge more about topics that touch us all, but I was unsure of how to structure this.

Around November 2008 I got an opportunity to write a book on community and I grasped it with both hands. I wanted to write a book on the subject, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to share this best practice, and O'Reilly was happy for me to release a printed book that you could buy but to also release it under a free Creative Commons license. I started writing and as I descended deeper and deeper into the book I realized we needed an event to encapsulate the topic, and that is when I had the idea of the Community Leadership Summit.

AG: What was the biggest challenge to organizing CLS?

JB: The biggest challenge was coordinating how it would be paid for. Organizing events in the USA is in way, way more complex than my typical English homeland. I had organized events like LugRadio Live and various other gatherings, but it wasn't until we put together LugRadio Live USA 2008 that I learned of many of these complexities. The hardest part was the union rules. The union rules really bottleneck small events such as the CLS being put together and they hamper the ability to take a grass roots approach to putting it together - such as borrowing projectors, audio equipment and other elements or just doing it yourself. Also, the San Jose Convention Center also wanted to charge nearly all of the money that has ever been produced for coffee.

AG: Can you tell me about who helped in planning and executing CLS and what lessons you learned during the organizing stages?

JB: I put much of the event together myself: organized the venue, put together the website and organized the printing, badges and other bits. I did though have some remarkable people help with other elements. Grant Bowman from the Ubuntu California LoCo team, Amber and Pete Graner from Ubuntu, Karsten Wade and Mel Chua from Fedora, and my wife Erica all came and helped on the weekend, putting together the venue, helping our attendees and just generally building an incredible atmosphere at CLS. Also, Allison Randal from O'Reilly helped provide the venue space, Johnny Good (really) helped provide the A/V equipment and SourceForce, Alfresco, Canonical, Ragga-Wear and Monty Program all helped provide resources for the event.

AG: If someone wanted to plan a CLS type of event what advice would you give them? What was your budget? Where did your funding come from?

JB: My budget was more expensive because it took place at a convention center, and that was because I wanted it to piggy-back OSCON, with it being the first year. I would recommend that event planners avoid convention centers. They are big, often have difficult staff who only ever deal with massive shows so they don't tend to care about yours (although it has to be said, the San Jose Convention Center was awesome), they often enforce specific outrageously expensive catering providers, often have rigid union rules and have other limitations.

The whole idea of the CLS was to keep it simple, even within these complexities, and I saw my role as to hide this complexity from our attendees. I would recommend that event organizers start simple and work their way up too.

AG: What goals did you have for this event? Did CLS meet, exceed or fall short of those goals?

JB: The goal was simple: bring those passionate about community together in an environment that is vendor neutral. I wanted to attract community managers, leaders and enthusiasts from all walks of life, inside and outside of technology. We really seemed to get this and there was an incredible diversity of attendance, and a lot of people: around 250. The entire event far exceeded my expectations.

AG: What was the most surprising thing you learned while attending CLS?

JB: I was utterly gob-smacked when that many people showed up. I always worry before events, and I was worried that no one would show to the CLS. Fortunately, we had not only lots of people, but lots of really interesting people. :-)

AG: Can we expect a CLS in conjunction with OSCON from now on or do you envision CLS becoming a stand alone event held only once a year? Would you like to see CLSs happening around the globe? What are your long term goals for this event?

JB: Nothing is confirmed yet, but it is likely that CLS2010 will be before OSCON in Portland. Discussions are on-going. While there is a regional CLS-West being organized by Van Riper, I am not aware of any other events. Personally, I like the idea of having a main event each year, and if there are some smaller regional events, that is awesome.

Thank you again for taking time out of your schedule to tell us a little bit about the thought process behind the Community Leadership Summit and giving us a glimpse into the mind of Jono Bacon. I personally can't wait to attend CLS2010 and hope everyone else who can will make it as well. Click here to read more about Jono Bacon

Monday, October 5, 2009

"You in Ubuntu" My New Blog on the Ubuntu User Magazine Site

I can't tell you how thrilled and excited I am to be a Blogger on the new Ubuntu User Magazine site. I am so excited about Ubuntu User magazine, and now with the launch of to be joining the ranks of seasoned writer Marcel Gagné is pretty thrilling; ok AWESOME to me!

Since beginning this journey into Open Source via the Ubuntu Community and Operating System (OS) I am constantly amazed at the points of entry there are for anyone wanting to wade into the waters of the Community and Open Source. The events - be it two people in a coffee shop brainstorming ideas or 1000 people celebrating all things Open Source, and all points in between - there is so much to participate in, be part of, or just set back and support in your own way - there really is something for everyone. (yes I know I say that all the time - because it's true). :-D

I'm excited to be able to pass along information about all these great people, places and ideas within the Ubuntu Community, via "You in Ubuntu". WOW!!! If you know of an event that is being planned and it's not on The Fridge let me know about it. ( akgraner [a t] Let's get the word out and get some more folks helping out and joining in on all the fun in and around the Ubuntu Community.

So if you enjoy my blog here, take a look at my new Blog on the Ubuntu User Magazine site. Thank you so much everyone! This journey is far from over it's only just beginning. Keep reading and giving me feedback. The Ubuntu Community to me is just awesome. Thanks Linux Pro Magazine, Ubuntu User Magazine and Rikki Kite! I am looking forward to the next steps. So with that take a look at "You in Ubuntu" looking forward to hearing from you all. :-D

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ubuntu Global Jam at the 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa

NC LoCo Team is one of the many teams participating in the Awesomeness that is Ubuntu Global Jam Weekend. Thought I would go ahead and post some pics and share the fun with everyone. If you are in and around Lake Lure, North Carolina, Please stop by. If you can't then hop in the NC LoCo Team channel on Freenode (#ubuntu-us-nc) and say "hi"

Can't wait to see pics from the other Jam's happening this weekend! Community just Rocks!!

Snack area Cookie, Coffee, Soft Drinks, Waters

Matthew and Pete

Global Jam Area at the 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa
Jfo explaining something to Rebecca

Rebecca working hard
Happy Global Jam Day Y'all!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Personalities Behind the Fests - Alan Hicks Southeast Linux Fest

Hey everyone! As always I am looking for new and exciting faces and ideas to add to my blog. So I thought I would introduce you to the people behind some of the Linux Fests I've attended and lending some support to. Southeast Linux Fest was the very first Linux Fest I ever attended. Want to know more about SELF click here ( Let's get started:

Amber Graner: Hi Alan and thanks for being the first volunteer to be
interviewed for my series on people behind the Southeast Linux Fest.
Can you take a moment and introduce yourself to everyone so they can
get to know a little bit more about this Jaw-Juh (that's Georgia for
those not from the South), native, FOSS contributor and co-author of
Slackware Linux Essentials.

Alan Hicks: Well, I'm 29, single, intelligent, handsome, compassionate, sexy....
wait... this isn't e-harmony!

Ok, the truth. I'm a beer-drinkin', tobacco-spittin' redneck from the
Georgia swamps. I was born in bred in Lizella, Georgia, and currently
live in the Greater Lizella Area (GLA). To be more specific, I reside
in a location known to locals as Salamander Town. It's called this
because the only critters here are snakes and salamanders, and if we
called it Snake Town no one would want to live here. I'm a huntin',
fishin' hacker who's been running Slackware Linux since sometime in
late 2000.

As for what I do in the OSS community, I edited and largely authored a
revision to the original "Good Book", Slackware Linux Essentials, and
posted it online. You can find it at today,
or order a copy from the Slackware Store (
stand-alone, or bundled with a copy of Slackware 13.0 at reasonable
prices. The book is going through a third revision now (which is
really more of a total re-write), and should be released within six
months if my life will ever slow down.

I'm also a not-too-active member of
(, an online repository of scripts used for
compiling and packaging software for the Slackware Linux operating
system. If you're familiar with the BSD ports tree, SBo is very
similar. You simply download the SlackBuild script (and accompanying
files), download the source code (linked in those files), and run the
script to generate a Slackware package suitable for installation on any
machine running Slackware. The scripts take care of compiling binaries
(with architecture dependent CFLAGS), stripping binaries, gzipping man
pages, installing documentation, setting permissions, etc.

I was a member of the now-defunct SlackSec project which published
binary package updates for Slackware during when the maintainer,
Patrick Volkerding, was critically ill. At the time, we caught a lot
of flack when some members of the community thought we were trying to
usurp the role of Slackware maintainers from Pat, but those quickly
died away when Pat returned to better health and the SlackSec project
quietly ended.

Today, I'm a member of the "Super Secret Slackware Development Team",
working alongside others such as Eric Hameleers (alienBOB), Robby
Workman (rworkman), and of course, Pat himself. I'm not as active as
the others however, and sometimes consider myself to be more moral
support than technical help. I would like to participate more, but I
maintain a very busy lifestyle, and often when I get home from working
on computers for 8 to 10 hours, I need time to unwind away from the
monitor just to maintain the small degree of sanity I have left.

AG: I was reading that you work for a Company in Macon, Georgia,
Custom Technology Solutions of Macon (CTSMacon). Can you tell me
about it and what you do there?

AH: Certainly. CTSMacon is a small computer company specializing in open
source solutions for small businesses and local governments. We do a
little bit of everything, from Samba to Apache, Postfix to Asterisk.
I'm currently struggling with an independent software vendor (ISV),
who shall remain un-named. This ISV writes database software in MS
Access and MS SQL Server for county courts. I've been working to
convince them to port things over to MySQL with some success, but
things are taking some time to develop. It's frustrating to work with
a company that does not understand Linux and feels intimidated by its
use. On the other hand, they could stand to benefit from migrating to
this platform, as it would cost their clients much less money to
deploy, and in recessions such as the one we find ourselves in today,
saving clients money is perhaps the best way to grow your user base. For
more details, or if you need computer work performed for your company in
middle Georgia, see our website at

AG: I read your are a FOSS advocate, supporter and developer. What
first drew you into the world of free and open source software? When
did you first get involved with GNU/Linux. What was the distribution
you used then. What do you use now?

Well, to be honest, my road into this community is a little atypical.
Most people seem to learn about Linux from a friend or a family member,
but I sort of stumbled upon it. Back in late 1999, early 2000, the
only Internet connection I could get was AOL dial-up on a 2400 baud
(yes, that's 2400, not 2.4k) modem. The WWW was practically unusable at
such slow speeds, so I was limited to text modes of communication, as
downloading any sort of image would slow the connection to a complete
crawl. This was on a Packard Bell 486 DX (no math co-processor)!

I discovered Linux by crawling through AOL message boards before
finally making my way into AOL's Usenet portal. Yes, I learned about
Linux through the Eternal September. To make a long story short, I
read some one's long rant about Linux and the GPL and got interested
enough to search for more information. After looking through what I
could find through AOL, I finally did a google search for places to
purchase Linux. I read through several articles on different Linux
distributions and finally settled on one that sounded like it would be
a good learning experience, Slackware. I ordered Slackware Linux 7.1,
along with the first edition of the "Good Book" through of
all places. A few months before, I had purchased a brand new computer,
a white-box with 256MB of RAM, Windows Me, and a Pentium-III 800MHz
Coppermine. The P-IVs were new at this time, and I'd gotten a job
(doing of all things), sellings computers at a Sam's Club. I'm
starting to ramble, so I'll cut to the chase.

I installed Slackware Linux 7.1 (which used libc instead of glibc,
packed sendmail, apache, X, GNOME, KDE, and a whole lot more in under
1GB) onto this machine as soon as the disks arrived. At this time, I
knew no one in the world who used Linux, and the only Internet
connection available to me was America On-line. This would all change
just a few days after 9/11. I was working at Sam's Club, and got to
talking with this guy who ran his own computer company and knew even
less than I did. I BS'd my way into a job with his company and held on
long enough to learn to ropes. I played around with other distributions
such as Mandrake, SuSE, and (particularly) RedHat as the job demanded,
but I always kept coming back to Slackware.

AG: Seeing as how you sorta stumbled your way through getting involved in FOSS. What recommendations would you make for getting new non-technical people involved? What would be the way you would recommend getting your "average end used involved with a project and FOSS as a whole?"

AH: Wow is that a tough question! I think the trouble with getting
non-technical people involved with Linux isn't so much that they are
non-technical, but that they just don't care enough to make a switch.
Let's face it, switching is hard whether you're switching from Windows
to Linux, switching from MS SQL Server to MySQL, switching jobs, or
switching homes. We all get into comfortable ruts where things are
friendly and familiar. Switching out of those ruts is difficult, even
when you know the rewards are worth it.

Today, your average computer user is getting smarter each day. This is
largely due to natural processes. Young people today grow up immersed
in computers, which wasn't true even just a few short years ago when I
was a teenager. These people are more likely to try out Linux for the
same reasons that they are more likely to try out Facebook than their
parents are. They might gravitate towards distributions like Fedora and
Ubuntu, but not necessarily gravitate towards computer science. At
this time, I think the open source community is doing a good job of
reaching out to these people, and that as they mature into their
college years and into the job market, they'll be less indisposed,
perhaps even predisposed to using Linux.

I think the real challenge is in reaching out to the entrenched Windows
user base. Open source advocates may make progress in convincing users
to switch to Linux because those users are fed up with Windows Vista
(and see no reason to suspect that Windows 7 will be any better).
Right now, however, we have a particularly unique opportunity to
convince businesses and governments to adopt open source. The current
recession has caused many businesses and small local governments to
loose revenue. These organizations don't have the kind of money they
did just a few short years ago, but their network infrastructure is
aging every day. As they try to adapt and replace their failing
computer systems, open source advocates need to step up to the plate
with their own ideas.

We've heard for years how open source can save organizations money, but
many businesses have resisted switching because they are trapped in a
comfortable, familiar rut. Their servers and workstations may crash,
but it's become familiar and non-threatening to them. Still, if they
are going to update to Windows Server 2008, install MS SQL Server, and
license everything properly, they will be spending thousands of dollars
more than a comparable Linux of BSD system with Postgres or MySQL.

I think the real trick to convincing these businesses to switch though,
is to convince the ISVs they use to switch. This isn't always easy, or
even possible, but advocates should be reminding these ISVs of the
benefits. For example, I'm working with an ISV to get them to switch
from MS SQL Server to MySQL. Even if they decide to use Windows
servers, they could save their customers thousands of dollars while
turning a higher profit. This only makes business sense. By
reinforcing the benefits of FOSS to business organizations and ISVs, we
can overcome the inertia that keeps users from switching.

AG: You are one of the planners for Southeast Linux Fest (SELF)?
What in you opinion makes SELF such a great event? What areas of the
Event do you help with? What is the one thing in your mind that
stands out most about SELF?

AH: Well, I actually am not on the planning committee for SELF, but I do
try to attend meetings when possible and give input when I feel it is
warranted. I started coming into SELF's IRC channel
(#southeastlinuxfest on almost immediately after
people starting kicking around the idea. At this time, there was no
board or positions, just a group of people that really wanted to see
this happen. As for what makes SELF great? There's no one thing, but
if I had to choose, I'd put the following things on the short list.

1- The people. There hasn't been a major Linux event in the South
since the Atlanta Linux Showcase shutdown at the beginning of the
dot.bomb crash. These people would normally have to drive or fly long
distances to go to events like this. Having one in the South finally
taps back into this crowd of energetic people. After all, we have
major technology centers here such as Atlanta and Raleigh.
2- The people. The SELF board has done a spectacular job of organizing
the event. I can personally vouch that these guys put a lot of hard
work and planning into SELF and strive to make it something to
remember. They really deserve a huge pat on the back.
3- The relaxed atmosphere. The attendants at SELF aren't looking down
their noses at rednecks or country folks. In fact, quite a lot of us
are from rural areas and proudly wear it as a badge of honor. Can you
imagine a couple of guys getting together at SCALE in order to teach
people how to make moonshine for instance? :^) Could you imagine some
one stealing some one else's steak at OLF? (In my defense, the steak
had been abandoned and desired to be eaten. I was doing the steak a

As for what stands out the most, I'd say it was the camaraderie and
friendly atmosphere. The way people smiled and laughed easily and
everyone got along.

AG: Are there any special projects that you are involved in the FOSS
community that you would like to tell people about and encourage then
to participate in?

AH: I think I answered this mostly in my opening remarks, but it doesn't
hurt to come back to it here. - we're always looking for a few more good Slackers to
submit build scripts for the applications they use. While our
repository is large, it isn't nearly as complete as those utilized by
some other distributions (notably Debian and its descendants have very
extensive software repositories).

Slackware - we're always looking for a few good Slackers. If you're
the kind of person that likes to be in complete control of your
computer, then Slackware may be for you. It's a very complete,
no-frills, no-non-sense distribution that doesn't get in your way and
doesn't require you to do things a certain way. There are some
trade-offs for that, but if you want total control, or you just want to
learn more about how Linux works "under the hood", then Slackware would
be a good place to look for answers. We've recently released version
13.0 with official x86_64 architecture support and are gearing up for
the next edition of -current. If you think you're interested, you can
download the isos from a local mirror, download the entire repo via FTP
or rsync and build your own isos, or grab them via bittorrent.

Alan, Thank you so much for sharing you time and talent and letting people get a glimpse into who you are and what you do in the FOSS community. I appreciate your time and looking forward to seeing you in the future whether SELF, IRC or some other FOSS community event.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Personalities Behind the Fests

Over the past few months I have had a chance to participate and help in a number of Linux events. The thing I noticed is the hard work and dedication that goes into pulling one of the events off.

Attended these events:

* Community Leadership Summit
* Southeast Linux Fest
* Atlanta Linux Fest
* Ohio Linux Fest

Spoke to the organizers of:

* Ontario Linux Fest
* LinuxFest Northwest

Absolutely amazing people. Having helped with the Atlanta Linux Fest I personally know how little sleep, how many hours of free time you give up, and the dedication to the event it takes. I wouldn't trade it as the end results far outweighs the nap I can take at a later date. I guess what I am saying is all the organizers for these events put in a lot of blood, sweat and yes at times tears to pull it all off and make an event great for the attendees.

I have decided to interview the personalities behind these events. So keep your eyes open as I kick off the Personalities behind the Linux Fests.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to let me interview you and let people glimpse into your lives. If you are working on or have worked on one of the events listed above and I haven't talked to you, found you on IRC or emailed you yet please drop me a line at akgraner [a t] Can't wait to talk to you! You all are awesome, can't wait to see what 2010 brings to the Linux circuit.

Ubuntu LoCo Teams at Ohio Linux Fest

What a great feeling it is to go to an event such as the Ohio Linux Fest and meet other LoCo Team members. It's AWESOME to attend events, share ideas, laughs, and enthusiasm for Ubuntu. It's so cool to know we are all part of the greater Ubuntu community and no one feels like a stranger but one big family!

Here is one of the pictures from Ohio Linux Fest. As you can see it was a great time to be had by all.

(Ohio, Michigan, DC, NC LoCo teams)
(please let me know if I missed a team I hope not)

Picture taken by Brad McMahon of the Michigan LoCo team! Thanks Brad!!!

Ubuntu Open Week - November 2-6, 2009

Hey it's that time again. Karmic release is just around the corner (Oct 29th) and following that comes Ubuntu Open Week (November 2-6, 2009).
I learned so much participating in Open Week for Jaunty and I am sure Karmic Open Week will blow me away as well, but only if people participate. :-)

KARMIC OPEN WEEK NEEDS YOU! Wanna facilitate a session on triaging bugs, Maintaining Documentation, Packaging, How about the basics of wiki markups (don't cringe, wiki's are our friend,right?), Desktop, Community, Mobile, Server, Kernel and much, much, more. Use your imagination and let's make this Rock! Everyone has something to share. Join in on the fun.
Thank you to those who have already signed up! Nudge your friends and encourage them join in. Suggest some sessions even if you can't facilitate them. Add them to the prep wiki.

Some of you have already received emails and IRC pings from me and/or Jorge Castro. The fun doesn't stop there - We're still looking for more people. So if I pop up and say "Hi" followed by "it's that time again", please see what you can do to help.

For more information see Jorge Castro's email here.

Thanks in advance everyone and I can't wait to see everyone facilitating and participating in each session. I really appreciate everyone who gives of your time and talent to make the event such an amazing learning and community team building opportunity. Let's make this open week another AWESOME event!!