Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, David Paquette, XebiaLabs Blog, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

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.

More Stories By 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.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Mark Hinkle 02/24/05 11:44:10 PM EST

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

Oversight 02/22/05 07:06:48 AM EST

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

quezztion 02/18/05 09:03:51 AM EST

Anyone listen to Roblimo at LinuxWorld this week?

Willie J Sinclair 02/09/05 08:38:57 PM EST

Hey Rob, How about Ubuntu?

@ThingsExpo Stories
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that China Unicom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE F...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...