Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sematext Blog, XebiaLabs Blog

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
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom 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. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...