Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Michael Kanasoot, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
The world is at a tipping point where the technology, the device and global adoption are converging to such a point that we will see an explosion of a world where smartphone devices not only allow us to talk to each other, but allow for communication between everything – serving as a central hub from which we control our world – MediaTek is at the heart of both driving this and allowing the markets to drive this reality forward themselves. The next wave of consumer gadgets is here – smart, connected, and small. If your ambitions are big, so are ours. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jack Hu, D...
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Collecting data in the field and configuring multitudes of unique devices is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that can stretch IT resources. Horan & Bird [H&B], Australia’s fifth-largest Solar Panel Installer, wanted to automate sensor data collection and monitoring from its solar panels and integrate the data with its business and marketing systems. After data was collected and structured, two major areas needed to be addressed: improving developer workflows and extending access to a business application to multiple users (multi-tenancy). Docker, a container technology, was used to ...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.