An Interview With Paultag

I have a feeling that not so many of you will have heard of Paultag, unless you’re on the Ubuntu Beginners Team, or the Ohio LoCo. But I’ve experienced Paul’s commitment to Ubuntu, and he’s always willing to help out…which is good, because I find myself asking him things surprisingly often ':)' He has some awesome programming projects, but I won’t give them away, I’m not sure if I’m meant to! So before I dig an even bigger hole – I give you Paultag!

1. Tell as much as you’re willing about your “real life” like name, age, gender, location, family, religion, profession, education, hobbies, etc.

I’m Paul Tagliamonte, a 20 years young hacker. I live in Ohio, Boston native, working on my undergrad in Turology. That’s Computer Science to the less hip. My favorite hobby really boils down to writing software that looks good, functions good, and gets out of the way. Other then that, I love playing Bass Guitar, music in general and skiing. If I had to plug top three favorite bands ( and I will ), I’d have to say Air, Tycho and Black Moth Super Rainbow.

2. When and how did you become interested in computers? in Linux? in Ubuntu?

Sheesh. What a question. I’ve always loved computers, there is even a photo of a 5-year-old me typing on a DOS terminal ( don’t tell anyone! ), with my feet not even hanging off the end of the chair in a shoebox somewhere. I got into linux when my Mother brought me home some Mandrake GNU/Linux 8.1 CDs in 2001. For those keeping track at home, I was in middle school. I stuck with Mandrake through 9.1, 10.1, and 2006. During that time I switched to Debian GNU/Linux 3, and switched totally over to Debian at 4. Along the way I threw Ubuntu, Gentoo and CentOS into the mix. When I got out of High School in 2007, I installed Ubuntu on my brand new laptop, because, well it just worked right out of the box. It all went downhill from there!

3. When did you become involved in the forums (or the Ubuntu community)? What’s your role there?

It took me about a year to try to venture into the Ubuntu community. I had tried to get into the Debian community, and really found it harsh and unaccepting. I kicked off into the Ubuntu Forums, and “felt the love”. I got hooked within the first day, and really started to get exited. I messaged ( the great ) bodhi_zazen about working with the UBT ( although then it was the Ubuntu Forums Beginners Team ), about 10 guys strong at the time. I found them to be a bunch of really down-to-earth guys. Not much has changed accept the name ( Ubuntu Beginners Team now! ), and the member count. In 2009, I took over as Ohio Team Contact, following in the footsteps of vorian and jacob. I love working with my LoCo, we have a really strong community, and I could not be happier.

4. Are you an Ubuntu member? If so, how do you contribute? If not, do you plan on becoming one?

Sure am. I have been working with the UBT ( Ubuntu Beginners Team ) for over two years now. On the side, I code and I have been starting to sink my teeth into packaging. I picked up rights as an Uploader for Fluxbox in Debian, and I figure I’ll start submitting more patches to both Debian and Ubuntu, and get even more collaboration between Ubuntu and Debian. I am also the Ohio Team Contact, and really love my Local Community, big shout-out to my Ohio brothers and sisters!

5. What distros do you regularly use? What software? What’s your favorite application? Your least favorite?

Well, let’s see here. My primary box ( Loki ) is running Zenix 9.10, Ubuntu 9.10, Kubuntu 9.10, Debian Unstable, Fedora Core 6 and Mandrake 9.1. Long story, I’ll skip over those. My secondary box, Metatron is running Ubuntu 9.10, and has an empty few gigs for an LFS build in a few days. My Book Computer ( Che ) is running Nkrumah, my own little branch of Slax just for that motherboard. ( it’s actually just a motherboard inside a hardcover book, awesome, I know. )

In the past I’ve been known to run Fedora ( although I cut that off at around RC 7 ), Gentoo, Wolvix, and Slackware.

I love mplayer, elinks, gnome-do, and g++.

I don’t like rhythmbox muchly anymore, that plugin system really kills me, same goes for the current build of amaroK, although the old version was one of my loves.

6. What’s your fondest memory from the forums, or from Ubuntu overall? What’s your worst?

I’d say my most treasured memory is the first time I met the folks in #ubuntuforums-beginners ( now #ubuntu-beginners ). It has really stuck with me through the years. Second to that, I’d say seeing my face on Planet Ubuntu for the first time. I can’t say that I have a bad memory in the community, truly a rarity in the F/OSS world.

7. What luck have you had introducing new computer users to Ubuntu?

Amazing is the only word I have to describe it. In fact, my roomates ( a largely non-technical household ) have been able to use Ubuntu on their machines without any problems for a few months now, and even are at the point of diagnosing and working around their own issues. My circle of friends has really embraced it, and that’s not even counting the Computer Science majors! It’s almost not even fair how much Ubuntu sells it’s self as a computing platform.

8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

I’d like to see more efforts in the wider F/OSS field to adopt a CoC ( or analogous document ) to really aid collaboration between projects. It’s always frustrating to meet those people who know their stuff but act pious, and think they are better then everyone else.

With Ubuntu, I’d love to see more upstream work, it’s all too often I hear about Debian Developers who don’t get the Ubuntu patches because the MOTU fear that the DDs hate the them. I’d love to see Ubuntu become a bit more stable, perhaps that’s something we can all start working to achieve as a community. Another idea is to keep new features out of our releases until we are sure they won’t bork machines. We should not loose focus that we are doing really well, and I think we have a model that works. Small corrective actions is what we need, not huge swings of the wheel.

9. If there was one thing you could tell all new Ubuntu users, what would it be?

Pray you don’t have Broadcom, or ATI!

Really though, I would say that there are always bugs, and always issues. Don’t get too caught up with knowing everything, and I know going from going from a power-user to a novice again can be hard, but stick with it. It’s well worth it. Rely on the community, the UBT is always here to help ( </plug> ). Never stop learning, and don’t forget that even a modest know-how is worth it’s weight in gold, so try answering a few questions on the forum!

[Discuss Paultag’s Interview on the Forum]

Originally posted by Joe Barker here on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

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