An Interview with Jeremy Garcia of Linuxquestions.org
Tom Adelstein: Jeremy, tell us a little about your personal history - where you grew up, your family and what you like to do.
Jeremy Garcia: Sure. I was born, and currently reside in Buffalo, New York. I attended the University at Buffalo as a "Business" (whatever that means) major and Computer Science minor. For the better part of the last ten years I have worked in ISP/Telecom as a Sys Admin/Network/Security guy. As you may have guessed, I enjoy Linux and Open Source Advocacy. I have quite a few interests outside of computers though, some of which include sports (especially football), fine food/drink, and local history.
TA: How did you get into Linux? Why do you like it so much?
JG: About 10 years ago I started working for an ISP that used UNIX almost exclusively. I really liked the way UNIX worked, it just made a lot of sense to me. It wasn't long before I wanted to try to run something similar at home. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically I guess, the UNIX in use was SCO, so running that at home wasn't really an option due to cost and licensing reasons.
It didn't take too much searching to find Linux though. I headed over to a local book store and purchased The Linux Bible, which I think came with Yggdrasil. I was hooked. Not too much later I purchased a book that came with Slackware. I wonder if I should be expecting a letter from SCOX soon ;) Anyway, as for why I like Linux, I'd say there isn't one definitive reason. As I said earlier, the way it works just makes sense to me. I like to tinker and understand what is going on underneath the surface of things. The fact that I could get a whole OS and poke around was fascinating to me. In fact, it still is. I also liked the community. Coming from the ISP world, you expect a certain amount of sharing of ideas and collaboration. The Linux community was extremely similar in that regard, so it was very comfortable.
TA: Linux Questions is one of those well kept secret success stories journalists like to discover. Tell us how you got started and some history to get everyone up to date.
JG: Around four years ago, I started LinuxQuestions.org as a way to give something back to the Linux community. I had been using Linux for a while at that point and wanted to offer help to existing and potential Linux users. At first the site was small and I was really the only member answering questions. I figured one day the site would have a few hundred members. But, things really started to pick up after a while and I knew I had something special. Before I knew it I had appointed my first moderator and LQ had a small but dedicated following. We now have 20 mods, over 130,000 members and more then 1,100,000 posts.
TA: Whenever I go to the site, you have hundreds of visitors on-line, can you give us some idea of the volume?
JG:These days it's rare for me to see less than 500 concurrent users online, even at 2 AM (EST – I don't sleep much), and we usually have over 1,000 online for most of the business day. In a typical month we will gain about 6,000 new members and receive about 60,000 posts. We're continuing to grow at a very healthy rate, so I can see a time in the near future where less than 1,000 users online will be extremely rare.
TA: In the Linux eco-system, what role does LQ play?
JG:I think more and more we are turning into a comprehensive community-driven resource that can help someone with almost any Linux problem they have, from obtaining Linux at LQ ISO, to getting questions answered in the forums, to seeing if their hardware will work in the HCL. There are still some gaps we need to fill, but we are working on those. As we become more successful, I'm also committed to LQ's involvement in sponsoring and promoting more Linux/Open Source projects and conferences. Additionally, because we are so many users' first introduction to Linux, I think it is our responsibility to try and present things in a way that dispels some of the FUD that is continually floating around while promoting Linux in a way that is consistent with the goals of the Open Source community.
TA: How does a distribution get listed in the forum?
JG:Our guidelines for getting a distribution forum at LQ are straightforward and simple. All a distribution needs to do is have a representative signup for an LQ account and participate in the forum. The number of participants and the level of participation is largely up to the distribution. We currently have over 20 distributions participating and all distributions are welcome. If anyone reading this is associated with a distro that doesn't have an LQ forum and would like one, feel free to contact me and we'll get you setup. We're finding that some distributions are using us as their official forums, which is great. It allows them to have a solid forum-based support channel, while freeing up their time and resources so they can focus on the development of their distribution.
TA: What do you consider your biggest success stories?
JG:We'll often get a post (or I'll get an email directly) from a member saying that they would have given up on Linux if it hadn't been for LQ. To me, it doesn't get much better than that - it's what the site is all about. It's also very encouraging to see members go from asking questions to answering them.
TA: What challenges do you currently face?
JG:Trying to keep 130,000+ members happy can be a challenge at times, but it's a challenge that I wholeheartedly welcome. The site is here for the members and I think it's great that we get so much feedback. To me, the fact that members have such a vested interested in what we do is indicative of the fact that they know their voice is being heard. We also try to continually innovate and add new features to the site, while staying focused on what we do best.
TA: What's the roadmap for LQ?
JG:The most important item for the future, from my point of view, is to stay true to our goals and to continue serving our members. We'll continue to help people learn, use and implement Linux. As the site grows we'll add more functionality, which is something we've already begun doing with sections like the HCL and the reviews sections . We'll also continue to broaden our audience, as seen by the recent addition of a Linux in the Enterprise forum - an area that we traditionally didn't serve. Additionally, we'll expand the number of services we offer members by adding additional sites. So far we've added the LQ Wiki , which allows users to collaboratively build a free, complete and up-to-date Linux knowledgebase and LQ ISO, which allows users to find and rate fast Linux download mirrors. We are always evaluating new ideas and implementing the ones we think will benefit our members. As our resources grow we will also continue to sponsor as many Linux and Open Source projects as we can.
TA: How can someone participate in LQ?
JG:Participation couldn't be easier. A user simply needs to signup for a free account and then they can jump right in. We have a way for everyone to participate, regardless of the user's Linux skill level. In fact, many people are amazed at how quickly they can participate and give something back. Whether it's answering questions, searching for threads with no replies, adding content to the wiki, adding your hardware to the HCL or reviewing your favorite distro - we have plenty for everyone to do. With the addition of our new Articles and Editorials section, we are also now looking for people who are interesting in writing original material.
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