Interview: Roland Taylor

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Nathan Osman
published July 21, 2013, 4:30 p.m.

Today marks the start of a new series that we will be doing here on 2buntu. We have decided to interview a number of our editors and prominent Ubuntu community users. We submit a list of questions to them, they fill in the answers, and then we publish the results here. Our goal is to introduce readers to some new faces and give some of the community members recognition for their amazing contributions.

For our first interview, we will be asking Roland Taylor ten questions. Naturally, Roland was selected first because of his heavy involvement with the blog itself.

How long have you been using Ubuntu?

I started using Ubuntu around 7.10. My first experience was a Xubuntu 7.10 beta CD (I may still have it somewhere around the house), and I never looked back after that. It was the first time I used Linux that I actually understood what I was doing, with no prior experience on XFCE.

Before that, I had played DSL and a Chinese distro called CoCreateOS (which looked and acted somewhat like Windows, and was terrible!).

So, in a nutshell, I've been using Ubuntu for about 6 years.

What initially prompted you to start 2buntu?

I believe it was a conversation with James Gifford that got me going, but it was something on my mind for some time. I had run a community news outlet before, but it never took off, and it wasn't about opensource software. After I started using Ubuntu, things changed. I wanted somewhere to both vent and share what's new. Hence, the concept for 2buntu was born. After that pivotal conversation, I hopped on over to and got started!

Name some open-source projects you have been involved in and describe what your involvement included.

Truth be told, I haven't contributed code to any open source projects within my memory (except for my own, uncompleted forays into [insert-random-app-here] development :).

Mainly, I've done bug reporting and a little bit of documentation here and there, and I've been active on Ask Ubuntu for quite some time. I've also attempted to contribute 3D models to a game (that didn't go well due to bureaucracy, which I hate), and have created train models for OpenTracks by Nathan Osman (though I don't think they were added lol).

In the future, as I gain more coding confidence, I plan to make good on my planned contributions to open source applications, which shall remain nameless for now :)

You have used a number of different desktop environments over the years - which is your current favorite and why?

Pantheon. Well, it would be Unity or KDE, but I don't have the kind of hardware I want to enjoy KDE on, and certain design cues of Qt annoy me. Unity performs poorly on my system so it's fallen out of favour with me.

Pantheon just works, and that's super-important to me.

Enlightenment is another of my loves, but I sometimes get annoyed with its quirks and some of the differences it has (for no reason).

Do you think that the decision to switch to Mir instead of sticking with X or using Wayland/Weston was a wise move?

Yes and no. Good move, bad timing, bad execution. I will be covering this in an extensive post in the future.

Do you feel that hardware vendors have done enough to ensure that their equipment works well on Linux?

Most definitely not! In fact I am of the opinion that they deliberately drag their feet and or do nothing to support Linux. Case in point, AMD. They dropped support for their older graphics cards, knowing full well that they would take forever (at random intervals) to update their legacy driver to support new versions of the X server and kernel. They did this knowing full well that the Open Source drivers are in no position to support older cards well enough to be an adequate replacement.

Are there a certain group of Ubuntu applications (such as word processors or video editors, for example) that you would love to see improved?

I'm only allowed to choose one? I would love to see improvements in Office Applications, Video Editors, Video Editors, Video Editors, Video Editors... and did I mention Video Editors? I work with video a lot, and the current state of video editing software on Linux is disappointing. With everything based on MLT, it's frustrating being stuck with the same features over and over. Then there are applications such as Cinellera, that are great... until you try to use them.

I would also love to see some improvements in applications such as Caligra Words, LibreOffice EVERYTHING (they are making very good progress though).

There are many other areas where there is room for improvement in the Linux app world, but for the most part, I'm happy.

In addition to writing articles for 2buntu, you are also a talented science fiction writer - which Ubuntu applications do you use for writing and planning?

Believe it or not, I largely use my head for planning (though that would change if there was a dedicated, professional, open source application for the full writing experience).

For my writing I only use LibreOffice Writer and Caligra Words; though the later is not at a point where I can comfortably use it for larger works and for heavy editing. LibreOffice Writer has just about everything I need (well, it has enough, for now), though the UI can be rather disenchanting if you're on a long haul.

However, once I get deep into writing, the interface becomes a blur lol.

If you could donate $100,000 US to any FOSS project, which one would you choose?

I'm not sure I can choose here. I thought of this question longer than all the others, and I still can't settle on a single application. However, I would probably donate the money to Bluefish, Inkscape, GIMP, Blender, or... (the app) ;)

Where do you see Ubuntu one year from now?

A lot can change in a year, but I honestly don't think that too much will change for Ubuntu in just a year. However, I think with the moves being made on the mobile front, along with the potential for an Ubuntu branded phone or tablet, we could see a massive shift. I predict that Ubuntu will make impressive inroads in the Mobile arena, with some good momentum following; provided that quality remains paramount.
Another thing that I am hoping is that the Ubuntu developers don't persist in the "my way or the highway" mentality that crops up often times. Especially not on the Mobile front. However, I see a change in this direction as well, and I'm holding out hope that Ubuntu will see much more power handed over to the community within a year.

And that concludes the first of our many interviews. The blog wishes to thank Roland for his time and many contributions to this site. Stay tuned for our next interview - hey it just might be you!

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