The Foresight Linux Project
Interview with Ken VanDine
Pro-Linux: Ken, could you please introduce your personal background to our readers on Pro-Linux?
Ken VanDine: I have been an avid Linux Professional/OSS Supporter for over 11 years, with experience managing small linux shops as well as very large, fortune 50 Linux implentations. I have experienced the short comings in Linux systems management and I have a dream to create a system that scales from the average single installation at home to the corporate installation of 30,000 systems.
PL: When did you start noticing free and open Software? What is your personal history in FOSS projects so far?
KV: 1994 I found Linux, or it found me. And I have had a passion for FOSS ever since. I have contributed in a number of ways over the years. Years of mailing list participation and testing. Also contributed to a number of projects, most recognizable being MythTV.
PL: Could you please describe your present role in Foresight Linux project?
KV: I am project founder/manager. The project is very community focused and has gotta quite a bit of attention from contributors, which is great. I am coordinating those efforts, trying to facilitate the communications and managing releases.
PL: What is the Mission of the Foresight Linux project? Who is the target audience of the project? Are there target markets for Foresight Linux?
KV: Our mission is to build a desktop distro that is both highly usable by non-linux users (switchers) and fun to use for the more advanced linux users. In doing so, we want to demonstrate the amazing progress that has been made in the GNOME community and show off some of technologies there.
PL: What is different comparing Foresight Linux Distribution to Debian unstable/experimental, Ubuntu or UserLinux? Could you give us an idea about the unique features of Foresight Linux compared to those distros?
KV: Some of the technologies we highlight are considered to be to "bleeding edge" for other distros. We have worked hard to ensure they work! Some of these include mono 1.1.4, beagle, tomboy, f-spot, howl, and conary.
PL: Is there an official supported list of software for Foresight Linux? Are there any far reaching implications by the use of the bleeding edge, available technologies for users of Foresight Linux regarding i.e. required technical skills or stability of the operating system?
KV: There is a list of packages included in the base install available here: http://www.foresightlinux.com/distro/packages.php
There are also many other applications available with a simple conary command:
sudo conary update package
The distro is pretty easy to use for the non-technical user, so not much of a learning curve. We are also working on documentation to make many of the "extra" things easy to do as well. Stability, we are still beta... that being said, I personally feel Foresight is currently as stable as any distro out there.
PL: Foresight Linux seems to be devoted to GNOME, what was the reason for this decision?
KV: I feel that it is too much to deliver a good distro that comes with multiple desktop environments. Others are available with Foresight (I believe in choice), however we are focused on delivering a quality GNOME desktop.
PL: What is the best way to get involved in Foresight Linux project for new users and developers?
KV: Mailing list, wiki, and IRC. We have a pretty active community, and it is really growing. We have a needs for design work, documentation, testing, bug submissions, and packaging. One area we want to really set ourselves apart in is that "cool" effect. Which is really where design comes, we would love to have more designer type folks contribute all the nice little polish type stuff. Really make the desktop look great! Presentation is important.
PL: When I first hit the project website I was kind of puzzled to see it was hosted on a ".com" address. That seemed to be slightly uncommon to me, most upcoming FOSS projects are hosted by .org or sourceforge/savannah addresses? Would you mind to comment on this?
KV: Foresightlinux.com also lives at foresightlinux.org and .net. This is purely a branding decision, easier for our audience to find us.
PL: Is there something you would like to tell the Pro-Linux readers about Foresight Linux project?
KV: Try it, you'll like it! I am excited to say, that even tho we are calling our current release a Beta, we have had great feedback. We are also very excited about working with new contributors. Everyone can help, we aren't just looking for power users to help out. A key element for us is usablilty for both power users and beginners. I call this the grandma test. I would like usability to get to the point that grandma could login and do the tasks she needs to and be happy with it. Yet, still have the advanced, tweak everything, user login and do the things they need/enjoy doing. No matter where you fit in that spectrum, we want your feedback.
PL: Ken, many thanks for participating in this (virtual) interview and all the best for the Foresight Linux project!