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Interview with Vilhelm von Ehrenheim
Posted on December 4, 2010 by David Abbott

gentoo

Vilhelm and his team members:

  • Sebastian Hallén
  • Alex Werther
  • Johan Hyldentong

Picked Gentoo to play for and won Robot Fight Night, so $400 US was donated to the Gentoo Foundation to pay for Gentoo Development and Services, etc.

Vilhelm I believe made the suggestion to the others to play for Gentoo and they accepted.

Hi Vilhelm, is that about right?

That's absolutely correct. We got to choose an open source project to fight for and I pitched Gentoo to my friends who gladly accepted.

Thank you very much for your time. Could you please tell us about yourself, where you live, what you do for a living and how you got into Linux and free software?

Of course. At the moment I live in Lund, in the south of Sweden, where I'm studying a master in engineering physics. I got back to my studies about a year ago after working with software packaging and support for a company called Atea.

I first got in to Linux in early 2005 after getting tired of windows. I started out with Fedora and got accustomed to it quite quickly. Later that year, when playing around in my system, I had some problems changing the window manager. My friend Sebastian Hallén, who were more experienced with Linux in general, tried to help me out but quickly told me to change to a more configurable Linux dist like Gentoo. It made sense to me since I wanted to play around and have more control over my system. I asked him if he'd help me with the installation and he promised to sit beside me with a ruler and hit my hands if I did anything stupid. It was more fun than it sounds.

I've tried a few other distros since then but never found anything I liked more than Gentoo.

What is Robot Fight Night?

Robot Fight Night was an event organized by the company tretton37, where they would donate $400 to an open source project of the winning team's choice. My friend and fellow winner Sebastian, who works there, invited me to the event and his team.

The setup was that every team had 30min to program a lethal robot, using the Robocode interface, before the first battle begun. The winner of each fight was the last robot standing. After three fights you got another 30min to improve your code and implement new evil features before the next round started. The same procedure was repeated for the third and fourth round. The fourth, and last round it was 9 fights instead of 3.

Our team's robot managed to win the last three rounds and therefore the whole event.

Of all the Linux distributions out there today, why did you choose Gentoo?

Because of the power and configurability. I love to compile the code of each program installed and make it as lean and fast as possible. No other distro i've tried can compete with that. Gentoo also has a really good and accessible way of handling Linux internals which I really like.

Which open source programs would you like to see developed?

A good latex editor for gtk would be awesome. I haven't found one I'm happy with so far. I just use emacs now, which of course is good for everything, but miss some of the features in Kile. I got tired of having both KDE and Gnome apps installed and cleaned out all the KDE apps.

What resources have you found most helpful when troubleshooting within Gentoo or Linux?

Gentoo forums and bugzilla have lots of answers if you hit a problem of some kind. Otherwise I mostly use Google if I can't find what I'm looking fore there. The gentoo IRC channels can be helpful as well.

What resources have you used to keep up to date with the latest trends in open source software?

Don't really know if I'm that up to date to be honest. I mostly search for what I'm looking for on Google and use portage to check for normal updates. I like installing most things through portage to keep my system as clean as possible. Only if I need a specific feature of some kind that isn't in portage, or an overlay for that matter, I might download the source and compile it manually.

What aspects of Gentoo do you feel the developers and maintainers have got right?

A lot. The Gentoo system fits me really well but I must say portage. I really like it compared to other package maintenance systems I've tried.

What is it about Gentoo you would like to see improved?

.la files can be a bummer sometimes. lafilefixer helps in some cases but some kind of official, documented tool would be nice. Another thing I'd like to see is an improved search function in the forums.

What are some of the projects within Gentoo that you would consider contributing to?

Oh, I don't know. From what I've understood the usual start is fixing bugs and writing ebuilds, so that would probably be a good start. I have a bit of a bad conscience that I don't at the moment.

Have you ever considered becoming a Gentoo Developer?

I really have. I guess I should start out fixing bugs and writing ebuilds though.

Have you been involved with any other open source projects?

No unfortunately not. I've only written some stuff on my own.

What programming do you enjoy?

I like solving problems. I really like figuring out and implementing algorithms for small but hard problems.

What are you currently working on, studying or learning?

At the moment my project is learning Haskell. I hope I can put some more time on it after this semester.

Your "can do" attitude is refreshing, how was it developed?

Well to be honest I've always thought I can do whatever I want if I put my head into it and I'm following that path.

What can Gentoo do to help bring the Gentoo community closer together?

I don't know, we really have a good forum.

What are some of the first programs you install on a new Gentoo box?

On a normal desktop I would say emacs, irssi, mplayer, firefox, Gimp, gkrellm. That is the most essential ones i think, after system related stuff.

What is something you do not look forward too with a new Gentoo install?

I would say X. It always needs some work for some reason.

How do you keep your box up to date?

I do some scheduled tasks with bash scripts to keep portage, overlays and eix up to date and run manual emerge -auDNv world when I can.

How do you keep your box backed up?

I don't back up that much. I do some small backups in cron jobs and keep most of my stuff on other disks.

Describe you boxes and your home network.

I have one multi purpose workstation/server, one smaller web server and one laptop. I also have three of my friends computers in my apartment at the moment in some kind of never ending lan.




Page updated December 4, 2010

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