Also known as Timothy A. LeP├ęs

Email: <luvdownbabylon AT SPAMFREE gmail DOT com>

I do not understand the markup for the email address here. It says "AT SPAMFREE" in the markup where the "@" sign appears in the displayed page, but it still looks to me just like my regular plain old email address without any obfuscation. So please, please, please don't spam my email. I love to chat with folks but I don't need any viagra, shady nigerian bank transfers, or hot stock tips today (or ever!)...

Welcome to my Ubuntu Wiki Homepage! I guess I should tell you something about myself:

I have been an Ubuntu user since shortly before the Warty release. No dual-boot. No regrets. I have been very happy to have ditched Windows on my desktop. I settled quickly on Ubuntu. I first tried Mandrake (now Mandriva) for a month or two, but quickly decided I didn't like "RPM Hell", as it was (is?) called. Maybe things are better in the red-capped wing these days, I can't say. Looking for an alternative I immediately gravitated toward Debian for it's package management, the praises of which were sung from many an internet mountaintop. Debian looked good, but this "polished" version I heard about called Ubuntu sounded enticing so I gave it a spin and never looked back. Besides the package management, the "spirit" of Debian appealed to my neo-hippy sensibilities. So learning about the meaning behind the word "ubuntu" had instant appeal as well. And I think that it is brilliant. The meaning implied by the name brings with it a friendliness and welcoming attitude that I believe has truly taken root with the community that has grown up around the distribution. I see the name as a sort of neuro-linguistic program and that makes me smile.

I am presently running Ubuntu Studio 7.10 64bit on AMD dual-core hardware. My computer is self-built. Today, in fact, I am about to install the Ubuntu Studio 8.04 Release Candidate on a clean partition. Chances are I won't switch back. But I like doing it this way. I like to keep my old install on a separate partition in case anything goes seriously awry. Truthfully I have not had the OS blow up on me but I have had the root partition rendered useless after a hard disk power cable mishap while the system was running. Sure, SATA drives are hot-swappable. But that does not mean navigating the cables might not get you into trouble with another drive that is not so hot to swap. Alternate boot partitions are handy, though not strictly necessary.

My computer experience reaches back over 25 years. I became enamored of them after seeing an original Apple II computer with green-screen monitor back in the 5th grade ('78-ish), and pestered my parents for the next several years. They thought I was insane, at first. Then my dad got interested himself and come Christmas '82 we got a Commodore 64. Diving right in, our family ran a computer store from '83 to '89. I learned a lot about computers over the course of that time, and got to see how a business operated, to some extent. My family also became involved with the Gateway Computer Club in the Saint Louis "Metro-East" area (that's the Illinois side of the Mississippi). Collinsville, Illinois to be precise. It was an interesting experience. I learned a little about governance and by-laws and such from the club's formation and meetings. And of course there was technology to play with or see up close. I also remember the side-room swap-fests (read: software pirating) that the grown-ups were having.

I must have read every issue of Byte magazine that came out in the 80's from cover to cover, and it was my habit to hole up in my room reading a handful of magazines once every month in the same fashion. But for some strange reason I seemed to like starting at the end and flipping backwards through the magazine. I've always had an appetite for reading. I even used to read Dr. Dobbs and DBA magazines even though I was not a C programmer or a DBA. And I remember reading about the "Lorraine" and then Amiga. And all the drama with Commodore, Atari, Amiga, and Jack Tramiel or whatever his name was. Over this time period I was also paying my own part of the phone bill, prefixing the MCI access code so my BBS adventures would show up on the bill separately from the regular AT&T long distance charges. Being an avid reader of Byte I also got myself an account on BIX. I was learning about the existence of things like Unix and the Internet, though they were part of another world it seemed.

When the Amiga 1000 came out we got one, and I was in my own computer heaven. I was a huge fan of the Amiga computers, and learned so much from them. My interest in Unix systems goes way back to those Amiga days, and I was so excited to find local dial-up numbers into a free Unix account on some machine, some where. Of course I didn't have the first clue how to use it, though I did figure out a little about the mail reader. I had hoped to find my way on to the USENET but alas I was not successful. I looked forward to when I could go to university and take computer science courses. Unfortunately that was not to be, as I worked at the family business and it went bankrupt about the time I was ready to start college. Instead, I just found another computer store to work for, and eventually started moonlighting for a software company that did pharmacy computer systems. That was my first technical support job, circa 1991.

After that it was one IT support job after another until I wound up doing 2nd and 3rd tier support. Yadda yadda. Suffice it to say that I had an interest in Unix-y things for a long, long time. But I found myself in a Microsoft Windows world. I had some exposure to NetWare, of course, and a little bit of Solaris, a touch of VMS, and plenty of networking. Windows peer networking has always sucked, for lack of a better vocabulary to express my feelings. At least in the NT world it was a little more sane, what with domain controllers and all. Working for a company that did real-time stock market data and news feeds with back-end analysis all pushed out over a global private TCP/IP network, with less than a second from a stock trade 'till the info was updated on the traders' screens was a fantastic learning experience. Of course I also learned about cut-throat corporate politics. The place was, in the end, down right creepy. But awesome technology. In hindsight I wonder why they used NT for certain parts of their systems when Unix might have been a better choice. Well I guess I don't know if the likes of Solaris and kin could be stripped down to the bare bones necessary to do the task at hand with little overhead or bloat the way Linux can these days. Couldn't say. Seems they were a PDP/11 outfit to begin with (still had them functioning for specific roles in their system). And they had Solaris clients too. I learned an awful lot working there, especially about TCP/IP networking.

I had some other jobs that were also very educational, but none that offered me any real OS experience outside of the Windows family. In fact, almost all my Windows experience has been with the NT line. I had of course worked with DOS and Windows 3.1 and 3.11, but even then was also working with 3.x NT. I remember liking Windows 95 when it first came out. I was happy for a time with the Windows world, at least in my work life. Though that would not last. I dabbled in programming Visual Basic, COBOL (PC), Turbo Pascal, and even (Gawk!) GWBASIC. I had some exposure to other operating systems. A friend was into OS/2 Warp, and I thought it was impressive. And I had heard of Linux, but it still seemed intimidating having remembered my utter loss when I finally had a chance to have my own Unix shell in the past, albeit dial-in. I plugged on in my IT career doing support in the corporate NT market until I was sick to death of it and bailed on it all... I guess they really couldn't pay me enough to put up with the frustrations in supporting proprietary systems with non-responsive or down-right inept vendor support. There was that, and I was on a voluntary simplicity kick of sorts. So I just up and left the field. My work with computers had consumed my life, and not a bit of it was fun anymore. Screw the salary. I'd take some time to figure something else out that I might at least half-way enjoy.

Well it was not computers or technology that were uninteresting to me. But the world of Windows certainly was. That, and the insanity that is corporate culture. There are plenty of flavors, and I got to experience some nicer places to work. But they were all ridiculously insane. Worse... the corporate machine can be pathological. I've seen fractions of a penny and two-second deltas on worker production weighed against people's health and safety. Guess what lost? People. I worked for a pharmacy benefit management company that ran a mail order pharmacy, and saw some behavior that to this day makes me very angry. I could rant for a long time about that experience, but I'll save you the bother.

So get this... all this time, years on end, I worked with computers every single day, day in and day out, but never owned one of my very own. Even the Amiga that I lived in front of was my family's PC. There were a couple times I had a PC at home that belonged to the company I worked for, and I had it so that I could do work-related things. Never my own.

So having left the IT treadmill for a time I returned to my roots. I became a computer hobbyist. I built myself a computer, and deemed to put Linux on it as my exclusive operating system. I would learn about stuff that really interested me, and hopefully will be able to leverage that knowledge - along with my 12-plus years experience in the Windows IT support world, into finding a path back into IT on the *nix side of the fence. And I am happy to build bridges and gateways between those worlds. Interoperability is cool to me. As is the notion of supporting things that you can see inside of. Supporting "black box" software is NOT fun, in the end. You don't learn anything. You can't really fix it, since you can't get inside the box. And the companies are loathe to let you truly understand it, lest you pin the problem on them and make them have to do a patch. They have, in my experience, been very resistant to owning up to bugs. Especially Microsoft. I never hated them out-right until I had to support MS Exchange Server 2000. That product was, after all, the last straw for me. Another rant I'll spare you.

Needless to say, I am extremely happy with my GNU/Linux desktop system. Likewise my distribution of choice. I have had the chance to play with making a home server / router, running a web server, ssh, caching proxy servers, a tor server (I dabbled with freenet too but didn't have much luck), cryptography, a little development project on a small low power consumption PowerPC SoC device called the EFIKA from Genesi, firewalls, various Linux configuration issues, X-Windows, VNC, remote PXE booting, DHCP, FTP, and TFTP servers, and on and on. My next project is a Myth box. And I am toying with the idea of building a Linux From Scratch system for the learning experience. I like GNU/Linux. No. I love it! Computers are fun again. Thank you!!!

  • - Tim


If anyone in the Nashville, Tennessee area knows of someone looking for an experienced IT support person that has Windows experience as well as familiarity with Linux, or a Jr. Linux IT or Admin position, I am looking for work. I am also fairly well experienced with TCP/IP networking. Mixed shops are fine, but I am not really wanting to go back to a Windows-only shop. I will, mind you, but my eye will be on paying for Linux certs and eventually moving on. The more Linux I get to play with the better. And the more interesting things I get to play with, like LTSP or Asterisk, the better. I also have a strong interest in working with kids and technology. Something like a school district that was open to Linux would be a fantastic job for me, I think. As far as corporate culture goes, well, I've come do discover that it is a ubiquitous sort of insanity of the sort that most people are blissfully unaware. I can deal with it fine so long as I have something I can care about to keep me occupied. Vista sure isn't gonna do that for me. At any rate, contact me. Any work is good work when you have none Smile :)


TimLePes (last edited 2008-08-06 16:34:37 by localhost)