Point & Click Linux: A conversation with author Robin Miller

Open source Linux has, for many years, been the thorn in the side of Microsoft. But the Linux OS has really only gained significant use as Web servers. The vision has always been that Linux could one day compete head to head with the Windows OS on the home or business desktop and give Microsoft some competition.

To look at the world of Linux, we took a few minutes to talk with Robin Miller, editor-in-chief for Open Source Technology Group, publishers of Slashdot.org, ITManagersJournal.com, NewsForge.com and Linux.com. Robin has written a new book called “Point & Click Linux: Your Guide to Trouble-Free Computing.” The book explains how to simply and cheaply create a powerful Linux Desktop Home PC.

DANA GREENLEE: To me, Linux denotes difficulty. I use Microsoft. Is this book about helping me on my home computer?

ROBIN MILLER: Not on your own computer. You’re a geek person. You use Windows, which is complicated. This is for people who just want their darned computers to work. I don’t even think about my computer. You know, I bet Steve Ballmer thinks about Linux more than I do. He worries about it – and I just use it. I used Windows in the ‘90s and once in awhile I use it again — and I shudder. It’s very complicated, it’s hard, it’s not user-friendly, you always have those viruses and worms and Trojans to mess it up. People hack it.

GREENLEE: What does the book cover?

MILLER: It’s not really a book – it’s a complete Linux migration kit. You’ve got the equivalent of $2,000 of Windows software on the CD.

GREENLEE: What PC can I use?

MILLER: Ah, the one in front of you. I took more screenshots than I wrote words. Its visual – it is more about pointing and clicking.

GREENLEE: There are even thirteen videos in this book.

MILLER: It shows you how to do things. It covers the six basic Linux commands. Okay, these are hard. Take notes, point, click. Got that? Drag and drop, cut and paste. That’s it!

GREENLEE: Why has Slashdot.org been such a success for you guys? What’s the secret behind it?

MILLER: Bad spelling. I know people think it’s a joke. When I was brought in, I was supposed to professionalize it. But I realized very quickly that the fact that Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda and Jeff “Hemos” Bates, who started it, had a casual approach to the English language, which made it more comfortable for programmers and other people who did not necessarily write clear English to join in the conversation. It was non-intimidating. Back then, if you wanted to post on the New York Times forum, you were expected to express yourself clearly and use those semicolons correctly. At Slashdot – no one cared. That’s the truth of the secret — the casual approach and everyone welcomed. We get slammed about the grammar all the time — and we don’t care. It’s heading quickly toward one million registered users and that’s only 10 percent of the people who read it regularly.

The full audio interview with Robin Miller can be heard at http://WebTalkRadio.com.

Dana Greenlee is co-host/producer of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based nationally syndicated radio and webcast show featuring technology news and interviews.

WebTalk Radio is heard locally on KLAY 1180 AM Saturdays 11-Noon and Tuesdays on KVTI 90.9 FM at 10:30 pm as well as online at WebTalkRadio.com.