Profile of a Linux Artist

Ruel Smith

My full real name is Ruel Lloyd Smith, Jr. and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm a plumber by trade and goofball by hobby. I'm not really all that up on Linux in the area that I live in, but a huge Linux convention is held every year right up the road in Columbus, Ohio. I'd assume Linux is relatively in good position in this area. I do run into other Linux users at the local computer stores, so that's a good thing.

Q: How long have you been using a Linux operating system? If any, what Linux distributions have you tried? How can you best compare these other Linux to PCLinuxOS?

I've been using Linux since I first installed Red Hat 5.2, circa 1998. I was very confused at the time, and really didn't catch on until I installed Mandrake 7.0. That was the turning point in my life. Suddenly, Linux was a very viable alternative. Other than these two distros, I've installed Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Debian, Mepis, Sabayon, and my favorite, of course, PCLinuxOS. I've also installed PC-BSD and had unsuccessful attempts at installing FreeBSD and Gentoo. Also I've installed some of the community editions of PCLinuxOS and tried them out. I've been a PCLinuxOS user since 0.92 in 2006. I've been a Texstar fan before that, at a time when he had is own repository of files he compiled for Mandrake.

I found PCLinuxOS when one day I was trying to find out what happened to him in the interim between when I left Mandrake and came back to, now, Mandriva. I think the release was at .91 at the time, and I waited before trying it. A few fellow club members at Mandriva raved about this distro, and I finally had to install it. I've never looked back. It's like Texstar put all the elements of my dream distro together.

Each distro I've tried all had something in them that I liked better over another. Red Hat was a very solid distro in its day. I like the Control Center in Mandriva and Suse. Suse and Red Hat seemed to be more polish than the others. Debian and its derivatives use Synaptic/Apt. When I used PCLinuxOS for the first time, it was like Texstar had been where I had and combined all those great elements into one distro.

Choosing Linux is like choosing a car - there is no one-size-fits-all solution. PCLinuxOS just fits for me. But, the one thing that separated this distro from the rest is the community. With all the other communities, I always felt like just another number - a nobody. Here, I felt a sense of being part of the bigger picture. I've never felt the desire to become involved with anything about the distro in any other but PCLinuxOS. There is just this overall sense of wanting to give back. I see all these others doing what they can to contribute and I just had the desire to do the same.

I now use PCLinuxOS 99.9% of my computing time. That's about as Windows-free as I can be.

Q: You have been a long-time member of the PCLinuxOS community, and a forum member since April 18, 2006. What characteristics of users do you like in the forum?

I like people that are willing to help out the next person. That's what community is about. In my opinion, that is what Linux and Open Source is about. We all contribute in our own little ways to make our distros, and Linux in the bigger sense, better.

Q: Have you ever had any experiences in the forum that you didn't like a particular user? If so, why?

I can't point to a single user, but there have been new users that came in and had been argumentative or just can't seem to quite get the rules of the forum. These forum rules are posted clearly and there should be no debate about them. I don't care how another distro runs their forum, the rules are the rules and they've worked thus far to keep the forum a happy place for those who abide by them.

Q: As a prominent member of the PCLinuxOS Beautification Project, how do you find working with other members?

Well, Geminiguy is one of those that I look up to. He and Didouph were there when I first poked my head into the Beautification Project with any intention to do something for it. He encouraged me more than anybody and I really like the work he does. I also have lots of respect for Weric and Tame. I can't say enough about how easy they were to work with. No one had any ego at all. It was just submitting work and speaking our minds freely, but I don't think anyone took any criticism harshly or anything. Personally, I'm just happy if anyone at all enjoys the fruits of my labor. When I started doing it, I never thought anything I did was good enough. I still don't sometimes.

Q: How do you come up with ideas in the form of your contribution to the Beautification?

I get inspiration from everywhere. I look at what Sproggy, Linuzoid, Geminiguy, Weric, Tame, and others have done, as well as browse other sites like I really look toward some of the work many Mac artists put out. That's an artistic bunch if I've ever seen one. The Mac platform tends to draw in those types and the artwork they produce are top notch. I try not to copy anyone, but maybe borrow this element or that element and put a spin on it and do something with it. When we did the initial work for 2009, it was difficult to get inspired under pressure. We had to come up with stuff and we didn't exactly have an infinite amount of time to do it. Under those conditions, it's difficult to just come up with something that "wows" people.

With the work on 2009, for instance, the logo was a product of Tame (who originally designed the official logo from Ludi's contest winning entry), the logo colors were Geminiguy's idea from a wallpaper I had previously done, the ring was reshaded based on something Geminiguy did, and the globe was something Weric provided. I put all those elements together, added some additional graphical pop, and there you have it. I was inspired by the entries they were putting forth and "borrowed" those elements to put something together. We just bounced off each other pretty well.

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