Behind The Scenes: Travisn000

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

In the continuing "Behind The Scenes" series, we get the chance this month to learn more about Travisn000, a global moderator on the PCLinuxOS forum. Travis is also a key player behind the PCLinuxOS Wiki, and an active PCLinuxOS developer and packager.


Would you please introduce yourself ("real name," age, location of residence, marital status, children, etc.)?

On the PCLinuxOS forums my "name" is travisn000... in real life, my name is still Travis N! I am 35 years old, married for the last 8 or so, and have three kids. I would tell you more, but I would be breaking the rules I set for them! (they have been given strict training to not divulge personally identifiable information on the internet ;) )

When did you first get started with computers, and what OS did you start out with?

My first introduction to computers was on an early Apple (IIe ... I think). Because I didn't join the school music program like most kids would in the school at that time, I spend band class in the new computer lab. I think I was in 4th or 5th grade. Mostly what I remember about it was the sense of accomplishment I got by drawing things with the "turtle" on that old black and green screen. At about the same time my step-father brought home a computer that looked like an old suitcase with a 7" screen, and soon after I started middle school in a brand new school with the latest first gen Mac. I don't think too many days went by that I didn't get to school before the computer lab opened at 6:30am.

When did you make the switch to Linux, and which distro did you start with?

I started using Linux after getting interested in building a Home Theater PC (HTPC). I had come across a few articles about MythTV and decided to give it a try. After a lot of reading, and becoming more familiar with the concept of "free" software, I decided Fedora was the right distro for me. I recall downloading Fedora 3, only to see Fedora 4 was coming soon (early 2005). Fedora 4 was the first distro I installed for any significant use; it became the base for my first MythTV setup.


When did you make PCLinuxOS your home distro, and what attracted you?

My first introduction to PCLinuxOS came about a year later. I had gotten more comfortable with Linux and had started tweaking my Fedora/MythTV box, eventually tweaking it to the point where I could no longer get it to boot (oops!). I tried installing the latest Fedora and MythTV but could never get it set up and working quite right. I played with a handful of "live" distro's, including PCLinuxOS 0.93, but for a variety of reasons did not install any of them. When I came back to Linux, PCLinuxOS 2007 was newly released and I was hooked! I think it was the first distro I found that did not require endless hours to get a basic working desktop set up, and I loved the control center. I haven't left since.

Do you currently run any other OS's or Linux distro's? If so, which ones?

The only other distro that has made it on my hard drive for more that a few days is the Arch based Chakra Project ( For me it, is the only Desktop experience that comes close to the combination of simplicity, flexibility, power and speed that PCLinuxOS offers.

As a global moderator in the PCLinuxOS forum, what do you view as being the most important aspect of your role? What is the most challenging aspect of your job as global moderator? The most rewarding?

To be quite honest, I am kind of a slacker when it comes to moderating the forums. We are blessed to have one of the best communities on the internet, and because of this, it seems the need for moderation is quite rare. For the most, part my authority as a moderator is used mainly for moving, combining, and generally helping keep things organized. The thing I find most rewarding in my activities on the forums is really just the everyday aspects of helping people to make PCLinuxOS their favored desktop OS. By this, I mean those things that most all members of the community try to do: welcome new members and help them get comfortable, trouble shoot problems and post solutions/tips, etc.

Besides being a global moderator in the main PCLinuxOS forum, you are also involved with the PCLinuxOS Wiki. What has been the greatest challenge in getting the Wiki site going?

PCLinuxOS has been through a few wiki sites in last couple of years. Most of them met their demise as a result of poor organization, making them difficult to use. Because of this, a handful of members at agreed to try and rebuild it once again and make it more usable; we wanted it to better reflect this great distro. At the time, I knew very little about using/making a good wiki. There was a consensus on the forum to use MediaWiki as the base and Cindy (aka Linuxera) set it up on one of her servers. As most every one seemed to have very little extra time (including myself) to devote to the project, I took it upon myself to get the basic framework for the site set up. I wanted to have a good framework that others could build upon.

How can regular users best contribute to the PCLinuxOS Wiki?

The best way that users can contribute to the wiki is to jump in with both feet! Signing up is easy: visit the wiki and click the "create an account" link at the top of the page. The wiki is set up so that any registered user can add or edit content. I think that if people from the community took a little extra time to document the steps they use in setting up various aspects of their installation and posted them to the wiki in appropriate places, we would soon have a wiki that rivals the biggest and best.

There is also much work to be done in translating the existing wiki content into other languages. Angel02_de has been working hard at adding German translations, while Nakux, Melodie, and Arl have been making great strides on French translations and content.

I do my best to make myself available to help those that need it. Send me a PM on the main forums if you need help getting started or have any questions. The Help section of the wiki also has links and information to help people get started.

Currently, what are the largest needs on the PCLinuxOS Wiki?

Wiki's are all about content. While we have a pretty good base of content going, more would be better. It would be nice to see users begin to document the steps they take to accomplish various tasks when setting up their computers. I will be trying to add, revise, and complete a few how-to topics on the wiki as I go about reinstalling with the 2010 release; perhaps it will be a good time for others to do the same?


You are also quite involved with the Advanced Users section of the forum, lending your hand to helping provide GTK+ Dialog graphical interfaces to command line scripts. What advice can you give to others who may want to learn these topics or help with providing GTK+ Dialog graphical interfaces?

Most of what I have learned about writing scripts I have learned from trial and error (and reading other existing scripts). My advice would be to just jump in. Spend time trying things out on the command line; if you have questions don't hesitate asking. Zenity is a great tool for adding basic dialog boxes to shell scripts, and there are a many good tutorials on how to use it. I think many of my scripts begin with just testing command and their options in konsole; I try to share and preserve the knowledge I gain by posting in the forums and/or wiki. Google is a great resource as well.

You are also quite involved with PCLinuxOS packaging. What advice can you give to others who may want to learn packaging, and help with the development of PCLinuxOS?

Packaging software for the repo can be alot of fun. Some software can be very challenging, while others are quite easy. Currently we don't have great documentation for PCLinuxOS when it comes to getting started packaging, as the server that had the packager's wiki is gone. Rebuilding it is another project that is on my to do list, but with some of my other personal responsibilities, I'm not sure when I will get around to doing it.

Currently the best choice is probably to browse through the various topics in the packaging section of the main forums, and also take a look at the (archived) santa's helper section in the forums over at Don't hesitate to ask questions, this is a community effort; your questions and answers make us all better at what we do.

How would you best describe your approach to problem-solving? Is it different than the approach to take as a global moderator in the forum? If so, how is it different?

This is a tough question to answer. I don't think I have a standardized approach. If I were to make up an answer to this question, I would say, "Backup first, then analyze the problem; think of all of the things that might be the source of the problem and try to rule them out (or in)." Sometimes this involves a bit of trial and error and a lot of online searches, but it also usually results in great educational experience.

If you had to pick one piece of music that sums up your outlook on life, what would it be?

Don't know... whatever is on the radio works for me!

How much time (per week) do you devote to your job as global moderator, and towards packaging and development in PCLinuxOS?

Again, I don't really know; there are times when I will do nothing but work on PCLinuxOS related things for weekends and many of my evenings, but as my kids are getting to be more active in various activities (and my wife volunteers me for more and more "volunteer" activites! :D), I find I have to be a little more judicious with my time. I still try to contribute what I can when I can, but I find I tend to focus more of my time in places that will enable others to contribute as well.

With the release of PCLinuxOS 2010 just literally right around the corner, what do you view as the biggest challenges facing users?

I'm sure there will be a few long time KDE 3.x users that will be reluctant to move on to KDE4, and there will also be users that are challenged by the process of re-installation and preserving various aspects of their setup. Luckily, PCLinuxOS has a great community of people that will help out those that ask for it. In the end, I think most will look back at the transition and find that it was not so bad as the fears and concerns that we might currently have in anticipation of it.

What words of wisdom would you like to leave us with?

Be nice, have fun, and enjoy the journey! And keep a good back-up or two!