Ladies of PCLinuxOS: silverbirch

by Meemaw

Can you start off by introducing yourself, and telling us a little bit about yourself? (Real name, where you live, marital status, children/grandchildren, hobbies/interests, etc).

Gidday PCLinuxers - I'm Rosemary McGillicuddy, however most of my friends call me Rose, and that's what I prefer, although the majority of my family still call me Rosemary. I moved to Hastings in the Hawkes Bay, commonly known as "The Bay" (New Zealand) a little over five years ago and really enjoy it up here - great climate for the most part, and huge sky. Probably my only regret about moving is that I have a lovely son Kieran who lives in the Wairarapa, about two and a half hours from me, so I don't see him as often as I would like. I divorced in 1995, enjoy my independence, and have a lovely Border Collie called Chip, and moggy called Patra to share my house and garden. I guess I'll have to say I'm interested in computing, and especially Linux! I also enjoy walking/tramping, paper craft work, very amateur photography, listening to music - wish I'd learned to play something, but can manage three chords on the ukelele - gardening, genealogy, food, wine, and anything else that might take my fancy at a given time. At times I've done brief courses on things like computing, herbs, homeopathy, massage, Healing Touch, water colour painting etc. I have attended a few LUG meetings too, but don't go regularly. I'm an avid Googler, and when I got a new cat a few years ago friends suggested her name might be "Google".

How did you get started in computers?

The very first time I think I used a computer was about twenty seven years ago, but all I did was play some games briefly. Later, in about 1995 or so I was sent on a basic computing course as there was talk we would be moving into using computers more at work (I'm a nurse). I was a bit frustrated by the course, as didn't have a machine at home to be practicing on, but was lucky enough that the receptionist would let me have a little "play" at work sometimes. This was Windows of course, and Word I guess. My dates could be a little bit out.

At the end of 1997, my position at work was made redundant, and top of the list for my redundancy money, after paying off some mortgage, was to buy a computer. I was doing a nursing degree by then, after training in the hospital setting many years earlier, and had a little more experience with computers at tech, and realized how wonderful they were! I used a basic Word Processor for the first two years of my degree, and was absolutely "blown away" by the superiority of the computer! It was "state of the art" for the time, with a 2 GB hard drive, 32 Mb memory, and, sorry can't remember the processor. It ran Windows 95. From the beginning I was addicted - both to the computer and also the Internet!

The salesperson included various books to use with Word and so on, but I'm not that good at disciplining myself for self learning, and tended to try things until I managed to do what I wished to. From time to time, I would follow a tutorial from beginning to end, and I learned a huge amount from mailing lists, and IRC channels.

What drew you to Linux?

I read an article in a local magazine called Netguide, and was interested, especially as the magazine had a demo CD of Linux included. I think it was probably Mandriva, but no idea really now. I'd already had Windows 95 fail and lost everything, not being in the "back up" mindset at that time. Linux was different, it offered new learning, it offered some freedom, as I had already begun to realize that every upgrade in Windows required greater resources, and I simply didn't have the money. I also liked the idea of learning a bit more about the computer and how it worked, and being more in control.

What was the first Linux distro that you used?

The first distro I actually used was Mandrake, Mandriva 10, and I was amazed at the support the Mandriva mailing list gave me. They were incredibly patient and tolerant, as I was very green, and struggled a lot, and frequently required step by step instructions.
I also bought "Linux for Dummies" and it came with the Red Hat Distro, but I had various issues with it on that hardware, and never really had it running. Unfortunately I can't remember what and threw away my notes when I moved.
For a while I used Windows 98 for my main computing, but must have been dual booting, as I was also "playing with" Mandriva. During this time, I acquired an old IBM compuer with 500Mhz CPU, 256 memory and 20 G hard drive and used a KVM switch to toggle between machines. I began to experiment in earnest with Linux, and spent many hours in various IRC channels. What did I try, can I remember them all even? Not in any particular order - Mepis, Debian, DSL, Puppy, Knoppix, Mint, Ubuntu, Slackware, Suse, Vectorlinux and many more. In the process I began to learn a little of the command line, and understand something of Linux and computers.
In 2004 I bought a new computer, and initially thought I would forget about Linux. But it doesn't let you go does it, and soon I was playing again, and ended up dual booting PCLinuxOS with Windows XP.

When did you first start using PCLinuxOS? What attracted you?

As above I was trying lots of different flavours, I kind of had this challenge for myself to get older machines runnning. I was given another old machine as well, a 300Mhz CPU. Also Mandriva were having some issues, and lots of the people I knew from the mailing list were off trying other distros, and generally leaving Mandriva. I really liked Vectorlinux for it's speed, but it was incredibly difficult to configure for dial up, and in other ways too (for a newbie). I first heard about PCLinuxOS in IRC #Mandriva (I think someone there there knew Texstar). I went to the website and liked the look of it. It was beta at the time P97, but I installed it anyway. PCLinuxOS has been my main computing ever since. I also introduced it to another IRC friend and he uses it as his main distro too. I still dual boot on one machine, as keep Windows for a few things that I need, but my laptop is standalone PCLOS - up to date as of last night, and my day to day computer.

From the beginning, even in beta state, PCLinuxOS was stable, more stable than some so-called stable releases I had tried. More importantly the community was, and remains, incredibly open to newbies, and very supportive. I'm a KDE user, but still like to experiment occasionally. Now however, my experimentation tends to be with different DEs, rather than different distros. Also PCLinuxOS is so easy to install and use, and does everything I need. As they say, "radically simple" and "it just works".

With Linux having a reputation of being a realm predominately populated by males, do you feel that your being a woman has an impact on your treatment by the rest of the community? If so, in what way?

When using IRC I tried to make sure that I had a non-gender biased nickname, as I noticed that often the comments and help I received were kinder if they knew I was a female. Incidentally - I noticed that there seemed to be a culture in some channels of superiority towards people asking asking so called stupid questions which seemed to be more marked in certain distros. I know that on #LFD some years ago, certain mods who did know I was female were more tolerant of my needing detailed instructions, although I also received my share of RTFM in various channels who seemed to have an elitist attitude.
In real 3D life - I did join the local LUG and attended a few meetings. However I felt out of place as the only female, but also because my knowledge was so limited.

Do you feel that your use of Linux influences the reactions you receive from your computer peers or family? If so, how?

None of my friends muck about on the computer as much as I do. They tend to think I'm way cleverer with computing than what I actually am, as Linux still is mostly unknown among the general population in NZ. One or two call me names, like geek or nerd. They don't believe me when I say PCLinuxOS will do everything they need, and is easier to use, and more secure and stable than Windows! Most of my friends have never even heard of Linux, until I mention it.

How do you feel you contribute to the PCLinuxOS community?

Unfortunately I think I don't contribute to the PCLinuxOS community. I do peruse the forums from time to time, and offer responses to posts if I can, but despite my long association with PCLinuxOS, I don't feel I have the knowledge to be able to offer help. The down side to PCLinuxOS - if you could call it a down side, is that because everything works, and it has GUI interface, that I've lost what little command line knowledge I knew! This reminds me that I need to pop a cheque into the mail, as I've been intending to do!