Interview with Benjamin Humphrey of the Ubuntu Manual Team

I’ve been using Ubuntu for quite a while and I have to admit, I was surprised and elated to know that a manual project for Ubuntu has been created. And I am very proud to inform everyone that I was able to have a short but sweet email interview with Benjamin Humphrey, Team Lead for the Ubuntu Manual Project.

benjamin-humphrey

Read on for the interview details.

Romar: Could you tell us in a few words, who is Benjamin Humphrey?

Benjamin: Well, basically, I’m a 19 year old student studying Computer Science at Otago University, in Dunedin, New Zealand. I’m involved in a few projects, the Ubuntu Manual Project[1] where I am team lead, the Ayatana project[2] and Lunar Numbat.[3] Away from the computer I like to listen to music, I play drums, trumpet and guitar, I take photographs and I have my Private Pilots Licence. I’ve been using Ubuntu for just over a year since Intrepid and have been actively contributing for about 5 months since I founded the Ubuntu Manual Project.

Romar: How are your Ubuntu skills so far?

Benjamin: While I’m not the world’s most knowledgeable person on Linux/Ubuntu, I’ve picked up a lot by diving into projects head first and have met some great people. It’s a very fun project to be involved in, and I can’t wait to see what’s instore for the future. Ubuntu provides a wealth of opportunities and volunteering your time is a very rewarding experience. I would encourage everyone who uses Ubuntu to get on IRC and in the forums to provide support and experience. Even simply advocating Ubuntu by posting about it on your blog or writing a review of the latest release is an excellent way to increase Ubuntu’s profile in the mainstream.

Romar: Ubuntu is rapidly gaining foothold, in the Linux space. With the upcoming release of Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, do you think it’s about right that we have the manual now?

Benjamin: I’ve been using Ubuntu 10.04 since alpha and it’s fantastic. There have been some controversial decisions like any major piece of software, and a lot of new features and improvements. It’s an excellent operating system and will definitely go a long way to fixing bug #1. I think it’s important that we offer help and support in a variety of formats, while still maintaining consistency and a high standard. I believe what the Documentation Team have done is a good start, but like all projects, their work could be improved and we are hopefully going to work closely with them in the future to ensure the best support experience for the users. I think a manual like this could have been written a long time ago, it’s a large undertaking but thanks to the efforts of many awesome folks in our team we’ve managed to pull it off. Also, our download statistics from this release suggest it’s very popular – we’ve had over 7,000 downloads in only 8 hours since release. Kudos all round!

Romar: When did you start the Ubuntu Manual project, and why?

Benjamin: I started it in December, 2009 so it’s still a very young project. I think the manual will help a lot of people who prefer a “book” for support, and I know the translated versions will help a lot of people in countries where English isn’t spoken. I think that Ubuntu is awesome, but we need to advocate it more and provide more support to compete with Apple and Microsoft so when we get users to make the switch, they stay. I also believe that open source projects could improve the way they attract contributors and efficiently produce work, and the Ubuntu Manual Team sets the standard for open source collaboration – we make quality products in a very short amount of time, with dozens of volunteers helping out.

Romar: Who can get involved in this project, and how?

Benjamin: We are really lucky to be able to provide for a wide range of skill sets. When people think about a book, it’s logical to assume we only need authors and editors. This isn’t correct, we need authors, editors, designers, programmers, translators, you name it. Our project is quite large, and with subsidiary projects such as Quickshot[4], we can cater for almost everyone. The best place to start is on our website[5] where we have simple instructions on how to get started as a member of our team. If you’re still not sure or having difficulty deciding where you could slot in, join us in #ubuntu-manual on irc.freenode.net or email the mailing list, ubuntu-manual@lists.launchpad.net.

Romar: Do you have any other message you’d like to give to Ubuntu users and readers out there?

Benjamin: We need more translators! We have the goal of producing the manual in dozens of languages and we ALWAYS need more help on this front. If you speak English and another language, see here[6] for instructions on how you can help.

Romar: We would like to wish you and the rest of the Ubuntu Manual team the best of luck. We are definitely looking forward for more developments soon.

Much thanks to Benjamin Humphrey for granting us this interview, and our best of lucks to the Ubuntu Manual Team.

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