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Kernel Development, Desktops, and Scooby Doo: The Alan Cox Interview

A Connoisseur of Indian Food and Scooby-Doo

  • February 10, 2000
  • By Paul Ferris

Alan Cox is a long-time Linux kernel hacker, Red Hat Software employee, and general all-around great guy. More importantly, he's one of the people that works behind the scenes to make Linux a great product through his relentless efforts in improving and enhancing the Linux kernel--as evidenced by the numerous "ac" monikers after kernel revisions.

Linux Today Editor Paul Ferris caught up with Alan on the LinuxWorld Expo show floor as the show was winding down. Here, Paul and Alan discuss important issues: how free software is making a difference in the world, what vendors are making a difference in the Linux world, why the commercialization of Linux may not make a difference in the larger scheme of things, and how Scrappy Doo didn't make a difference in the Scooby-Doo ethos. For those of you who would like to know what Alan is doing a day-by-day basis, he keeps a diary online at www.uk.linux.org/diary/.

LT: So you spend 10 hours a day doing Linux stuff....Do you enjoy your day pretty much? Do you work at home?

Alan: Yes, I work at home. It's very rare that I'm with the Red Hat people, maybe once a year.

LT: A lot of internal Red Hat discussion probably goes by on your e-mail, so you don't have to deal with it?

Alan: Occasionally it's corporate, but it's not normally an issue. I stay in touch with them all so I know what's going on. I keep an eye on things so I can keep track of where things are going.

LT: What about kids or pets?

Alan: No children, no pets.

LT: Your wife?

Alan: Yes, Telsa.

LT: You like to cook a lot, I take it?

Alan: I have fun cooking [laugh]--it's not necessarily a good thing for the people who have to eat it.

LT: Do you make your own recipes?

Alan: No, I started off because I decided that cooking might actually be something interesting after all. I can vaguely cook now.

LT: What kind of food do you like mostly?

Alan: Oh, Chinese food mostly. One good thing about being in south Wales is that you can get a awful lot of good Indian food.

LT: You like spicy things? Hot stuff?

Alan: Within limits. There's stuff that's sort of hot and spicy and it's nice hot and spicy. And then there's the stuff they serve people who have had 12 pints of beer and are staggering home in the evening.

LT: Where you can't tell how hot it is?

Alan: Which I wouldn't go anywhere near! It's the sort of stuff that's hot to prove how cool you are for being able to eat it.

LT: Switching subjects, I understand you like to watch Scooby Doo.

Alan: Rather a lot, yes.

LT: Every episode?

Alan: The stuff with Scrappy Doo is best avoided, I think. [Ed. note -- Scooby Dum is pretty pointless as well.]

LT: They always get their guy, that's the important thing. You know: "I would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for these meddling kids!"

Alan: [laugh] That's the stuff! Although that particular phrase doesn't occur in very many of them.

LT: I grew up watching that on Saturday-morning cartoons. I'm kind of dating myself there with that.

So things are pretty quiet, then? You have to do a lot of trade-show kind of stuff?

Alan: I'm trying to do a lot less this year. I try to pick more technical stuff, I try to pick more interesting ones. I went to Portugal last year and had a great time in Iceland. That was one that Eric Raymond couldn't make. So I agreed to go with Bruce Perens instead. I was trying to pick different but interesting places.

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