27 Jan

Master Spotlight: Paul Sutton

Meet Paul Sutton

1) How did you first get started using Linux? What distros, software or
resources did you use while learning?

Sometime early / mid 90’s. PCW had Slackware with kernel 1.0.9 (yes very early) I guess the hacker in me, was why I wanted to try it out. Back then was before good cdrom support so it was a case of making a boot / root disk, then make floppy disks for each of the various sets of disks needed for install e.g b(base) a(applications) etc. Partition using fdisk, by modern standards we are spoilt now but there is a lot ot be said for knowing what is under the hood. There are lots of books, I had a slackware book with 2.0.30 kernel on the cd, so that helped me too. But have gone through Red Hat, ¬†Debian, Mandrake (now Mandriva)

2) While you were learning Linux, was there anybody (or group of people)
who acted as a mentor to help you?

This was before a local linux user group formed, so there was the local cybercafe and IRC #linux from there, I think Chris Ham and Mike (both who worked there) really helped me get online. I eventually joined the Devon and Cornwall GNU / Linux user group, In fact I am on the first page of the archive, offering to produce a poster to promote the group, It is not much but shows how long I have been on there.

3) What made you want to join Linux Padawan as a master? What do you
hope to gain, personally or professionally, from your involvement?

I think I was invited in by Phillw, as I am involved in ToriOS, and hang out on IRC, I like helping people so this is a way to share knowledge without being judged on if you have qualifications on paper, instead you are judged on how you work within other projects, which is good when you have skills that are not easily quantifiable.

4) How many Padawan are you currently mentoring? What projects are you
helping them get involved with?

Just one, helping with python, he signed up to an online course I think and one task was to write a prime number calculator, I suggested some enhancements to the program, such as adding a routine to check user had entered a number,

5) Linux Padawan is still a relatively new project, but what has your
experience been so far?

Excellent, it is a really good concept, in fact I was reading a forum on LinkedIn where someone asked about learning bash, I suggested Linux padawan as one way of getting help. I am sure there are also resources for bash on the site. I just wish it was easier to convince people that peer learning is very powerful, and that with so much help out there that is to me just as effective as formal teaching.

6) What do you hope to help your Padawans achieve during your mentoring
of them?

If Padawans can learn something new then I have achieved something, even if this is through being signposted to a useful resource. Some times formal teaching can teach you xyz and experience teaches you everything else.

I am not going to aim really high as I don’t feel my knowledge is wide enough, however small things I have picked up from experience such as keeping small routines on hand so you build up a collection for use in bigger programs is useful. So more practical advice as to what helps me, is in fact also useful to others. Knowing where to find information or passing on where I have learnt somethng that has helped me is very useful and can hopefully save people a lot of wasted time.

7) Outside of Linux Padawan, what projects or community are you involved in?

I am documentation lead for ToriOS, I was briefly on the Lubuntu docs team, but Ali got me involved in ToriOS. I found that starting from scratch with ToriOS in the early stages much easier. I also organise and run the local Raspberry Pi jam (Torbay).

8) What advice do you have for new users who are just starting off and
want to learn more about Linux?

Have an open mind and persist, use IRC, and learn how to use pastebin (even if used as guest) and Github. Gooogle is also your friend, and google before asking as some irc channels won’t help you, if you ask in the right way you get help.

If there are local pi jams or other events go along and don’t be afraid to ask / give help. These events should be for all ages so if you’re 5 for 105 go along, The world seems to be moving away from traditional learning to online learning communities, take advantage of this. Hackers recognise the skills of others and judge accordingly.

Oh business cards are really good, they may seem old fashioned but they are great for networking and better than scraps of paper. Good way for people to get your information.

You can read the rest of the Master Spotlight interviews here

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