Photo of Jonathan Riddell

Jonathan Riddell

Interviewed: April 2006


IRC Nickname: Riddell
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Age: 23
Profession: Free Software Developer

Ubuntu Stuff

In what way are you involved in Ubuntu?

I'm part of the Kubuntu team

How much time do you spend working on Ubuntu?

About 12 hours a day

Are you being paid to work on Ubuntu?

Yes, Canonical employs me to make Kubuntu

How and when did you get involved in Ubuntu?

I knew that Ubuntu was going to be big and that it didn't feature my favourite desktop, so I wrote a blog post explaining why KDE people should get involved. That was the top google for "Ubuntu linux" for while and when Ubuntu dug out their plans for a KDE versions they contacted me to see if I could help.

What have you been working on for Dapper?

Making Kubuntu rock. The big project is Espresso the new Live CD installer which is now starting to become usable.

Espresso Installer Magnify

What are your plans for Dapper + 1?

The next release would come out about October which is the same time as the first KDE 4 preview is scheduled. It won't be the main desktop but we might have some preview packages in there for testing.

What feature would you like to see/improve in Ubuntu?

Lots of them. Easier printer setup would be nice, although at the moment KDE doesn't like talking to CUPS at all so there's some work to be done there.

Do you contribute to FLOSS in any other ways?

I edit KDE Dot News. I also worked on Umbrello UML Modeller for a few years but have little time for it now unfortunately. I did that as my university dissertation and won an award, in my opinion every computing student should do a Free Software project for their dissertation, that way you end up with a project that people might actually use.

Which window manager/desktop environment do you use and what do you like about it?

KDE. From a users point of view the close integration and consistency is really nice, but from a developers point of view the Qt/KDE libraries are so nice to work with.

What programs do you use daily?

Even though I'm a KDE fan I also rely very heavily on my screen session. E-mail is in Mutt which I detest for its strange keybindings but alas Pine has a not-quite-free licence. I use KMail occationally too for testing. Editor is emacs on the command line or Kate in GUI and web browser is always Konqueror.

What computers do you have and what are they called?

To be able to test Kubuntu releases I've had to collect all three supported architectures. So my laptop is pechin3 (named after pechin2 which got destroyed by Ryanair, and pechin which got stolen from a Quaker meeting house). I have an AMD64 called lichts because it has silly go faster LEDs on it, and a minimac called weeny.

What does your desktop look like?

desktop Magnify

What does your computer area look like?

Computer Area Magnify

Unless there's an Ubuntu conference going on, in which case it looks more like this:

Computer Area 2 Magnify

What do you drink while working on your computer?

Water. Sometimes Irn-Bru on late nights, Scotland is the only country in the world where Coca-Cola is not the best selling soft drink, we have Irn Bru instead.

Personal Stuff

Where were you born/grew up?

Edinburgh, the most lovely city in the world.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

I have an older brother, he runs the Macintoshes at our old school.

What memories do you have of growing up?

Sean Connery went to my primary school many years before I did, when he came back to visit I had no idea who he was, but he seemed friendly enough. I wasn't much of a James Bond fan when I was 8.

Married, partner or up for adoption?

I'm going out with Krissy.


Do you have any children or pets?

No but Krissy has two rabbits called Benna and Neek.

Where do you recommend anyone visiting your country sees?

The Edinburgh festivals, the largest arts festival in the world which happens each August, or hogmanay celebrations (hogmanay is Scots for new year).

What are you passionate about?

I like canoeing. Won a few national champtionships back in the day.


What does success mean to you?

Being happy.

Who do you most admire?

Richard Dawkins is cool, he can get away with slagging off everyone else because he's always correct in his arguments.

What do you do in your spare time?

I go to Quaker meetings in Edinburgh but also whereever else I happen to be.

What books have you read recently?

I read Neal Stephenson's Baroque Sequence which was excellent even if it did take a year to read.

What films have you seen recently?

I have a Shrek 2 video which I mostly use for checking Kubuntu can read encrypted DVDs.

What music do you like?

Yann Tierson (of Amile soundtrack fame) and Martyn Bennett (groovy Scottish music).

What are your favourite gadgets?

I don't like gadgets, they go against simplicity. I have an ipod shuffle but I don't have much use for it. I only have the cheapest possible mobile phone.

Favourite quote?

Walk cheerfully over the world (George Fox, founder of Quakerism)

Favourite food?

Deep fried pizza supper with Irn Bru and a deep fried mars bar.

Favourite comic?

The Beano with Dennis the Mennis.

Recommend a non Ubuntu website (brief description)?

Wikitravel is always handy to check out before I fly off around the world.

This interview is also available in Spanish and French