Interview Gerard en anglais

Johan Lenglet johan at
Lun 28 Oct 05:50:11 PST 2002

Voila l'interview qui va etre postee sur Mon petit probleme est
mon anglais plus lu qu'ecrit.
Donc est-ce que vous pourriez relire mon texte d'intro et mes questions
(entre les balise [b][/b]) et mon revoyer vos corrections merci.

cf : la version francaise devrait etre en ligne demain (et oui je pensais
pas que ma version anglaise etait aussi mauvaise).


Hello folks,
LFS user since years and French LFS translation project leader (sorry for my
english), I wanted to know a little more about his author. This is why this
interview will seem to you very "people" in the first part very targeted on
Gerald himself, then a little less in the second or it will share us his LFS

[b] Hello you are Mr. Gerard Beekmans writer of LFS book .
We would like to know you a little more. Speak to us a little about you.[/b]

Okay, a short introduction on me. I was born in 19979 in The Netherlands and
lived there until 1999 when I married Beverly  and immigrated to Canada. For
a living I have done a variety of Linux related jobs mostly in the field of
System & Network  Administration and custom Linux distribution development.

Currently I live in Alberta, Canada and no, I don't have any children yet.
When I'm not working on anything Linux based, I enjoy reading books (science
fiction, fantasy, thrillers and action mostly),  going for long drives and
hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

[b] Where did you meet your wife ?[/b]

I met her in an IRC chatroom in 1997.

[b] Where did you live in The Netherlands ?[/b]

I moved around The Netherlands quite a bit.

I was born in Oudehorne (lived there for 6 months), then moved to Emmeloord
(for 7 years), to Deventer (for 7 months), to Groningen (2 years at one
address, 3 year at another), to Uithuizen (one year at one address, one year
at another), to Oldenzijl (one year), to  Delfzijl. After I lived in
Delfzijl for two years I moved to Canada.

[b] You read many books but do you like to go to the cinema ?[/b]

Yes, as a matter of fact I do. I watch the same kind of movies as I read
books. I'm quite looking forward to the next Star  Trek: The Next Generation
movie (called Nemesis) and as well as the Lord of the Rings movie.

[b] What do you think about : antitrust, hackers and cybertrack movies ?

I haven't seen the movie Takedown.

I liked Antritrust, especially Antitrust's ending where Open Source wins it
over <big company that wants to dominate the world through closed source>.
As far as Hackers goes, all I can say I didn't mind it too much. Though,
it's been a very long time since I've last seen it -  I can't remember too
much about it anymore.

[b] Do you like pets ?[/b]

Yes, I absolutely do. From when I was a little boy until 3 years ago I grew
up with dogs. My parents have had numerous dogs,  mostly cross-breeds. The
last dog I've lived with, before I immigrated to Canada, was a pure-bred
Rottweiler and he truly is  the best dog I've ever seen (which isn't all
that common for Rottweilers. They have a tendency to become difficult to
manage  dogs, but so far he's great).

Here in Canada me and my wife have had a bunch of cats (the apartments we
lived in didn't allow dogs so we never got one). We started with a
completely white male kitten. Then came a completely black  female cat. They
made a few litters of very adorable cats. Unfortunately we've had to give
away all of our cats because we  recently moved from Ontario, Canada to
Alberta, Canada and we weren't able to bring our cats along.

Right now we're not looking in getting new pets, but it's certainly we are
keeping in mind for the nearby future.

[b] What is your preferred menu ?[/b]

I like meat a lot, including the more 'traditional' meats like beef and
pork, but I don't shy away from the more gamey meats  like elk, deer,
buffalo and so forth. Besides that, a pizza will always do just fine and
most other italian style foods. The  one thing I will not eat are brussel

[b] Most of the time is it you or Beverly who cooks ?[/b]

Beverly. For two reasons:
1) She actually enjoys cooking
2) This reason is probably more important: I don't cook very well.

[b] How did you come to you the idea to write LFS book ?[/b]

Back in March of 1999 (a few months before I immigrated to Canada) I needed
to make some changes to the distribution I was  using back then and found
that it was a major pain to do so. Whenever I changed something, often other
parts didn't work  (properly) anymore because I didn't know exactly what
depended on what and what the exact ramifications of changing things  were.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I'd better create my own Linux
distribution if I ever wanted to know 100%  how the system works. So, I
started doing some research and experimenting.

While I was doing this work I decided to document my progress as I went
along. Initially I submitted those documents to a  Dutch E-zine I worked for
at the time. I never finished those Dutch articles for the e-zine. I got
stuck at getting Glibc to  install properly and decided to abandon the
project at the time. I was about to move to Canada and get married a month
later  anyways so I was pretty busy preparing all those things.

Once moved, married and settled down a bit I wasn't able to work in Canada
yet while my immigration papers were being  processed. So technically I was
a visitor to Canada. It took about a year before I was able to work, so it
was my wife who  talked me into taking up LFS again and giving it another
go. I didn't have a lot of other things to do anyways. First I had  to
translate the original Dutch articles into English, then fixing the problems
I originally had with Glibc. In December of  1999 LFS version 1.0 was
released and I've been working on it ever since.

[b] Est-ce un hobby ?[/b]

It is also a hobbie ?

[b] And now how do you manage work and writing ?[/b]

It's hard. I spend 8 hours a day working, then there's dinner for an hour, 8
hours sleeping. 7 Hours left to spend time with  the family, do household
chores and work on LFS. I usually work most on LFS on the weekends when I
don't have a paying job to  attend to.

[b] You never found job where you can work on LFS ? [/b]

I once had a job where I worked half the week as a Linux system/network
Admin and the other half of the week  working/developing LFS. But that was
about two years ago, I haven't found an employer that will allow me to
develop LFS in  the boss' time.

[b] What was the book evolution since the first version ?[/b]

In the very beginning the aim of LFS was to provide a book full with
instructions on how to create an entire Linux  distribution including
XFree86, windowmangers, and all kinds of clients and servers (email, web,
ftp, dns, etc). A little  while later we shifted focus of what LFS tries to
do. Instead of trying to include very possible program that people might be
using, instead we downsized to just providing instructions on how to create
a well-rounded development platform. It wasn't  for us to decide which
window manager somebody should use, or which email program. Instead we now
provide the basics: after  you have installed the LFS book you have enough
software installed to compile any other program your heart desires. You got
compilers, standard libraries and helper applications such as autoconf,
automake, libtool, perl and all the system utilities  that any Linux system
should have on board.

[b] I suppose that the book is a good base for many other projects (or
projects ideas).
What do think about that ?[/b]

I think it's a great idea. If other people think LFS is good enough to use
for their own projects so much the better. It's  very satisfying knowing
that LFS is deemed worthy by others. Or maybe some people think it sucks and
feel the need to redo it  in their own way. At least we gave them ideas how
to build an LFS-like system. The end result is the same: I'm glad others
are using LFS.

[b] Do you know some based LFS projects ?[/b]

These are the one I know of personally because the authors have contacted me
at some point or I was told directly by one of  the LFS developers :

Bijax linux:


Kaladix Linux:


There are a lot more projects that we suspect of having used LFS as a model
but we never verified them. There are dozens more  projects that sprouted
from LFS that you can find announced on the various LFS mailinglists. Check
the archives if you're  interested.

[b] Are there exist some LFS translation ?[/b]

There currently exists a French translation at
Work has started on a German translation but I'm not sure if it's finished
yet. There is also an Italian translation which is  finished but not yet
available online but will be in a matter of days.

I've had more offers of translations but I've never heard from those people
again so I can only assume they never started or  finished anything.

[b] What would be for you the greatest award to LFS ?[/b]

The greatest reward would be to see LFS used in more projects. The more
people find LFS useful enough to base their own  projects on, the happier I
would be.

[b] What did the book writing bring to you ?[/b]

It brought me a lot of things actually. I'll list a few of them up:

1) A greater understanding of Linux. When I first started LFS I wasn't all
that well versed in Linux. I had only used it on  and off for about a year
but after using LFS I really got into Linux and I now know more about Linux
than ever thought  possible.

2) Technical writing skills. Because I'm writing a book I've landed a
technical writer job about 1.5 years ago which was a  great experience. If
it weren't for the book I wouldn't have been able to do so. I actually enjoy
writing manuals and such,  trying to explain difficult concepts in easy to
understand terms so everybody can understand it.

3) A large community. LFS now has a very large community and I'm right up
front. It gives a sense of accomplishment and a bit  of pride too. I feel
responsible for this group of people (the people using LFS which currently
exceeds ten thousand users at  last count) and I want to give them the very

4) New friends. Through LFS I've met new people and made some new friends.

5) Jobs. My LFS experience has landed me a number of short term
contracts/jobs which is nice because it's a variety. Always  doing something

6) Helped creating more knowledgable Linux professionals. Using LFS has
enhanced a lot of people's Linux knowledge and is  helping them getting jobs
and such.

7) The LFS material is used in quite a few Linux academic courses.

[b] Do you still have projects ?[/b]

No, LFS is the only project I'm working on. I'm overseeing the ALFS and LFS
projects too, but not very actively. All my free  time goes in the main LFS

[b] What would you want to say or to do that you never said or done ?[/b]

There are a few things that I've never done before that I'd absolutely love
to do and they are about to become reality  because I just moved out to
Alberta and live fairly close to the mountains:

1) Skiing
2) Mountain climbing
3) Mountain hiking

I'd love to just spend a few weeks in the mountains, me, my wife and nature
and go explore, hike, camp, etc.

[b] Some people currently ask me if you really sleep. Can you confirm ?[/b]

Yes, I actually sleep. Even the usual amount of 7 to 8 hours a day.

[b]Thanks to have take the time to answer to my questions.[/b]

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