Andrea is active on the Kernel mailing list (& works on the kernel),
his website is at http://e-mind.com/~andrea and works for SuSE.
- What editor do you use?
GNU emacs and vim. GNU emacs for kernel hacking. vim for local
administration and for working on remote machines throught my ppp link.
- Do you use revision control systems of some kind?
Yes I used CVS for some time to maintain my kernel tree. CVS makes trivial
to merge new kernel releases and patches. The merging feature of CVS is
pretty cool and I see it as superior than the patch binary. Nevertheless
the merging features of patch could be improved too. The "rejects" way
used by patch is not the best IMHO.
- Have you any serious thoughts on the matter?
In my experience I noticed that with CVS it's simpler to import code into
my three, but it's harder to extract the stuff cleanly from my tree to
send it to Linus. When it's time to extract a patch it's too annoying and
too slow do that.
Taking patches ordered in single files as I do now, instead avoids the
"extract" problem at the source (as there's no global repository in first
place and all patches are _just_ separated :).
- What is your favorite language? For example c,c++, some half arsed
scripting language like perl (duck)
I like lots of languages so it's hard to tell which is my favorite one...
For different things I prefer different languages. If I should choose only
one language to use without knowing what I'll have to do with it, I would
sure choose C because I can do everything with the maximal performance
with it. Accessing the hardware with other higher level languages is
For complex userspace stuff I believe C++ is more powerful. The STL
provided by C++ is very handy.
For scripts, filters, web-cgi, and custom software where I have to deal
with text the language I prefer is definitely perl.
Last but not the least I like lisp. I learn elips to automate some things
with emacs (things that are very related to file editing). Right now I use
elisp like a macro programming language. The functional approch to
programming is at least fascinating ;).
- X vs console?
Usually X (but not mouse) and sometime on the console (I am writing this
on the console btw). When I am waiting some bug to trigger I more likely
stay on the console (yes I am waiting a bug to trigger ;).
- Window manager? (gnome / kde environment)
I tried lots of window managers over the time. I used fvwm2 for a long
time because it's very very configurable and it did all I needed. Now I am
using windowmaker because it looks nicer to see and it supports kde/gnome
extensions, and it seems it's allowing me to do everything I need too ;).
Both KDE and GNOME looks nice. I sometime use KDE and GNOME applications.
I mainly care about the core of the application an I am not worried about
how the GUI looks. Nevertheless having a common GUI for all apps would be
nicer... (also for taking in memory only one widget).
BTW, I start most programs using key bindings. Having to point and click
(or double click) the mouse to spawn an xterm is overkill ;).
- Favorite hardware and os platform?
I always used the i386 architecture. Recently I started also working on
Alpha too. Alpha seems superior as design. SMP issues are addressed
carefully on Alpha for example. i386 instead in some thing is not very
smart. I also prefer the RISC approch (I think the main argument against
CISC is the increased probability of inserting hardware bugs).
- Did you ever attempt to write yet another window manager, widget set,
X replacement, programming language or operating system?
I wrote from scratch a little operative system called TinaOS running on a
MIPS emulator. It was for the Operative System exam. It had only a round
robin scheduler, a process hierarchy, signal handlers, no VM at all, 7/8
syscall, no filesystem. It tooks 3 months of work to make it working fine.
As I was running it on a MIPS emulator (called MPS) for linux, the
debugging is been very simple as I had not to reboot anything.
- Has anyone offered to pay you/hire you based upon your open
- What application or component is linux most lacking?
Probably a stable, java capable and GPL'd web browser would be nicer...
For office users also a perfect office clone would be nice I think.
- Is that your first interview by anyone?
- How often do you get mistaken as a woman? Do you mind?
Not very often recently, but it happened many times in the past. Sometime
it's been fun ;).
Quite frankly I don't mind and it's completly normal for Italians. Side
note: in Italy the female version of "Andrea" is "Andreina" (not nice ;).
None girl is called "Andrea" in Italy.
- How do you balance european phone rates and kernel patches?
Hmmm I am not sure to understand the question. I pay the phone rates,
that's all ;).
- Do you code and teston a single box, and can you recommend a setup like
that to do so? (for instance if you tweak fs code you don't really want
to boot your dev partitions with that kernel just yet).
I mainly depends on how much I am sure about the code I touched. Sometime
I boot my dev partition directly careless of how much critical was such
part of code.
For testing not obvious code I go safe of course. I test fs related things
on my old trusted P5 166mhz IDE. It's not a special machine. It's a plain
Pentium with 32mbyte of ram 2.5g IDE hard disk. As it's a pretty low
memory setup, it's optimal for testing the effect of memory pressure btw.
For SMP races I test on a double-PII box. It has two Pentium II
(Deschutes), the motherboard is P2B-D and has 128mbyte of RAM. It has one
4g IDE HD. It's always been rock solid for me and I trust it.
- Has the fame you've earned by developing and hacking on the kernel
affected the way you treat Linux users at conferences?
I believe nothing is changed. I wouldn't like myself if I would have
changed my feeling with other people. Don't forget I am a plain normal boy
8). I work on linux because I have fun in studying and in applying my
ideas to practice. I have a big satisfaction in producing things that are
useful to people. My object is not the fame. My object is basically to
learn every day something new.
- When you meet a group of Linux users for the first time, do they treat
you like some kind of God?
The only time I have been in contact with lots of linux users is been at the
Italian Linux Meeting some month ago this year after my talk about SMP and
After the talk most people started asking me an huge number of misc
questions and I did my best to answer all questions. I think I continued
to answer questions for 2/3 hours continously ;). I had fun and I hope
users got the answers they needed. The communication with users was very
friendly. I don't think they treated me like some kind of God.
I am definitely not a God, we are all humans. I have been wrong many times.
It's almost impossible to learn without doing some error. If you do an
error don't worry, it simply means you learnt something new and that's
good! ;) The only thing to care is to not repeat the same error and to
learn the lession.
- How do you feel about the cult of the personality in many companies and
in the Linux community?
I don't like the word "cult". It's mainly a terminology issue. I'll
produce an example. I admire Linus. I consider Linus a mail friend that
indirectly (with the sources) and directly (with words and often answering
my sometime silly questions) teached me lots of things. I don't see him
like a God but I more likely can see him as an example to follow.
- How do you feel about leading questions? ;)
I feel fine ;).
Michael Monty Widenius
About the author, Ken Guest.