Gordon Matzigkeit is best known for
his work on Debian and libtool.
We stole a chance for this interview with him.
- What editor do you use?
I don't use an editor... I use a full-fledged text manipulation,
windowing, and network environment. Erm, Emacs, that is.
- Do you use revision control systems of some kind, and have you any
serious thoughts on the matter?
CVS does the job, but I much prefer PRCS. I had to stop using it because it's
worthwhile to remain compatible with others, especially on collaborative
projects. PRCS 2 should be a killer app, if Josh finishes writing it.
- What is your favorite language? C, C++ or some half arsed scripting
language like Perl? (duck)
I do Perl and C, though something like Pliant
is much more up my alley. I'm still looking for my favorite language.
- X vs console?
I run my Emacs session inside of Screen, where another VT is only a few
keystrokes away. When I use X, I just make one really big xterm and attach to
my screen inside of it. Screen's nicest feature is the ability to detach a
session from anywhere and resume it on another terminal.
My preferred environment is working from a Wyse terminal a floor away from any
computer noises. Ahh, silence. :)
- Window manager / Gnome / KDE environment?
twm. But the only thing I use X for is running Ghostscript (and the Dvorak
keyboard... I wish I knew a good way to map dvorak onto a serial port).
- Favorite hardware and OS platform?
I'm basically hardware-neutral, but I prefer quieter and high refresh rates
over faster. Ergonomic concerns are often overlooked, which I find silly,
considering machines are supposed to be designed for people, not vice versa.
As for an OS, I'm using Debian GNU/Linux. My favorite is complete GNU
(running the Hurd), but I currently lack the hardware to give it its proper
respect. Not to mention there's another person relying on my machine, so I
currently choose stability over coolness.
- Did you ever attempt to write yet another...
- Window manager?
- Widget set?
No and no, they're too high-level for me. I prefer plumbing over architecture.
- X replacement?
Yes. My basic design is similar to OpenWindows, with the idea of using a real
programming language as the base protocol (probably Guilt), so that the
client/server barrier can be dissolved. The idea would be to potentially
upload callbacks to the server, which can execute them in its own address
space at high performance.
Yes, it's called Guilt. It's a companion to GNU Guile, except it's intended
to replace C as a thin veneer over assembly language. It's a kind of typed
scheme with multiple syntaxes, if you will.
- Operating system?
God no, not a whole operating system. :)
But, yes, I'd like to write an extensible microkernel that would be designed
to run the Hurd. Not surprisingly, it's a very similar design to the window
- Has anyone offered to pay you/hire you based upon your open source
Yes, this has happened. In a way, all of my jobs have come this way, because
I don't have a University degree, and my main experience is with free software.
- What application or component is Linux most lacking?
I'm pretty happy with GNU/Linux. I'd say the most lacking component is the
ability to let people safely hack the kernel, which is the feature I like most
out of the Hurd. Otherwise, there's nothing else I really need.
- Is this your first interview by anyone?
Yup. I've had plenty of informal conversations, though. :)
Good questions, BTW.
What sort of stuff do you have lying around your cubicle/work area on a normal
day (machines, bits of machines, posters, cables, toys, empty cans of [insert
name of caffeinated beverage of choice] etc)?
A cell phone, unopened mail, photographs of my family, Carlos Casteneda's
"Tales of Power", a kneeling chair, a dot-matrix printer attached to
my Wyse terminal, a Macintosh Plus, some old boxes, a bunch of dirty clothes,
a dresser, a bed... OMG! I'm sleeping in my office!
Er, rather, my office is in my bedroom.
Speaking of drinks, which is your particular poison: Red Bull, Jolt, Coke,
coffee, or what?
I don't believe in drinking poison. Filtered water, please. :)
If you were offered the job of CEO of Microsoft with a multi-million dollar
package, on the condition that you never used or even looked at Linux/open
source software again, would you take it?
Yow. That's a terrible question. To me, that's the equivalent of
not using computers at all, since everything I do on computers that has any
meaning is with free software.
Regardless, I don't think I could handle the stress of a multi-million dollar
job at Microsoft, so I'd say no.
- (quoting "In reality, I've contributed to about 10 projects.")
Ok, ok, so you didn't contribute to that many. but libtool... wow, the sheer
annoyance and frustration built up in that package must be as hard as 267
projects. Just getting shared libs working across unicies, across compilers,
and across linkers. ugh. So the sheer amount of bug reports, patches, dead
ends, etc that you must have gone through justifies this question:
C'mon, be honest - you type with your hands and feet don't you?
No, but my daughter sometimes types on the keyboard, too.
Seriously, how do you deal with all the different systems? And does libtool
support c++ yet?
I deal with it the best way I knew how... I made my contribution, then I got
away. Other people are now working on it (and doing a fine job, too).
Michael Monty Widenius
About the author, Ken Guest.