I’m Phil Whitaker (or BeardyGnome, as I’m known on Identi.ca, IRC, Twitter etc). I’m a late-twenties Data Analyst Team Leader from the Midlands in the UK, specialising in Microsoft ( 🙁 ) by day and open source technologies ( 🙂 ) by night. My current aim is to learn C++, then Vala, but I’m being a little slow in getting round to it. Those of you who know me IRL (that’s in real life – if you didn’t know that, where have you been for the last decade!) will know that I rarely do today what I can put off until tomorrow!

Why Vala, you might ask? Well, I wanted to learn a C-style, open source language that would sit nicely alongside the C# training my company’s got me on at the moment.

I’ve been running Linux on my home PCs since the release of Ubuntu 8.04 (that’s since April 2008 for those of you not “in the know”) and I’m currently set up with the following:

  • Xubuntu (latest release) on my desktop (Dell Dimension 3100C with external Seagate 1TB disk mounted on /home).
  • Xubuntu (latest release) on my netbook (Dell Mini10v – yes I have a bit of a Dell thing going on!).
  • Debian Testing on my SheevaPlug (with a second external Seagate 1TB disk attached).
  • Debian Testing on my off-site SheevaPlug (with an external Seagate 2TB disk attached), which I use for backups.
  • Ubuntu Server Edition (latest LTS release) on my FirstNetServ VPS.

As you’ve probably guessed, I like Ubuntu and Xfce. I’ve not really tried many other distros, though I did once spend (almost) an entire night installing Arch Linux on my netbook. I really like the philosophy behind Arch (rolling releases, installing just what you need, having your system exactly the way you want it etc), but I have a life to lead and I need a distro that will handle the basics for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did the install, but Arch isn’t for me.

I’ve also tried Fedora 11 (I’m on the deb side of the whole RPM vs deb debate, so we didn’t get on) and Linux Mint (didn’t like the feel of it). I should really go back an give them another go, or at least try some other distros, but life’s too short and I’m happy with what I’ve got.

I’d have been quite happy running Ubuntu on my SheevaPlug too, but Ubuntu 9.04 was the last version with support for the SheevaPlug’s ARM chip, so I switched it to Debian Squeeze to ensure I was getting the most up-to-date packages. Debian was the obvious choice for me, with my Ubuntu background, so my only question was whether to go for Stable or Testing. I know that Stable is the rock-solid, dependable version, but I’m only using the SheevaPlug as a home backup, media and torrent server, so I decided to trade some of that security for some up-to-date apps.

What time I do spend away from a computer (which, according to my optician, is not nearly long enough), I spend with my wife, watching the TV shows we both enjoy (Bones, CSI, Numb3rs – spot the pattern? – and True Blood) and once a week, we both leave the flat screens behind and venture out of house for Salsa lessons (New York not Cuban, if that means something to you :-)).

While she’s doing “her” stuff (which mainly involves playing PS3 games, watching SciFi series back-to-back and cooking my tea :-)), I’m an avid reader (mainly crime fiction, but I’m slowly branching out) and I listen to quite a few podcasts, mainly Linux based, such as Linux Outlaws and the Ubuntu UK Podcast (in Ogg Vorbis format, naturally).

So, that’s me in a nutshell. Have a look round, follow me on Identi.ca and let me know if you think I’ve actually got anything worth saying.