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Santiago Roland sroland at lavabit.com
Wed Jun 20 03:13:52 UTC 2012

For those that not know me, I'm Santiago Roland (30 years, 2 sons) and
I'm a scientist/astronomer and amateur programmer. I'v been also using
GNU/Linux since 2006 in Debian 3.1 Sarge and migrated to Ubuntu mostly
in GNOME Desktop. I've been participating in a wide variety of Free
Software events, mostly Ubuntu launch parties and FLISoL parties (Free
Software Installation Party of Latin America). I also help creating an
Astronomy Software Wiki in help.ubuntu.com and I'm the author of a blog
that is ubuntu/astronomy/hacking/security oriented.

My personal university page is http://www.fisica.edu.uy/~sroland place
where you can check my CV (is in spanish) and also in the software
"Software Libre" section you can check some of my contributions. My
personal blog is http://www.elasterismo.blogspot.com also in spanish.

I started last year a personal project of an Ubuntu Astronomy Remix in
which some astronomy oriented applications where installed by default. I
designed a plot of the project and posted in my university page for
people to contact me eventually, but that project was heavy delayed by
personal circumstances that found me without a PC for the entire summer
until i setup my AMD 8-core workstation that i use for astronomy
calculations. The plot of the project can be seen in this alpha website

The problem was that the remix was initially based on Ubuntu 10.10 for
compatibility with some astronomical applications but as the time,
passed i think that restrictions went away. Anyway everything switched
to GTK3/GNOME3 and the entire project went to hell. And this is where my
XFCE desktop migration started. I could keep trying to incorporate
GNOME3 or Unity or whatever-fashion-desktop is on right now, but i
realised that the most important changes that the remix was introducing,
was indeed, usability changes or GUI changes. In Astronomy, many
scientists trend to keep it really simple because (as i write) many use
the PC to run calculations and heavy processing tasks and the way to get
this done, is by keeping it simple. No fancy eyecandy, no compiz, no
crashes. Just simple toolbar and desktop bar, with essential icons, and
away of the user.

I realised that GNOME3 was not that desktop anymore and by looking to
other options available, XFCE desktop was the immediate solution to most
of the issues that was appearing. The desktop experience is a subjective
thing and i can understand that and there will be endless discussions
about this.

On the other hand, i started to work as a computer teacher for a NGO
that teaches mature people how to use a computer. Those computers run
Ubuntu 10.04 and you cannot imagine the awesomeness that i felt watching
40, 50, 60 and even 70 year old people learning how to use a computer
with Ubuntu in it. This is a huge feedback that i was able to collect
about how others see the computer, and how others expect the computer to

An on the other "final" hand, my wife uses Ubuntu since 8.10 without
knowing anything about a terminal, a command or a package, and she uses
it on a Samsung Intel Atom Netbook, as well as many other women in the
world, i think. Simple as that. My wife is a huge amount of feedback
that many of developers also have with their wives, but the truth is
that many of the suggestions, feedback and complains about something, in
many cases intersect and have common lines in which i think i should
base my remix.

I think this way of thinking a linux distro may have the point in the
way it is made by some, thinking for everybody and always looking for a

I would be very pleased to be a part of Xubuntu devel talks in IRC
channels, but sometimes i can't find the time needed to do that. So, i
hope i can join you some day and talk about this things.

Best Regards,

Santiago Roland.-
openPGP key: 04DF8076
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