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Journalist, FOSS advocate, feminist - Carla Schroder is all these and more. But more than anything it is her straight talking that marks her out - when she takes a stand on issues she is driven by conviction.

This means that often she is at the receiving end but it is something that she can more than handle. The good thing about dealing with her is that she never allows her personal and professional worlds to mix - even her worst enemy will be allowed to have his/her say on a site which she edits. This is indeed a rare trait.

Schroder was recently in the news when her gig with Linux Today, one of the better-known FOSS news aggregation sites, ended in dismissal. Her readers liked what she was doing but the management apparently did not. The terms of her leaving do not permit her to say anything about it.

But there is a lot more to Schroder than what she did at Linux Today. She has moved on and rejoined LXer where she was an editor before joining Linux Today. She took some time off to speak to iTWire about her present, her past and what she looks forward to.

Who is Carla Schroder, where do you come from, and how come you ended up in computing?

I grew up in Eastern Washington, USA, and have lived in a lot of different places in the Pacific Northwest, big cities and small towns. I was a country girl trapped in the city until the Internet matured to where I could live almost anywhere as long as I had an internet connection, and got to where I could make a living writing. Now I own a little farm with my girlfriend of six years, two horses, one tractor, three cats, two dogs, and a roving population of deer, quail, bobcats, coyotes, owls, raptors, and other critters. It's a great life and I love it.

The publishing business has changed a lot since I started way back in 1995, as I am sure you know, so I am seriously studying programming now. I'm ready for a new challenge and good coders can always find paying work.
Carla Schroder
I'm a natural-born mechanic (auto, carpentry, general fix-its), and a computer is just another kind of machine, an infinitely flexible and fun machine. The first wave of Linux users came mainly from UNIX backgrounds. I arrived later to the party, and my first PC was a Mac LC II way back in 1993 or 1994. It was fun, but it belonged to a friend so I couldn't really dig into the guts. Then I bought a Tandy 386 SX (remember the SX processors, which were crippled DX CPUs?) with a whopping 4 megabytes RAM, and a hundred-megabyte hard disk. It had a 13" color CRT monitor at 8 bits resolution, all full of nice big pixels.

This machine ran Windows 3.1 and DOS 5. Windows drove me nuts, though I remember the file manager fondly, and the ability to tile or stack open windows. I spent most of my time in DOS. I liked the DOSSHELL because it made sense, and having a separate CLI and graphical interface made sense to me.

There was this great local free computer magazine, Computer Bits, that had excellent articles and wonderful ads. The ads were more like catalogs, with detailed product descriptions and prices. Back in those days (Portland, Oregon, USA) there were dozens of independent computer stores, internet service providers, and BBS (bulletin board services.) It was a great time to discover personal computers, with a lot of energy and activity, and a lot of interest. I read about Linux in Computer Bits, and that got me started with Red Hat 5, I think, on floppy diskettes. You could buy Red Hat and Mandrake in computer stores back then, even big chains like CompUSA and Fry's.

Everything I've learned about computers has come from books, friends, and searching online. I haven't had any formal training; I just like to dig into something and learn everything I can about it.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.