Carlie: Bill Childers is Linux Journal's Virtual Editor. How do you think your editor Jill Franklin came up with that one?
Bill: I think Jill came up with that because I don't actually do anything, but the simulation is really cool. Seriously, though -- I'm pretty sure the term Virtual Editor came about because I wrote a two-part series on Open Sourced Virtual Reality and Second Life.
Carlie: You and Kyle Rankin co-author the popular (and always funny) Point/Counterpoint column in Linux Journal. Are you and Kyle really as polar opposite as it seems?
Bill: At times, we are VERY much polar opposites. Sometimes, we're on the same wavelength. Kyle and I have worked together for a long time, both in "real life" as members of a technical team, as well as on various technical writing collaborations like Point/Counterpoint, or the O'Reilly book Ubuntu Hacks. Kyle's a talented engineer and writer, so it's always a blast working with him. He's also rather opinionated on some issues (like his rabid use of Mutt), so poking fun at that from time to time is an added bonus. I may be spoiling this for some of our Point/Counterpoint readers who tune in to see some conflict and name-calling, but Kyle's one of my closest friends, and while we don't agree 100% of the time, I do respect his opinion... particularly when I'm right.
Carlie: You're the author of Billix, dubbed a "system administrator's swiss army knife". Tell us a bit about it.
Bill: Billix actually came out of one of the hacking sessions Kyle started. We were working together and he was working on a PXE boot server for our server environment, and I had a need to have a version of that environment on a non-connected medium. I read the docs for SYSLINUX and PXELINUX, and realized that the stuff he'd done was directly connected to what I wanted to do. So I lifted his menu file (that's why I thank "greenfly" in the menu of Billix) and started modifying it to do what I wanted. So as a result, the world can thank Kyle Rankin for seeding the idea for Billix.
As far as Billix itself, it's a recovery and installation tool for system administrators. I wanted something... a universal tool that I could keep in my pocket. This tool would let me fix or install just about any system I might come across in my travels. Billix grew out of that need. It now can perform installs of several distros, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. It also includes Damn Small Linux as a recovery environment, and the DBAN and memtest tools.
Carlie: Taking the term "embedded Linux" to a whole new level, I heard a guy has embedded Billix in to this finger. Is that for real and are there any body parts you have Billix embedded in?
Bill: That's real! The fella's name is Jerry Jalava, and he lost part of his finger in a motorcycle accident. He has a 2GB USB key in his prosthetic finger, and he chose to install Billix on it.
Carlie: Ok, that's actually a really cool story. I just dug up the link to the article I had previously read to share with our readers (thanks Gizmodo). As for part two of my question, your silence has my interest peaked.
Carlie: Besides Billix, what open source project are you most interested in right now?
Bill:I've always got an interest in Ubuntu. Eucalyptus seems interesting right now, appears to be lots of movement in the cloud computing area.
Carlie: Any parting words for our readers?