Issue #11 September 2005

Red Hat speaks

Tim Waugh, Systems Engineer

You might recognize the name Tim Waugh from past issues of Red Hat Magazine. He has become a recurring author for the magazine, writing technical articles for a wide range of users. We decided to interview him this month to learn more about Tim and his work in the open source community.

What is your role at Red Hat and how long have you been with Red Hat?
I'm a developer working in the Base Operating System group, and I've been at Red Hat for nearly six years now. I maintain several RPM packages in the base set including the CUPS print spooler, the bash shell, and GNU coreutils.
How did you get started with open source software?

I'd been grumbling to a friend at university about how only one DOS box would update at a time on the Windows PCs in the computer room. He suggested I try Linux: you could run a command to install it over the network. I liked it, and eventually got my own computer and persuaded someone to help install Linux on it for me.

Later, when I was comfortable using Linux and looking for a good idea for making backups, another friend suggested getting an Iomega Zip drive that plugs into the parallel port. He ended up getting me involved with adding driver support for a particular feature of those drives.

What open source project are you most involved in currently?

This week I've been working on foomatic, the LinuxPrinting.org printers and drivers database. This is the database that matches identification strings to printer models and printer models to drivers. It is what allows Fedora Core to automatically configure printers when they are plugged in.

There has been some work underway to add support for storing and retrieving PPD (PostScript printer definition) files that are provided by printer manufacturers. I've been helping to make the process easier for adding new PPDs to the database.

What are your thoughts about the state of printing on Linux?

I think there have been some great advances, but there are also some short comings that need addressing. We have some really great printer drivers around now. The new HP Linux Imaging Project (HPLIP) has replaced the HPOJ driver, and it is much easier to set up now. The Gutenprint project is the new incarnation of the Gimp-Print driver and promises many improvements.

There are still some significant pieces missing, unfortunately. In Fedora Core, the printer configuration tool needs to be redesigned to be a single entity rather than being a user interface separated from a backend. Job management needs to be easier: even things like canceling a print job have unnecessary complications at the moment.

You've been a recurring author in Red Hat Magazine. What keeps you motivated to continue writing articles?

The fame of course. :-)

I really enjoy reading the other articles in the magazine, so it's great to be able to contribute to it too.

What is your favorite subject to write about and why?
When I have wanted to find something out in the past, and have put the effort into finding the answer, I like to write about what the solution was. I like to write articles that I wish I could have read myself.
What is the most interesting job you've ever had?
My current job, without a doubt. There's always a new challenge, something new to learn, someone interesting to swap ideas with.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?

I think there are lots of jobs that would be interesting to try. I enjoy taking photographs (I have caught some of my wife Sue's enthusiasm for photography), so perhaps a job where I'd be doing that would be good.

But I'm happy with my current job, thanks!