Hello Yves, and even if we both belong – more or less – to the Emmabuntüs galaxy, we never had the chance to talk together. So let’s get to know each other, if you will, through this interview.
– Under what circumstances did you fall into the free software pot?
At almost 81 years old the journey is quite long and tortuous. When I was 19 years old, I bought a transistor (OC71) to improve the reception of a galena radio set. Then, I joined the French Air Force which offered me several trainings over the years, the last one being focused on computer management…
– Before going any further, would you like to give us a quick summary of your military career?
I joined the Air Force in 1959, and I first got trained for one year as a wired tele-mechanic (telephone, telephone exchanges, overhead and underground lines, teletypewriters, sound system). Then during my career I followed different trainings:
I was educator with mechanic apprentices; then Electronic Calculator; microprocessor internship (TTL era); I was part of a competitive examination to become technician officer; finally followed a training in management computer science. And then I left the Army in 1986.
– And what did you do after this nice military career?
When I left the Army, I was living in Dijon at that time, I was offered a 6 months internship in a computer store where I could take care of PCs and Apple IIc.
Then, by a happy coincidence, I was in charge of preparing an important batch of computers in stock at an auction house in Dijon, and to help with their sale.
Finally, and I guess I was not done with the Army yet, I went back to the active reserve in Dijon for two years, where I did computer work.
– Have you also developed computer applications?
In the Air Force I developed an application on an Apple II in UCSD Pascal with two floppy disk drives. The central station was used for information updates and a second remote screen allowed the hierarchy to exploit the information by pushing a button to select the information to display. The push button used the input port dedicated to the game on the Apple computer…
Later, around 1985, I was asked by the ski federation to participate in the organization of “La Bourguignonne à La Vattay“. I went there with four computers and a software that I had written in Turbo Pascal. There were three cross-country ski races, three finishes on which a controller connected (headset/microphone) to the operator in charge of her race, announced “top” and then the runner’s bib. At the “top”, the operator pressed the space bar to save the time. The software would format the results to meet the guidelines of the book union. I got 50% of the results identical by the second to those of the official timekeeper. The races ended at 5pm on Sunday and the results were printed in the newspaper “Le Bien Public” on Monday morning (I transmitted the results at 1200 bauds to a journalist who forwarded them to the newspaper at 300 bauds during the preparation of the results of the following race).
– After this period in the reserve in Dijon, what did you become?
My wife and I moved to the South of France to take better care of our disabled grandson who was under our guardianship. This is how we ended up in the town of Canet-en-Roussillon, where I co-founded a computer section within the Canet-Accueil Association.
Unfortunately, in 2011, my wife passed away at the same time as our little Sylvain had just been accepted in his new Home. Two months later I offered my services to the Emmaüs-Catalogne community in Pollestres to recondition used computers. I started by installing the Windows XP operating system, bought by Emmaüs, on the machines given to the community.
– Under what circumstances did you meet Patrick?
Patrick had his family in Pollestres and visited the Emmaüs community of Pollestres when he was passing by and inevitably we met to talk about computers. At that time Patrick was developing his first version of Emmabuntüs based on Xubuntu. And, of course, we stayed in touch since then.
I stayed two years “Friend of Emmaüs” in Pollestres, and then, having two daughters settled in Genlis near Dijon, I decided to get closer to them.
– So you now live near Dijon. Do you continue the same activity within the local Emmaüs community?
As soon as I arrived in Genlis, I went to the Coluche space Social Center and I contacted the animator of the computer section to whom I proposed to co-animate with him around the Emmabuntüs distribution. It was a Thursday, he told me he didn’t have time for the moment but he gave me an appointment the following Saturday to present him my arguments in favor of Linux (and I knew later that he was under Linux at his home). On Saturday I presented the arguments of Sébastien Sauvage (sebsauvage.net) whose advice I appreciated.
Yves at the Coluche Space, computer room in Genlis, in 2013
I went to the Emmaüs community of Norges-la-Ville (at 30 Kms) but the director was only looking for people to help learning French (in fact she already had a person working with computers). I told her frankly that “it was not my cup of tea”.
Shortly after, on the local TV channel, I discovered the setting up of an annex from Norges to Villers-les-Pots (at 12,5 Kms). The next day I went there to meet the person in charge, offered her my services to help with computers and she answered “I take it”. I have now been there for almost eight years.
– Did you also participate in any remote activities?
In 2014 I was at the Auxonne fair, in front of the Emmaüs truck in Villers next to the flea market, to present Emmabuntüs.
In 2015, I was with Patrick on the Emmabuntüs stand at the Salon Primevère in Lyon.
I took part in the Associations Forum in Genlis on the SMICTOM stand to talk about computer recycling and present the Emmaüs recycling center.
I also had an Emmabuntüs stand at the Regional Emmaus Fair in Dijon in 2018, and every two years I participate in the Emmaüs open house in Norges-la-Ville.
– You have just volunteered for the “reuse key” operation. Do you already see a big demand from people around you?
I don’t have many requests for the moment, so to facilitate the sale of the prepared stock I asked for a stand in Norges on Sunday afternoon, but the acceptance is postponed because of the Covid-19 epidemic and also by fear for my own health. I hope that this activity can start in a few months…
– Are you also involved in the life of your town or village?
Yes, recently I took the presidency for two years of the “European Languages and Cultures” association in Genlis, I installed a set of computers with an internet connection shared with the “Restos du Cœur” association (they are neighbors and have an internet box…)
– Do you also have other more personal activities to relax a little?
I sow about 600 tomato seeds, and one month later they move from the living room to the veranda which then changes vocation (preparation of computers). I keep around 150 plants at home and give to friends and to Emmaüs the rest of the available plants.
– To come back to Emmabuntüs, what are the features of this distribution that you find particularly interesting, compared to the other Linux distributions you may know and use?
This distribution gives a nice range of software and the Dock is interesting, even if you have to find the right balance between occupying part of the available screen real estate and the ease of a direct access to the different applications. The question does not arise if you use two complementary screens. I also use Kazam to record TV replay in mp4. Then these recordings are played on 4 computers on the Villers-les-Pots stand to start the conversation with potential customers.
I have installed Ubuntu Studio for a musician and I started a year ago to propose to potential customers to replace their old system by the Emmabuntüs distribution, provided that the central unit is functioning and has at least 1 GB of RAM, and this for a small sum paid into the Emmaüs fund.
Moreover, a professor of the IUT, passing once by chance through Villers and impressed by the Emmabuntüs stand, sow a potential solution for many of his students in terms of computing power, and I hope to be able to help some young people to equip themselves for a modest sum.
– Do you use other distributions besides Emmabuntüs?
I discovered Debian-Facile and I’m starting to install it even more easily as it is also part of the clones loaded on the refurbishing USB key.
– Do you want to answer here other questions that I didn’t think to ask you?
Since eight years I bought on a regular basis at Norges low capacity, and therefore cheap, hard drives. Today and thanks in part to the refurbishing key used in our reuse campaign, I took advantage of the containment to put Emmabuntüs and Debian-Facile on this collection of about 200 disk drives (with IDE and SATA interfaces) and I started to sell them at the price of 2€ (for 40Gb) and 3€ (for 80Gb) to make people discover our GNU/Linux systems (by installing this disk in a tower) and to discuss with the customers to convince them of the quality of the products offered.
Yves on the computer stand of the Emmaüs community in Villers-les-Pots in 2021
And finally, Patrick had put me in contact with Adrien D. (see note 1) who, in the name of the company in which he is the IT manager, has just given me 8 computers, which I will prepare with Emmabuntüs DE3, and give to some local humanitarian associations in need. In fact, I will give three of them next week to an association that was recommended to me.
A big thank you to Adrien D. for this nice gesture. Rather than throwing away the company’s computer equipment and after removing sensitive data and/or systems, it can be reconditioned! The equipment that no longer meets the requirements of companies can have a second life, within the framework of associative uses, with a less greedy system, and have a second life for several years.
Léonie, in charge of Emmaüs in Villers-les-Pots, Adrien and Yves
(1) Editor’s Note:
For those who don’t know him yet, Adrien D is a blogger and youtuber quite popular in the Linux world.
His blog/wiki site is here: http://www.linuxtricks.fr
And I quote Adrien: “According to an old Latin proverb, Words fly away, writings remain.
The Linuxtricks site is there to list personal tricks, manipulations, that I have done under GNU/Linux.”
His YouTube channel Adrien Linuxtricks is there:
The videos it contains are focused on free software and more specifically on Linux distributions, tips about the command line, and tutorials for beginners or intermediate level users.
The OS highlighted by Adrien are Gentoo Linux, Calculate Linux, Fedora and CentOS, as well as Linux Mint. And he talks also about games under Linux, and even Windows, sometimes.
If you are interested in donating equipment, and you represent a company, don’t forget to contractualize the donation through a computer equipment donation agreement.
Adrien has provided you with a model on his website: