May 23, 2008

Portrait: NimbleX creator Bogdan Radulescu

Author: Thomas Holbrook II

Sometimes all it takes to foment innovation may be an idea that sounds cool. When Romanian developer Bogdan Radulescu first ran into what would eventually be known as, he says, "I thought it was pretty cool. I had no idea at that time what is open source. I only knew I don't have to pay for that software." It was the beginning of a career that eventually produced NimbleX, a mini-live CD project designed to be fast, light, and functional for everyday use.


Radulescu recieved his first computer from his parents in the fifth grade. Little did he realize that computers would consume most of his time in the future.

"I think my first contact with open source was actually with Linux in the late '99. I had only a [Red Hat 6] CD that I managed to install on my computer. I didn't actually know how to do anything because it was only the CD. I didn't have Internet access at that time or even some minimal documentation I coud read. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing," Radulescu says.

But Radulescu began learning more about free and open source software. With access to the Internet, he was able to understand the workings of Linux better. "In 2005 I encountered Slax, and it was pretty cool. Actually the coolest thing about it was the Linux Live scripts, and I really want to thank [developer] Tomas [Matejicek] for the excellent idea to write them the way he did." The scripts let users create their own live distributions based on their current desktops distribution.

Radulescu began to customize his own personal environment, based on Slackware, and eventually realized that others could use it too. Soon that would result in the creation of NimbleX. DistroWatch added the distribution to its list in September 2006.

"I like to believe NimbleX had some of the things that were missing in other distros. I thought that beginner/average users could do 99% of their daily things with it. Since it worked for me I thought it could work for others, so I shared the free software."

Custom NimbleX

After realizing that others could make their own custom CD if the proper interface was present, Radulescu began work on the Custom NimbleX site to let users generate a custom live CD. The interface utilizes JavaScript to grab user input. Users can add a preselected variety of software to the CD image, as well as custom wallpaper, and can set the sound volume, root password, user, and language. Once the image is created, the user has to wait 48 hours before he can create another image, in order to avoid overloading the server.

Radulescu now spends most of his time on NimbleX. He plans on making changes to the safe install and USB install. He also plans to implement methods of remote booting and mass deployment.

"I have to fix and improve many things, but I don't plan to use a huge conventional installer in the near future. I hope someone will contribute at some point with usable code or bug fixes."

Radulescu believes that Linux is ready for the desktop and that users are able to use it. He uses it every day exclusively and feels that it is better than Microsoft Windows. "I can't think of a real reason why the average user shouldn't switch to Linux."

Radulescu has plenty of interests in life. He enjoys having a beer with friends, watching movies, and listening to electronic music at very high volumes. In addition to that, he enjoys teaching Linux to people who are willing to learn. He also loves putting Linux on every device he can get his hands on.

"I enjoy customizing Linux for various devices," he says. "I guess I'm a geek."

Our Portraits series seeks to profile individuals who are doing interesting things with free and open source software. If you know of someone you'd like to read about, please let us know.


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