My Computers

No geek’s homepage would we complete without a list of his computers :-)


Vivaldi case Vivaldi monitors

Function:Vivaldi is my main desktop workhorse. Packing lots of HDD space, dual monitors, and a DL DVD writer.
Model:Home built AMD64 workstation: MSI K8N Neo4 mobo
Processor:AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3200+
HDD:120GiB main drive + 2TiB RAID-5 array over 3 x 1TiB disks.
Network:Dual Gigabit
OS:Debian/testing amd64 (with i386 chroot)



Function:My current, baby laptop.
Model:Apple MacBook 2007
Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo T7400
Network:Gigabit & Atheros 802.11n Wifi
OS:Ubuntu amd64



Function:My big, and slightly aging laptop.
Model:Acer Ferrari 4005WMLi
Processor:AMD Turion(tm) 64 Mobile Technology ML-37
Network:Gigabit & Wifi
OS:Ubuntu amd64



Function:Home LTSP server, mainly used by my mother and sister.
Model:Home built workstation: MSI K7T266 Pro2 mobo
Processor:AMD Athlon(tm) XP 1700+
HDD:111GiB (RAID-1 over 2 120GB disks)



Function:Home server: Mail, File, Printer, Web Proxy, APT proxy, SVN reopository, Database, and more…
Model:Mecer Premium-x
Processor:Pentium III (Katmai) 460MHz (underclocked for PII mobo)
HDD:110GiB (RAID-1 over 2 120GB disks)

Schubert & Berlioz


Function:DSL router, WiFi AP (hidden in the bowels of the attic in a hole of a central wall, above a sewage pipe :-) — the one place that gives most of the house coverage, berlioz does the rest)
Model:Linksys WRT54g V2.4
Processor:Broadcom BCM3302 V0.7
HDD:3MiB Flash
Network:5-port managed 100Mbit switch, WiFi
OS:OpenWRT White Russion



Model:Compaq Contura 410C
Network:None (PCMCIA reqd.)
OS:DeLi 0.7-pre



Function:LTSP Terminal
Model:Compaq Deskpro
Processor:Celeron (Mendocino) 333MHz
OS:Ubuntu LTSP Client



Function:Internet Tablet
Model:Nokia N800
Processor:ARMv6 388MHz
Flash:256MiB + 2GiB SD
OS:Maemo OS2008



Function:Ogg / MP3 player. As it runs OSS firmware, it has to be listed :-)
Model:iRiver iHP-140
Processor:Motorola SCF5249 140MHz coldfire
OS:Rockbox CVS

The graveyard


The graveyard is where I dig around when a machine dies / is needed. It contains a couple of decent PIIIs, and a Pentium 200 that has stood the test of time - at the prime of its life it was host to a 1TiB disk array :-)

Contact Me

Should you want to do such a thing, here are some ways to do it. Email is the most reliable way to get me, although I might read it in a few days time. I regularly have a Pidgin open for Jabber.

Email: tumbleweed "at" tumbleweed "dot" org "dot" za or e-mail form
IRC: tumbleweed on Atrum, Freenode, and WUG ZA
Jabber (Google Talk is jabber): stefano "at" rivera "dot" za "dot" net
MSN (via jabber): stefano "at" rivera "dot" za "dot" net
Skype: stefanorivera (but you'll have to arrange for me to be online)
Telephone: +27 72 419 8559 or +27 21 461 1230
Physical: 5 Culvert Gardens, 202 Upper Buitenkant St, Oranjezicht
Facebook: 530720481
Linkedin: tumbleweed
Mugshot: 4vK57Jy0RFqWRM
OpenPGP Key: 0x51106DF5CD92D072 (Stats). Previous key: 0x7B95A97ECBFB18F7 (Stats) (transition).



A self-taught Programmer and System Administrator, with BSc (Hons). Motivated, with first-class analytical, design and problem solving skills. Active in the FOSS community, and self-employed from the last two years of my schooling until present.


Date of Birth:17 August 1984
Marital Status:Single
Driving Licence:Full (South African Code B)
Citizenship:South African & Italian
eMail:Contact me
Address:11 Riesling Rd
Cape Town
South Africa


1991—2000: Michael Oak Waldorf Primary & High School.

2001—2003: Constantia Waldorf High School. Matriculated with Distinction: A in English HG, Mathematics HG, Physical Science HG, History HG, and Computer Studies HG.

2005—2007: BSc (Cape Town) Information Technology —- Computer Engineering —- Computer Science & Electrical Engineering. Awarded Dean’s Merit List (2006)

2008: BSc (Hons) (Cape Town) Information Technology. Class Medal.


LPIC-2 Linux Professional Institute Certified Level Two (January 2004 Level 1, March 2005 Level 2)

Professional Experience:

2002—Present: Hybrid Computer Solutions — Partner

I founded Hybrid Computer Solutions with two friends (one of whom has since dropped out). We take on small jobs, from Custom Computer Retail and Support through System Administration to Contract Programming. My expertise is with Linux System administration, and integration.

2004—Present: GetReel Digital Services (& Mustard London) — Network Administrator

I set up and maintain GetReel’s network and wrote web software for them. Most of he work was on contract for Mustard London. Work included the usual pile of servers as well as a Web-based showreel system, and lots of work with digital video.

2004—Present: Various Volunteer Activities

  • I mantain the Linux Enthusiast Group’s FTP mirror and infrastructure at UCT.
  • I helped the Shuttleworth Foundation out with installing donated computer networks in disadvantaged schools. (TuxLabs)

2004: Chimney Corners Summer Camp — Photography Instructor

For the (northern-hemisphere) summer, I worked at Chimney Corners camp teaching 8—14 year olds Black and White photography.

2004: Arup — IT Intern

I worked for several months in Arup on a variety of projects from desk side support to server maintainance to system configuration to documentation. I supervised the reconditioning of all machines that came past my desk.

Interests & Research:

Computer Related:

FOSS: I am a strong believer in Free / Open Source Software, and I maintain all my projects as FOSS, under GPL-Compatible licences.

I am the chairman of and system administrator for the Western Cape GNU/Linux User Group (CLUG), meeting weekly, and I have presented technical talks to the members. I co-maintain the CLUG servers and Freedom Toaster. The server is the South African mirror for many FOSS projcts including Debian and NetBSD.

South Africa offers many opportunities to use and spread FOSS —- I do my best to spread it.

Geek Community:

I’m involved in (and help organise) local “ Geek Community” events, such as GeekDinner, BarCamp, and *Camp.


My BSc(Hons) thesis involved creating a massively scalable monitoring system.


Outdoors: I am an ex-Scout, and enjoy hiking, mountain climbing, rock climbing and camping.


Black & White 35mm, mainly.



Available on request


Personal Preferences:

Distribution:Debian on the whole, Ubuntu on the laptop
Window Manager:I’m not too fussed, as long as I can get to terminals
MUA:several Mutts hanging out in a screen
Language:Python (when I can’t get away with bash)
Geekcode:GAT/CS d- s++:- a— C+++>++ UL++++$>LB++++$ P— L+++>+++++ E—- W+++ N o? K? w—- !O M+ !V PS+>++ PE Y++(+) PGP++>+++ t- 5- X R? tv—(-) b+(++++) DI++ D+ G— e++>+++ h—>++ r>++ y+


  • BSc IT (Computer Engineering: Computer Science + Electrical Engineering) Cape Town 2007
  • BSc Hons in IT (1st class, class medal) Cape Town 2008
  • Linux Professional Institute Level 2

Languages I’m experienced with:

  • Bash: above average
  • CSS: average
  • C: average - used at university
  • C++: average - used at university
  • Java: used for several small projects, been taught it too many times
  • Javascript: below average
  • LaTeX: average - my preferred writing tool
  • PHP: used for several small & medium projects
  • Python: preferred, and used for several small & medium projects

The Journey to being a Linux Geek

Even before school, my future interests were clear: I tied-up the house with wires and made “electrical gadgets” out of old electrical junk. I remember being given my first battery, light bulbs, and wires. From there it was downhill.

The first PC:

My first computer was a HP 9816. It was a year older than me, had a 6800 Processor, 128k RAM, and an (external) pair of single sided 3.5” floppy drives.

It had a ROM BASIC board, and a set of VisiCalc floppies (with manual shutters), so I spent my time reading it’s comprehensive manuals, making mazes in Visicalc (out of #s), writing games in BASIC, and otherwise abusing the poor machine. It had really fun, easy graphics, which drew slowly enough that you could learn a lot. On the whole, a nice machine — I wish I knew what has happened to it and it’s pile of manuals…

From there, I migrated to a 386 with hercules graphics and DOS (that I shared with a friend). And eventually, Windows. I toyed with programming in BASIC, Visual Basic and Pascal. But mostly used my computers for gaming (and messing around with things). Most of the software I wrote around this time was in Psion OPL, on my inherited Series 3a.

Disillusion with MS Windows sets in

I was getting just a little peeved with my MS Windows desktop. When one has a 500MiB HDD, fitting Windows 98, Office, and Visual Studio on it and still having a productive machine is difficult. It was obvious that there were big problems with Windows (and Microsoft software in general). I became very Anti-Microsoft, although I knew of no alternatives and hypocritically stuck with the Microsoft way of life.

At the local computer trade show, my friends and I would paste “Microsoft Sucks!” stickers (provided by a nearby labelling store’s demonstration printers ;-) all over the Microsoft stand. We’d also torment the Microsoft demonstrators and shout support when they asked “Who uses Lotus 1-2-3?” — basically, we where their worst nightmare…

Enter GNU/Linux

Quite soon after my family capitulated to Internet access, I heard about Linux, and started to read about it online. I avidly read anything I could get my hands on, and tried a few shell accounts (BSD presumably), but never got anywhere near installing it myself.

One day, a computer technician was working on the school office PCs (which I considered to be my domain) and we chatted. He asked me if I used Linux, and offered to get me a CD. I’ve still got it — RedHat 5.1.

I installed it, played around with it for a while, and then abandoned it. For the next couple years after, I would try it again every now and again, especially when I could get my hands on a newer version, but never too seriously, because I didn’t have a decent internet connection, know how to program C, or have any real Linux-using friends. And of course, playing XBill only keeps you entertained for so long…

Later, I got involved in building my school’s Computer Room (from a pile of spare parts and dead PCs, plus the insurance payout for 2 stolen [dead] PCs). I knew that this would be a good place to use Linux, because I could share the dial-up internet connection more reliably, and run a local mail server. It would make much better use of our very limited resources.

Seriously, now

So, in the holidays I took the fastest machine home, scavenged some more RAM, and taught myself how to configure everything from scratch.

When I came across the file, I got really frightened and switched to qmail. The same happened when I looked into BIND, and I used djbdns.

Debian to the rescue

After about 6 months of administering this machine (still RH), I hit my first “dependency hell.” At about this point I was getting involved in our LUG, and Tom gave me a copy of Debian woody — I have never looked back!

The Linux quest really begins

Of course the next step was to network my home — this taught me almost everything else that I needed to know to be a Linux admin… I still have the same server that I started with (well same Debian install, case, and motherboard - everything else has died along the way).

Enter Ubuntu

With the release of Ubuntu Breezy, I decided that it was worth a look at, and installed it on my mother’s LTSP server and my laptop.

This wasn’t all bliss, Ubuntu is still a little rough on the edges (although less so than Debian, and in different places). However, I was pretty happy with it. That doesn’t mean that I run it on my main desktop, but I do on my laptops, and I install it on other people’s machines where possible.

Debian and Ubuntu Development

To get a project I’m involved in, ibid, into Debian and Ubuntu, I got started on Debian Development. I am a Debian Developer, maintaining a handful of packages, and do some Universe gardening in Ubuntu.


Now I only use Linux (and only Debian +derivatives). I maintain several networks under the guise of Hybrid, and co-maintain our LUGs servers (mailing lists, ftp/rsync mirror, and a freedom toaster).

I try and attend Free Software conferences where I can. Usually LugRadio Live if I’m in the UK, and in 2007, Ubuntu Live and OSCON.

I’m very happy with my software choices, and look forward to a Linuxy future :-)

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