3 May 2012

Robert Milasan: Kongoni GNU/Linux aims to anybody who likes to experiment

Some Linux distribution are born to be big. Like Debian, Ubuntu and RedHat.

Other Linux distributions are born to die, because only limited set of developers are self-interested in them.

And there are distributions which are born to live small. They are changing maintaners and developers, but don't change the supporting idea. The example is Kongoni GNU/Linux. This is one of the few distributions born with an idea of freedom. This is one of the distributions approved by Free Software Foundation.

Let me introduce you the person who is steering this project now: Robert Milasan.

DarkDuck: Hello Robert! Your personality is not so well-known as maybe your project Kongoni GNU/Linux. Could you please tell some words about yourself?

Robert Milasan: Sure, so my name is Robert Gabriel Milasan. I currently work at SUSE Linux. I previously worked at IBM, both in Czech Republic. I'm originally from Romania, but moved to Czech Republic about 5 years ago, and this is my home since then. I’m married, living in Prague and playing with computers and cars. :)

DK: You are not the original author of Kongoni, but became a maintainer of it. Why and how did this happen?

RM: About 2 years ago, when the original author A.J. Venter still was the maintainer of Kongoni GNU/Linux, he had posted a note on the Kongoni website that he would step down from maintaining the distro, and if someone is interested in maintaining Kongoni to drop him a note. So I did, and I became the maintainer and developer of Kongoni. The reasons why he didn't want to maintain the distro are unknown to me, very possible lack of time.

DK: What has changed in Kongoni since you took over?

RM: Well, first of all, almost all packages are now Kongoni packages, not Slackware. The distro has proper udev implementation and KDE 4.7. It has not moved to KDE 4.8 yet. I added more packages, made sure all non-free packages are removed from the distro. There is now a proper live CD using udev, new installer (not the best, but …) and much more.

DK: Who is the target audience of Kongoni GNU/Linux, from your point of view?

RM: In general, it aims to anybody who likes to experiment, but otherwise it is mostly for power users or people who do know their way in Linux.

DK: What are the distinctive features of Kongoni, compared to other Linux distributions?

RM: Well, the most distinctive feature is the ported packages, similar for FreeBSD. The packages are build directly on the system, they do not come as binaries, similar to Gentoo.

DK: What are the weak points of Kongoni, which you’d like to improve?

RM: The weak points are the installer, the package manager and the update cycle. Also, there is no 64-bit version yet.

DK: How many developers are in the Kongoni team?

RM: 1 (one). Me. :-)

DK: What are the plans for the future of Kongoni GNU/Linux? Shall we expect a new release some time soon?

RM: At the moment, I would like to update all packages and release the next version. But I've just moved to Prague, because of the job, so I don't really have time to take care of Kongoni. I do hope that soon I'll be able to get back to my old routine, start again working on Kongoni and release something, at least an alpha version.

DK: Kongoni is far not the most popular Linux distribution, as per Distrowatch. It is currently somewhere around 200th place in the 6-month rating. Do you want this to improve?

RM: I don't really care about polls, as long as people do like the distro. Kongoni was never intended to compete with distro's like Ubuntu, Linuxmint or Fedora.

DK: Do you have an idea of how many users Kongoni has?

RM: To be honest no. At this moment I'm quite sure that not many. I do hope that after I get some time to clean up and release a new version, things will be a bit better.

DK: What are your personal preferences among Linux distributions, Desktop Environments, applications?

RM: I usually use and prefer Ubuntu and openSUSE for desktop. When it comes to applications, I use and like Deluge, Pidgin, VirtualBox, Firefox, Chrome, LibreOffice, VLC, gedit. This is for desktop use, of course.

DK: You worked for IBM and now work for SuSE Linux. Can you share what are your tasks there?

RM: Hard to say. Both where and are different in their on way. At IBM, I was a system and applications administrator and engineer, and at SUSE I'm L3 support engineer. Both jobs at totally different, and also the companies themselves. IBM was a huge and big multicultural environment, whereas in SUSE (CZ) there is mostly Czech guys and a couple of foreigners like me :). I suppose there are good things and bad things at both companies, but I do like SUSE better at this moment, most because of working in open source environment and Linux in general.

DK: What are your other projects, apart from Kongoni?

RM: I have some other small projects, but nothing interesting. If someone wants to know, please check my personal site.

DK: Do you read Linux Notes from DarkDuck blog? What would you like to change or improve there?

RM: I have never read Linux Notes or DarkDuck, sorry. :(

DK: If not at the computer, what are your interests, hobbies?

RM: Cars, movies, traveling and a lot of other things that I can’t remember now. :)

DK: From the places you’ve been to, what are the best ones? Where would you like to go again?

RM: Ohh, that’s easy: Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. My wife and I found the best people in these three countries: opened, willing to chat with you, warm, trustworthy and even fun. It's hard to explain, but we had the possibility many times to meet some very interesting characters during our road-trips around Europe. If someone has the possibility of doing this, do it, it's worth it. You can find some pics from some of our road-trips at http://photos.robertalks.com.

DK: Thanks for coming, Robert! I wish you all the best in development of Kongoni and other projects!

RM: Danke schoen, Thank you, Merci beaucoup, Koszi szepen, Multumesc mult, Molto grazie. :)


  1. I can imagine that trying to keep a custom distro going with 1 person that isn't just a respin of Fedora, Debian or Ubuntu must be incredibly difficult.

    There are so many distros that are basically *Buntu either they are based on a specific DE or use only free software and now we have things like Gubuntu which is just a gnome spin-off of ubuntu.

    I have nothing against the people that do this by the way. It saves time for individuals who like to use gnome or xfce, lxde the effort of installing Ubuntu and then customising it themselves.

    Actually creating a distro that ok may be based originally on another distro but has its own installers, package management etc is real power user stuff.

    Sometimes the question has to be asked why do it but if by individuals or small groups of people creating their own distro we end up with things like Bodhi then wow.

    1. Kongoni is neither Debian, nor Ubuntu spin-off. It is Slackware-based in the roots with some changes to that. In the first instance, it is truly free like freedom.
      I hope you read my review of Kongoni linked at the very beginning of the article. :-)

    2. I think my comment may have been lost in translation but my point is that generally there are a lot of distros out there that are ubuntu or fedora respins so to see someone putting a lot of effort on their own to create a distro with its own installer, packaging system etc is rare and actually very respectable.

      And what may seem like a lot of effort to start with and with limited success with luck and skill you could end up producing the next bodhi which I've just discovered very recently and I am loving.