SuSE Linux in the Caribbean
CaribeNet and SuSE Linux
It's interesting to see where you can meet up with SuSE Linux. Three weeks ago the Portal surprisingly received an e-mail message from the
Caribbean - from Cartagena in Colombia, to be specific. Close to the
seaside in Cartagena, two Germans - Dirk Seiffert and Sven-Gregor
Leske run an Internet café and a shop where they sell SuSE Linux. All
of the café's 15 workstations operate with SuSE Linux, even the
webcam. Dirk and Sven refer to their company as the "Linux-only
corner shop in the Caribbean". Since we liked the brief story, we
decided to conduct a more detailed interview about their company. Our
questions were answered by Dirk Seiffert.
Web Portal: Who established your company?
Dirk: My partner Sven-Gregor Leske and myself (Dirk Seiffert) started
CaribeNet in November 1999 with 6 computers.
Web Portal: Whose idea was it?
Dirk: Previously I had a laundry shop with an adjoining Internet
café. However, the Colombian authorities started a crackdown on
software piracy and I didn't have any money for licenses. Then a
friend from Berlin sent me a CD: Red Hat 5.2. I didn't know much about
computers, but I sat down and started to install it. I guess it was
the first Linux-based Internet café in South America.
Web Portal: How did the idea come about?
Dirk: This country was struggling with a recession, tourism was
dwindling, and the Internet was something completely new: it was the
only thing you could earn money with.
Web Portal: Why Cartagena?
Dirk: I don't know any place which is more beautiful.
Web Portal: How do you spend your leisure time?
Dirk: I haven't been to the beach for more than a year, though it's
only 400 yards away!
Web Portal: Are you Germany dropouts?
Dirk: Rather a Colombia drop-in. I don't like the term "dropout".
Nevertheless, I was fed up with Germany, so I went off to New York
with two suitcases, two guitars, and a one-way ticket. After six
months in New York I bought a car and went all the way to Argentina.
Cartagena was the best spot, so I'm back here.
Web Portal: What kind of people are you, where do you come from, how
many are you, what did you do formerly?
Dirk: We're two partners: Gregor is a merchant from Uelzen, and I'm a
"certified camera assistant" - I used to do TV serials. Originally,
I'm from Marburg.
Web Portal: Who are your customers, what kind of people visit your
Dirk: We have about 100 customers per day, all very different. Average
earners here can't afford computers: they just buy small portions. We
also get some tourists and students. Columbia is an emigration
country. Many have relatives abroad or want to leave. A large number
of our female customers would like to marry abroad or marry a
foreigner. They write their e-mail messages or make contacts in our
café. We also provide training, provide services for commercial
customers, design web pages, etc.
Web Portal: How do you market SuSE Linux?
Dirk: We import and market via our homepage, in the shop, and by means
of resellers in several large cities.
Web Portal: Which versions of SuSE Linux do you use?
Dirk: 7.0, 6.4 on a few machines, 7.1 hasn't arrived yet.
Web Portal: What kind of computers and programs do you employ?
Dirk: 15 computers, mostly 300-500 MHz AMD clones. Five computers are
first-generation Pentiums: they operate as X clients in the better
computers. It works perfectly. We got to SuSE after a detour through
Red Hat and Mandrake. We use KDE and KDE2, and especially Nescape and
StarOffice for the customers. Gimp/Sane/xscanimage for scanning in the
network, CUPS print server, an application server for the X clients,
two Apache servers (one internal server for price lists etc.
Web Portal: Thank you for the information.