\n"; ?>
Interviews

SuSE Linux in the Caribbean

Martin Sommer

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 Internet café?

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.

 

\n"; ?>