Dale Raby: How do you Fedora?

We recently interviewed Dale Raby on how he uses Fedora. This is part of a series on the Fedora Magazine where we profile Fedora users and how they use Fedora to get things done. If you are interested in being interviewed for a further installment of this series, contact us on the feedback form.

Who is Dale Raby?

Dale started using Linux around 1999 when he became disconcerted with his Windows 95 computer and a young clerk in an office supply store told him about Linux. “I started reading some of the magazines, most notably Maximum Linux and eventually got to know their senior editor, Woody Hughes and Show Me the Code columnist Mae Ling Mak,” said Raby. His first distribution was Mandrake 6.5 which came in a box with a boot floppy.

Raby manages a small gun shop in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is also an author with three published books: The Post-Apocalyptic Blacksmith, 777 Bon Mots for Gunslighers and Other Real Men, The Wives of Jacob Book I: In the Beginning, and In the Beginning.

Dale’s hobbies include blacksmithing, hunting, shooting, printing with a vintage platen press, photography, writing, woodworking, and repairing computers. His childhood heroes were Jesus, Spiderman, Montgomery Scott and Mr. Spock.

Fedora Community

When asked about his first impression of the Fedora community, Raby said, “For the most part, they are a pretty awesome bunch.” When he has issues, he is able to find answers by searching Google. In the early days, when he needed hand-holding, he always found people to help.

Dale shares a philosophy with Doctor Leonard McCoy about change. “I know, change is good, but changes just for the sake of making changes benefits nobody.” Raby continued, “Part of this may be that I am a bearded old goat who hates changes to my well-ordered world, but why would anybody have to move my (for example) mailcap file or the way GnuPG is implemented?” His penchant for keeping things the same is not limited to Fedora or computers. Raby said, “Don’t feel bad though, I also want to get rid of the throttle-body fuel injection in my Ford Ranger and install a carburetor.”

What hardware?

Raby has a Dell Latitude E6400 with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 and 4GB of memory. He also has a CyberWorks desktop with an Intel Celeron 430, ASUSTeK P5GC-MX/1333 motherboard.

Dale Raby: How do you Fedora?

What software?

Raby uses LibreOffice, Mutt, Thunderbird, both GNOME and LXDE desktops, and GnuPG. He has tried to get LemonPOS up and running, but had little success.

Raby has two stores and must transfer inventory between them. “As there are two stores and merchandise frequently travels from one store to the other, I use Dropbox to transfer files. Guns have to be tracked carefully,” said Dale. “We always generate an electronic document that gets stored in a shared file on Dropbox as well as a hard copy that accompanies the gun when it is transferred. Even if the paperwork gets lost, the receiving clerk can look at the electronic file and check the serial number and description against the actual gun itself.”

The paperwork for transfers are generated using LibreOffice. The business also auctions guns and need to have pictures of them. Raby uses gThumbs to manage the images, and GIMP to edit them when necessary.

Dale Raby: How do you Fedora?

When asked about the books he writes, Raby said, “I use Focuswriter to write my books, then store them in a shared Dropbox directory where Diane, my proofreader, can access them and find all of my mistakes before I submit the manuscript to Book County for distribution. With retirement looming up in about ten years it would be nice to have some future royalty checks coming in to supplement my social security.”



  1. Richard

    I wonder if this guy uses gnome shell extensions or they were deactivated in order to take the screenshot…

    • edwin brietz

      I thought desktop icons are not by default. Either way, I am glad it works for him and glad he likes it.

    • Dale Raby

      I do, but they did not prevent the screenshot.

  2. Impressive guns on gnu

  3. antikythera

    Interesting reading. That’s the great thing about Fedora, the flexibility and how well it runs on legacy hardware. Try doing a similar setup using that hardware with W10 and you’d be up the creek without a paddle.

    • Dale Raby

      …without even a canoe!

    • Jesse Vas

      Actually, I have a Compaq nc6400 that is very similar to Mr. Raby’s Dell E6400. I dual-boot Fedora 23 and Windows 10. And, I share files between the two OS’. But, I do prefer my lovely Fedora operating system, because it supports my integrated graphics hardware a little better.

      But, Windows 10 boots faster. And, the changes MS made to it are remarkably similar to the more popular Linux distros.

      PS – Mr. Raby,

      I totally agree about getting back carburetors!

      • Dale A. Raby

        Yes, we had an efficient, inexpensive reliable system of fuel-air mixing with more than a hundred years of development and experience and replaced it with an inefficient, expensive and unreliable method of doing exactly the same job. No going back now, though.

  4. Gene VanMeter

    Are you using these tools in replacement of a bound book? Are you doing anything extra with the 4473’s like digitizing them?

    • Dale Raby

      No, none of the open source applications that might be able to replace the bound books meet BATFE’s requirements. I have a Windows 10 machine I use specifically for that application. As I understand, the software must log all changes to minimize the possibility of tampering. We still use old-fashioned paper 4473’s. I have considered scanning them, making a .pdf out of each one and storing those digitally referenced by the book number, but it would be quite a bit of extra work with limited usefulness and I would STILL have to keep the paper originals with the transferee’s signature. Likewise, we also still use paper buy books. As much as I’d like to go “paperless”, with an entrenched bureaucracy to fight changes and limited technology at this income level, it just isn’t feasible at present. So I still use pens, vintage manual typewriters, and serialized forms printed with an old hand-operated letterpress. Its OK, though, I’m old… still carrying a Colt DA revolver instead of a Glock. I’ve been shooting them so long I don’t even need the sights anymore.

  5. Siddharth Sharma

    I am package maintainer of LemonPOS. What are the problems that you are facing ? I know this package has some issues. Please send your query or problem that you are facing on my email I will see if I can help.

    • Dale Raby

      Well, truth be told, its mostly me, not the package, and I apologize for maligning the software. It uses MySQL, and as I am not an IT professional, getting MySQL up and running is kind of beyond me at present. Another issue seems to be that when Squeeze is up and asking for a password I do not have, there is no way to close the application short of rebooting the OS.

      As I have, conservatively, about an hour of “spare” time each week, I have to prioritize my time. Learning about MySQL is kind of low on my priority list right now… just under the blacksmithing project for the kitchen, in fact.

      What I think this package could benefit from is just a very simplistic set of instructions… if this is even possible… that includes setting up all necessary software configuration, including MySQL.

      One of the issue common to many Linux applications is that they are dependent upon other software and the folks who work with, for example, Mutt, do not want to deal with, for example, Exim configuration. Exim folks, hypothetically, do not want to deal with Mutt issues, so it can be a vicious cycle.

      People like me, who are not IT pros, would like very much to find a guide that says: Step One, put potting soil into a container. Step Two, bury seed one centimeter deep in soil. Step Three: add 100 CC’s of water, then place pot on window sill and wait. We don’t necessarily need to know exactly what kind of soil, how large a pot, and details about harvesting the final product at this stage.

      If I had such a simplistic instruction manual for LemonPOS, and could get it up and running with a minimal investment in time, I could certainly use it for all kinds of things. Alternatively, if GnuCash had an integrated customer receipt, it would be just as useful. GnuCash, once installed, is the proverbial “just works” application everyone loves. LemonPOS is not quite there yet.

    • Dale A. Raby

      The problems are more with me than with the package. I will turn 60 in three days, and past age fifty or so, learning new “stuff” gets more and more difficult. That said…

      Most of us non-IT professionals want to plug it in, turn it on and just have it “work”. Some years ago I endeavored to learn how to train Mutt. Looking back on it, I guess my motivation was to hopefully impress Mae Ling Mak. I didn’t know yet just how smart she was and therefore how difficult impressing her might be. Eventually though, I learned how to set up the .muttrc file to do the things I wanted Mutt to do. It took me YEARS, though. Never did impress Mae Ling. Ah well….

      Getting a complex application like LemonPOS working is probably about like training my Mutt, only I don’t have years to do it. I think the malady that LemonPOS suffers from is the same one that plagues many a good Linux application; they are dependent upon helper applications like Exim in the case of Mutt or MySQL in the case of LemonPOS. So in order to get the target application running, you also need to learn how to configure the helper application, which is often not a simple task.

      Further complicating matters is the fact that often the developers of the target application have no interest in aiding anyone in setting up the helper application. A common attitude I ran into was on the order of “RTFM, you idiot!”, and for a newbie, the “fine manual” might as well have been written in ancient Sumerian, or “this is not the (application) mailing list, go elsewhere you fool!” Not exactly the best “customer service” that could have been hoped for.

      What could help LemonPOS immensely is if someone would write up a primer at a very simplistic level. Final users of this application are going to be waitresses, clerks and gun salesmen, not professional coders. We need a step by step instruction file that includes MySQL installation and setup… and if some kind of configuration file is necessary, at least a basic one could be provided. What I would not have given for a .muttrc template back in the day!

      From what I have seen, LemonPOS seems to be in general use in South American countries and there is plenty of information in Spanish and Portuguese, but English? Not so much. Some of us old Gringos are not so smart and only know the swear words our Puerto Rican/Mexican/Panamanian fellow soldiers taught us… thanks Francisco, Antonio, Jorge. Now when I tell an illegal alien he can’t buy a gun, I know what he is calling me as he slams the door.

  6. ifoolb

    Surprised and good to see such senior person being a Linux enthusiast. My parents can’t even handle an Android phone! I guess technologies like this are much more wide-spreading in the USA than where I’m.

    • Jesse Vas

      Men of his generation created linux.

      • Dale Raby

        Yes, but I wasn’t one of them. Those people were much smarter than I am.

        • Jesse Vas

          Sorry for the brusqueness of my earlier post. I was just left thinking something like this:

          Marconi didn’t invent the parts when he built his radio, either. Someday, not long enough from now, someone will see me attempting something beyond my current scope. I’d be pleased if they were impressed that I tried. Not so much if they’re impressed with how old I am at the time. I’ve been trying to learn new things my whole life. And, others would want to watch my hair turn white? …pfft

          I’m equally impressed that you’re not afraid to tackle linux, and know your way around that old Royal (in the top photo). You’re experienced enough to even know what a carburetor is, let alone what to do with it. And, the most impressive thing about you to me is that you’re a small business enterpreneur who gets his ands into every aspect of his business and makes it work.

          I was raised under the roof of a family business that had supported my family for over 40 years before my grandmother decided to close it’s doors. This article about you and your story just jumped right out at me.

    • Dale Raby

      Some time in the late 1990’s or so, I realized that if I did not get a handle on all this digital technology, I would soon be unemployable. That’s a major incentive for someone with an empty bank account and a disabled child. Anyone can learn anything at any age… but its much easier as a youngster. Your brains work better and you don’t get tired as quickly. I have an Android tablet, but I’m still using a cell phone that resembles a communicator from Star Trek TOS and really have no plans to upgrade.

  7. Kevin

    For things as complex as databases, I’d suggest the creator of lemonPOS create a schema and have a simple HOWto that explains how to set things up.

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