30 Jul

Interview with Webconverger's founder Kai Hendry

DuckDuckGo's interview series with our browser, distribution and data partners.

An interview with Kai Hendry of Webconverger -- a DuckDuckGo partner.

[http://webconverger.com/logos/logo_webconverger.svg]

1) Who are you, and what do you work on?

I'm a South African entrepreneur and wannabe space tourist. Probably the first South African to study at cs.helsinki.fi after becoming a Linux fan boy.

I founded and work on Webconverger since 2007 which uses DDG as its default search engine, which conveniently matches our firm stance on privacy.


2) Why did you decide to build Webconverger? Who uses Webconverger?

Whilst backpacking around the world without a laptop in 2004, I was shocked that the Internet cafe administrators at the time could see my Web session, a clear privacy violation. I swore then and there to make an operating system that was designed for private sessions in public spaces.

Since then our current customers are retail banks, libraries, schools & tourist centers where information is king. Over 4000 machines all over the world run Webconverger month by month helping many users each to get online safely.

3) What is unique about Webconverger?

I'm really proud of the fact we pioneered having our entire rootfs checked into git. We developed gitfs which mounts the Webconverger git repository and we have efficient upgrade and downgrading. Super useful features that most Linux distributions do not have.

4) What are your future plans for Webconverger?

Since the PC market is in a bit of a crisis, and frankly a lot of kiosk use cases are accomplished by tablets, although they leak personal information, we are looking at the somewhat sexier Web signage market.

We aim to release a Web signage Archlinux Arm based product for the Raspberry PI, which should be pretty competitive compared to the expensive junk in the Digital Out of Home (DOOH) market nowadays.

Nonetheless we are in for the long game with Web kiosks. There are no "End of life" nightmares here. We are making the promise now if you buy our "one off" subscription, we will support your hardware forever. Something that no other operating system software does as far as I
know.

5) What tools do you use to build Webconverger?

My workstation is Archlinux and I use an array of suckless tools like git,dwm and st. I generally subscribe to the suckless philosophy with all my tools and make friends easily with those who do too.

6) What recommendations and tips would you give to someone interested in building a distribution?

There has never been a better time to get started. Install and run Linux/plan9/BSD on as many pieces of hardware as you can find. I recommend working with Archlinux, it has the simplest packaging system around.

Checkout Webconverger's develop page and run `make`. Everything we do on the OS is transparent.

What we do day to day is the same stuff you would do if you were running any linux distribution.

7) What would be your dream distribution contain?

Oodles of simplicity. An OS that truly sucks less. I would love to help organise some hardcore "suckless" guys to work full time on http://sta.li, a statically built linux distribution. If the idea works, then we would naturally base Webconverger upon it and we all would profit.
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