In the seventh edition of 21 Questions with, ​we feature Sean Rhodes, Technical Project Lead at Star Labs...when asked to describe them, Sean responded with the following:

In short, we're just a bunch of geeks. Back in 2016, Star Labs was formed in a pub. We all depended on using Linux, all with different laptops and all with different complaints about them. It always perplexed us that a laptop had never been made specifically for Linux. Whilst many had been "converted" to run Linux - they seldom offered the experience that macOS and Windows users had. So, after a few pints, we decided to make one.

So off we go with round 1... If you could choose three words to describe yourself, what would they be and why?

Sean Rhodes: Determined, Impatient, Workaholic
Once I set my mind to something, I will do it and do it as quickly as possible.

dt: How/when did you discover Linux and which OS did you grow up with?

SR:This first time I ever installed Linux was due to curiosity. I was hooked on the amount of choice available and now, it’s both for professional and personal that I still use it. I started with Ubuntu, moved quickly to Mint and now, I don’t really have a “home” distro as we do some much testing.

dt: What were you doing professionally before co-founding Star Labs?

SR: I worked in Networking.

dt: How would you describe your current work to a 5 year old kid?

SR: You go to a lab to create powerful weapons to free people from proprietary software.

dt: What was your first ever job (even as a kid)?

SR: I worked at an Italian restaurant chain called Zizzi's as a waiter.

dt: Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to work/business?

SR: A previous boss. It was the first company I worked at that was run by technical people. From my experience, the sales/directors usually call the shots - which works but when technical people are in charge, it’s very different. He focused on doing the job and then let the money-side sort itself out (which it did as the service was excellent).

dt: What’s the best life and work advice you’ve ever been given?

SR: “If you’re doing something, you’re doing it right.” To this day, I’ve never sat still.

dt: Your favorite superhero or fictional character, and why?

SR: Green Arrow. He has a very basic story. Miguel, but it’s always the same - he’s the underdog, trains or builds something and comes out on top.

dt: What were you like as a student?

SR: When I was at a college, I was a terrible student and didn’t put too much effort in. I then studied at the Open University and could only be described as a geek.

dt: What would be your dream project if money was no object?

SR: Personally, I’d chose a ridiculously premium 14” ultrabook. Ceramic chassis, 3:2 display, haptic trackpad, no built-in CCD array but a connector that could be used for things like an IR camera or speaker bar and a compartment that could house either an extended battery or small graphics card. It’s a dream that would cost literally millions in tooling, let alone production costs.

dt: What is your favorite sport or game to watch?

SR: I don’t really watch any sport to be honest - it’s a running joke in our office that “football” is a swear word and should not be mentioned.

dt: As a pioneer in Linux and the building of hardware based on Linux, what was it that drove you to focus on this area?

SR: It was purely selfish to start with. We’re all Linux users ourselves and we weren’t happy with the hardware that was on offer. All along, we’ve done this for passion and that will never change.

dt: Who are your real life heroes?

SR: Most people I work with here at Star Labs and it’s partners. Honourable mention has to be Richard Hughes, the LVFS as a project is awesome - and he can be helpful and make me lose track simultaneously!

dt: Do your friends and family appreciate the differences between Linux and MacOS or Microsoft?

SR: Some do, most don’t. I’ve converted a fair few people, even before Star Labs started and many of these people, simply just didn’t know there as a viable alternative to Windows. It’s a better proposition to say “This is a Linux laptop”, than “Buy this Windows laptop, download this ISO, copy it to a USB drive, turn it on whilst tapping F12, select install…”

dt: What was the last book you read that you would recommend to others?

SR: Born to Run (Christopher McDougall) - probably not to everyone’s taste but it’s definitely interesting.

dt: What grinds your gears or is your pet peeve?

SR: People who walk slowly.

dt: Do you have an 'online privacy nightmare' story? Or a crazy programming related story? Do share!

I honestly can’t think of a programming one that can be described as crazy - they’re all the same; a silly little typo that breaks the whole thing.

We had an “interesting” time back when we were making the prototypes for the LabTop Mk IIII. We were focusing on the logo and adjusting how it was “added”. So focused on the technique, we ended up with 3 prototypes with upsidedown logos.

dt: Where do you see Linux and maybe Linux on mobile being in ten years from here?

SR: I think the main thing that will come in the future, is more awareness and popularity. Strangely, some of this due to Microsoft but there’s definitely been an increased interest in alternatives to Windows and macOS.

dt: What’s your go-to form of entertainment or pastime? What do you do for fun?

Tough one - currently, my go-to (that also helps me switch off, even momentarily) is Archery. I don’t do it seriously, but it has a good balance between being challenging and effortless. You can’t also go wrong with a long walk with the dog and various frisbee tricks.

dt: You have the power to solve one world problem forever. Which one would you choose?

SR: That’s a dangerous question, the safe answer is “World peace”. I’d chose clean, efficient power generation - it seems to be the Achilles heel of many problems.

dt: You have one thing to say to your 18 year old self. What would it be?

SR: “Here are some blueprints and source-code to a few laptops. Have fun.”

Cheers, Sean.

Find Sean and Star Labs at:

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