Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I love seeing people’s desktops (obviously), but seeing the actual workspace is also pretty amazing. And in Linus’ case, a little horrifying.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Linux Setup - Jack Wallen, Novelist/Journalist

Another interview, another subject who appreciates Linux because of its ability to stay out of the users’ way. It doesn’t seem like ‘letting people work’ should be that big a deal for a desktop operating system, but as Microsoft and Apple move to creating operating systems for devices, rather than for people, desktop usability has become a rarer situation for many. Jack is also a big Unity fan, which feels like the norm more and more. It’s especially interesting given that Unity is built for desktops and devices. But there seems to be more consensus that Unity happens to work well for serious desktop work.

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

You can follow My Linux Rig on Google+ here and follow me on Twitter here.

  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

    My name is Jack Wallen. I am an author of fiction (check me out on Amazon.com and getjackd.net) and a tech journalist for Techrepublic.com, Linux.com, and other sites. I’ve been covering open source for nearly 20 years.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    In 1996 I was using my first PC with Windows 95. After enough blue screens o’ death, I’d had enough and decided to find an alternative. That led me to Caldera Open Linux 1.0…which led me to Red Hat Linux. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I use Linux because it allows me to get my work done exactly how I want. With Linux I don’t suffer the constraints that either Apple or Windows places on their users. That freedom allows me to work more efficiently and more reliably.

  3. What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?

    I currently use Ubuntu 14.04. There are a lot of reasons I find Ubuntu to be one of the best desktops available. One such reason is Canonical’s drive to get Ubuntu on as many devices as possible. With the power of Debian under the foundation, Ubuntu is simply one of the most reliable distributions available. I have, however, been looking at Linux Deepin a great deal. I really love what they’ve done with the desktop interface.

  4. What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?

    Personally, I like the Unity interface. I find it one of the most efficient and powerful desktops available. Between the Dash search and the launcher, it’s an amazingly friendly way to interact with your system. Outside of its efficiency, it’s also one of the most modern looking desktops the Linux community has to offer.

  5. What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?

    That’s a tough one. Outside of the standard-issue software (web browser, email client, office suite), I’d have to say Audacity. I do a weekly podcast and cannot imagine doing it without the help of Audacity. It’s one of the finest pieces of open source audio software available for recording podcasts.

  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    I have a System76 Leopard Extreme. It’s, without a doubt, the most powerful computer I have ever laid my hands on.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Jack Wallen's desktop

Interview conducted June 11, 2014


The Linux Setup is a feature where I interview people about their Linux setups. The concept is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from this site. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line.

You can follow My Linux Rig on Google+ here, follow me on Twitter here, and subscribe to the feed here.


Monday, July 21, 2014 Thursday, July 17, 2014 Wednesday, July 16, 2014 Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Linux Setup - Scott Nesbitt, Writer

I’m a big fan of Scott’s writing, which has a technological bent, but is usually more about working effectively, rather than how tools can make you effective, which is a key distinction. Scott’s setup reflects his focus on production rather than tweaking. He has his work tools and everything else is pretty much white noise. Which is why LXDE/Lubuntu probably makes a lot of sense for his workflow. It’s simple and it stays out of his way. Scott also gets bonus points for moving his family to Linux. That’s a tough move, but given that his wife stole his ZaReason laptop, the conversion seems to have taken.

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

You can follow My Linux Rig on Google+ here and follow me on Twitter here.

  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

    My name is Scott Nesbitt, and I’m writer, blogger (here and here, too), and technology coach based in Auckland, New Zealand.

    I’m not a developer or techie, even though I am a recovering technical communicator. My goal with using Linux isn’t to hack—although I do write the occasional shell, Perl, or Python script. Instead, my goal is to do my work, which mainly is writing and publishing.

    Which leads us to…

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    The short answer: It works for me.

    The longer answer: back in late 1999, I was a reluctant and disgruntled Windows user. The incident that finally drove me away from Windows came late one evening that year. I was working on a report for a freelance writing client and Windows crashed. I lost most of my work. Frustration and anger don’t reflect what I was feeling at the time.

    A couple of days later, I was whiling away some time between meetings at an office supply store when I noticed a boxed copy of Caldera OpenLinux Base on sale for $20. On a whim, I bought it and installed OpenLinux on the Pentium 300 system my wife had recently moved on from. Except for some initial weirdness with the size of the display (which I quickly corrected), installing and using OpenLinux was smoother than I expected.

    Over the years, I moved from that desktop to a series of laptops running Debian, Xandros, JoliOS, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Peppermint OS, Linux Mint, Linux Lite, and Lubuntu. I’ve also tested a number of other distros using a live CD or a live USB. With the distros that I wound up using, I was always pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to install and how each detected my hardware.

    My household now uses Linux exclusively. In fact, I run most of my life on free and open source software. I converted my daughter to Linux about four years ago, and my wife jumped on the Linux Mint bandwagon in 2012.

    For what I need to do—writing and publishing, and a bit more—Linux just works. I keep repeating that, but it’s true. Linux works for me. I really don’t care what Linux does or doesn’t do for other people. I only care about what it does for me and what it lets me do. And that’s pretty much everything.

    While I’d been using free software since the mid 1990s, switching to Linux got me deeper into free/libre/open source world. I went from using it to writing and speaking about it. On top of that, I’ve met a number of wonderful and interesting people who work on various FLOSS projects.

  3. What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?

    Right now, I use Lubuntu 14.04. I moved to Lubuntu after testing it for a blog post I was writing. It grew on me quite quickly. I also like that Lubuntu is fast, fairly lean, functional, and easy to use. It also looks pretty good (not that I’m overly hung up on looks!).

  4. What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?

    LXDE. That’s the stock desktop environment in Lubuntu. It works fine, and I see no reason to change it. To be honest, I’m not really a desktop environment partisan. I’ve used several and they all have their good and not-so-good points. It’s just a matter of adapting.

    In case you’re wondering, I do like Unity.

  5. What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?

    There’s no one piece of software that I depend upon above all others. Instead, there are specific applications that I depend on for certain tasks. Here are a few examples:

    Don’t get me wrong: I don’t overload my system with software. But I prefer my apps to be very focused—they should do one or two things well, and I don’t worry about so-called “missing” functionality (whatever that term means).

  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My laptop is an Acer Aspire 5742Z with a 15.6” LED LCD screen, 6GB DDR3 memory, and a 500GB hard drive. I know there are some who would consider those specs to be underwhelming, but they’re more than good enough for what I need to do.

    This laptop is a hand-me-down from my wife. Over the last couple of years, she somehow managed to serial kill three hard drives on that computer. I don’t know how, either… Earlier this year, I had to decide whether to sell the laptop for parts or take one more shot at bringing it back to life. I took the latter route, and it worked. The laptop has been humming along nicely ever since.

    In case you’re wondering, while the Acer machine was out of action, my wife hijacked my ZaReason Alto laptop running Linux Mint. The Alto isn’t my laptop anymore, and I suspect that I’ll be prying it from her cold, dead hands.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure. Prepared to be bored! I aim for a very clean desktop—no icons. Although I do change the wallpaper every so often. I usually launch applications by clicking one of the (few) icons on the task bar or using Kupfer (a nifty app launcher).

Scott Nesbitt's desktop

Interview conducted May 26, 2014


The Linux Setup is a feature where I interview people about their Linux setups. The concept is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from this site. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line.

You can follow My Linux Rig on Google+ here, follow me on Twitter here, and subscribe to the feed here.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Geekness Day 2014

SingleHop, a hosting company, is doing a big series around Geekness Day, which I guess is a thing. They asked me to answer some questions and it seemed fun. They’ll be posting more stuff around this on their blog.

  1. What makes you a geek?

    I still don’t love the word geek, but I understand I’m considered geeky because of my enthusiasm for Linux. I’m probably also considered geeky for my sometimes-obsessive love of guitars and rock music. I really wish we could substitute geek for passionate or super fan, though. I think it’s ultimately more accurate.

  2. What is your proudest geek moment?

    Definitely moving to Linux full-time after I finished graduate school. I was running a dual-boot system because I needed SAS and Statistica for coursework and my thesis (I didn’t know about R back then). As soon as that was done, I paved right over XP and never looked back.

  3. What is your geek motto/favorite geek quote?

    I’ve always thought the Unix Philosophy can apply to just about everything: “Do one thing well.”

  4. Who is your geek role model?

    This is going to sound like a cop out, but I really admire the Linux community as a whole. I look up to all of the people who contribute their time to make Linux better, either with code, or by answering questions, or by turning other people onto it. I’m constantly amazed and awed by the generosity within the Linux community.


Thursday, July 10, 2014