The Linux Setup - Dan Lynch, Linux Outlaws podcast
If you’re talking Linux podcasts, odds are the conversation is going to come around to the Linux Outlaws. It’s a real treat to have Dan Lynch from Linux Outlaws sharing his setup. Dan’s setup is especially interesting to those trying to deal with audio production in Linux.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Dan Lynch and I live in Liverpool, UK. I’m a podcaster, musician, writer and geek. Let me try to be more specific. I co-host the Linux Outlaws podcast which is a weekly show about Linux and Open Source software. We’ve been running almost four years now and doing this has given me an opportunity to attend Linux events around the world and meet people I never expected to. I also occasionally host (or co-host) FLOSS Weekly on the TWIT Network, in addition to producing Free As In Freedom and running my own music show called Rathole Radio. So clearly I do far too much podcasting, yeah.
I also play guitar and sing in a band called 20lb Sounds and work as a musician and sound engineer. I write about FOSS and have produced software reviews for the likes of Linux Planet. I also develop websites for people with Drupal, have written custom Drupal modules and hack some code here and there. I attempt to keep up to date with the programming world but probably fail because it moves so fast.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
This is an interesting question because I move distributions a lot. I do this for review purposes and also to see what’s out there. Right now I have Ubuntu 11.04 on my main laptop, the one I use every day. I’ve been testing the new Unity interface. Very soon I will move onto another distro to try GNOME 3 properly for comparison. Ed. note: This interview was conducted in May. The distro I’ve used and stayed on for the longest time (many months) in the last few years has been Linux Mint. It’s a brilliant desktop distro and I like it a lot.
I’m also running Ubuntu Studio 10.10 on my studio desktop and this doesn’t change. I’ve been running that many years for audio recording, processing and editing. I usually just upgrade between major versions. I also have an older laptop I use as an Icecast broadcasting machine that runs Crunchbang 8.04, partly because of the low hardware specs and partly because it just does its job.
What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
In any distro I use I rely heavily on audio software for work. My main tool is Audacity, which is fairly easy to get on most distributions thankfully. For writing, programming and other work I only need basic tools like a text editor (preferably gedit), decent file manager, web browser and probably Terminator, I do love that. I also make heavy use of networks like Identi.ca, so the availability of a decent client is useful.
At the moment I also rely pretty heavily on Skype which is probably controversial. It’s not Open Source obviously and has just been acquired by Microsoft. The likes of the TWIT Network use it heavily and I need to be able to connect to be on their shows. We also use it for Linux Outlaws but we’re in the process of moving to another solution.
The laptop changes as I explained but the reason the studio machine doesn’t is because I have all these tools available on Ubuntu Studio and if something goes wrong with the laptop I’m not stranded.
What kind of hardware do you run it on?
My main laptop is a slightly aging Dell M1330n netbook. I got it in 2008, specifically bought with Ubuntu to support Open Source, but sadly Dell doesn’t sell them in the UK any more. Here are the rough specs: Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2gb RAM, 160gb HDD, Nvidia 8400M GS graphics.
The studio desktop machine is a little older. It’s one I put together from components I bought. The basic specs are: AMD Athlon 64 X2, 2gb RAM, various large IDE hard drives, Nvidia FX5600 graphics and crucially, a high end sound card - the RME Hammerfall HDSP 9652.
What is your ideal Linux setup?
I have always liked keeping my /home directory on a separate partition. This is particularly useful because I move between distributions so much. I can simply remove the important hidden settings files (like .gnome2, etc) from my home directory and not sully the next install. I still have all my GBs of data without laborious drive hopping, and a completely fresh install. It’s the best of both worlds for me.
I use many different desktop environments in the course of my travels but I definitely prefer GNOME 2 to anything else. This is important for me to be comfortable. I haven’t fully tested GNOME 3 yet but with GNOME 2 going away soon I’ll have to find something else probably. Xfce looks interesting and I notice Ubuntu Studio will be moving to it anyway.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
This is the current state of my main Dell laptop with Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity desktop. It will soon be swapped for GNOME 3, as I said. The mess of files and folders on the desktop is my own fault and not that of Ubuntu.
Interview conducted May 24, 2011