The Linux Setup - Dave Whitinger, LXer
I know of Dave Whitinger from LXer, which is a lot of people’s must-read for Linux and open source news (obviously, it’s one of my daily stops). Dave has a fascinating setup. As you’ll read, it’s Fluxbox over Fedora, and as Dave points out, it allows him to use the same user interface for as long as he wants to. Thinking like this keeps Dave out of the UI wars and lets him focus on work. It’s a novel concept…
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m a Linux advocate and developer of community-oriented websites. I have created several Linux websites, most notably LinuxToday.com and LXer.com, the latter of which I am still involved in. I worked for Red Hat back when there were about 20 employees, and in the year 2000 I created DavesGarden.com and last year I created Cubits.org, which lets anyone create and host their own community with forums, articles and things like that.
I live on 90 acres in East Texas with my wife and five children where we keep all kinds of farm animals and grow huge gardens. I’m this year’s president of the Cherokee County Master Gardeners and am managing the Jacksonville, Texas farmers’ market.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I started with Slackware back in the mid 90s and switched to Red Hat Linux when I started working for that company. When Red Hat switched to Fedora I moved along with it.
Since then I’ve been using Fedora exclusively. I have tried out all kinds of distros out there but I always use Fedora for my “real work” machine.
What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
Vim, Firefox, Mutt, xterm, Fluxbox (along with the dockapps like wmbiff and wmbutton), ssh, rsync, git and mercurial, all the dev tools and libraries, mySQL, PHP, Apache, Rhythmbox, OpenOffice.org, the GIMP, gcalctool, MPlayer, Google Chrome, wget, nmap and tcpdump… I could go on for quite some time, actually!
What kind of hardware do you run it on?
A hand-me-down from a server that I dismantled several years ago.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor 4400+* (2.2GHz)
Tyan Tomcat K8E(S2865G2NR) motherboard
4GB of Patriot PSD1G400 memory
nVidia GeForce 7600 GT video card with dual 21” LCD monitors.
What is your ideal Linux setup?
The one I have, of course! I’ve been using Fluxbox as my window manager for many years and I love it. I am super productive with the customized setup I’ve created and honed over time. Fluxbox lets me have tabs in any window, so I keep several xterms open with multiple tabs (switching between tabs with the Windows-key+tab).
Alt one through eight switches me to different screens. One is a browsing and communication page. Two is the GIMP and notes. Three is my main development desktop. Four is my email (Mutt, of course). Five is my music. Six is a series of always-on ssh sessions to my remote servers. Seven and eight are miscellaneous extra desktops.
Fedora is something that I am very comfortable with. It is reliable and consistent for me, and as long as I can compile and use Fluxbox, their decisions regarding GNOME or other desktops don’t affect me in the slightest.
Using dual monitors is critical for me. On window three, I have a slew of xterms open on the left screen, and my browsers on the right screen. In this way, I can do easy and rapid web development and that is important for me.
My wife playfully gives me a hard time for using Mutt for my mail. She chuckles when she sees me in this modern age using the exact same mail setup that I’ve used since the 1990s. But it works and it works well, and it makes me efficient and fast. My desktop runs Linux and is a tool to help me get work done. I don’t need or desire fancy graphics and fun toys that are really distractions.
I handle change poorly, and I don’t live on the cutting edge. For me, computers are a means to an end. A tool that enables communication and development of tools that enrich peoples’ lives and help them connect with like-minded individuals around the world. My ideal Linux setup is one that gets out of my way and lets me get my work done.
I predict that in 10 years from now, my desktop environment and workflow will be nearly identical to how it is today.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted June 12, 2011