The Linux Setup - Margarita Manterola, Google Engineer/Debian Developer
My process for these interviews is to find interesting Linux users and email them. Sometimes I have a sense of the Linux philosophy of the person I’m contacting, but most of the time I don’t. So the fact that Margarita is another user of a fairly stock setup isn’t a matter of me seeking out those kinds of users. It just seems to be where Linux is right now.
Which isn’t to say that Margarita’s setup is basic. Like a lot of Debian users, she makes liberal use of backports to import more recent versions of certain programs. But as she mentions, for the most part, she’s getting a lot done using a pretty default system.
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Margarita Manterola. I’m a software developer born in Argentina, currently living in Germany.
I work for Google as a Site Reliability Engineer, and in my free time, I participate in Free and Open Source Software. Particularly, I’m a Debian Developer since 2005, I contribute to the Debian Project with packages and bugfixes.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
On my personal desktop and laptop I run Debian Stable (currently codenamed Squeeze, very soon to be Wheezy).
Since it’s currently a two-year-old distribution, I complement it with some cherry-picked backports of some packages, like Firefox.
For my Debian work, I have several different partitions in my hard drive, that can run different distributions, in order to do developing and testing.
What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
I use lots of different pieces of software. I’m a heavy terminal user, I do all my coding in Vim, and generally prefer the command line to the graphical interface programs. However, I also enjoy the use of photo and video programs, like The GIMP, F-Spot, or Kdenlive.
What kind of hardware do you run it on?
I’m on the Intel team. I have a Core 2 Duo as my desktop and a Pentium M as my notebook (soon to be replaced). I dislike closed source graphics drivers, so I take care to buy machines with integrated Intel graphics cards.
Also, I like Dell Latitude notebooks, but they are expensive, so I buy them refurbished. My current notebook is a Dell Latitud X300. I bought it in 2007 and it still works as well as it did the first day, except for the dead battery.
I’m not much of a hardware fan, I don’t go buying the lastest machines with the most power just for the kicks. I think that nowadays even three- or four-year-old machines can perform quite well as a desktop machine. Only when compiling something big do I miss having something more powerful.
What is your ideal Linux setup?
I’m really happy with my setup. An up-to-date Debian Stable installation, with only a handful of backports, for the programs that really need it. I prefer to have a stable setup than a bleeding edge setup.
I’ve been using GNOME as a desktop envirnoment for many many years, and I was really reluctant to move to GNOME 3. However, I have lately discovered Cinnamon, and I really like it, so once I upgrade to Wheezy I’ll be using Cinnamon as the desktop environment.
Also, I care a lot about energy saving, so my ideal Linux setup doesn’t use more energy than needed and can be reliably suspended and woken up as necessary. This is usually related to hardware support, so I always take good care to look at the specs of the hardware I’m buying to check that everything works.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted 11/24/12