Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Linux Setup - Alex J. Reissig, Writer

Alex is great because he’s a real distro-hopper. By practice, but also by vocation. So his setup has lots of tweaks, no doubt based upon things he’s seen in lots of other distros. I myself distro-hop much less than I used to. Part of it is a need for stability. But another part is knowing (or thinking I know) what I like. Like I’m fairly certain I’ll never be a KDE guy. It’s nothing against KDE — it just doesn’t quite click for me. But Alex reminds us it’s good to kick the tires on new distros, just to see if there’s something we can steal for use in our distro of choice.

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 Alex J. Reissig, although online you’ll see my pen name…AJ Reissig (AJ being a nickname from my childhood). My background is in chemistry, and my day job is as an analyst at Zimmer PowerStation in Moscow, Ohio (USA). Since there is no rest for the wicked, I also keep myself busy by producing YouTube videos about all things Linux (my channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/freedomredux). I also write novels: political fiction and science fiction (my SciFi blog is ariaprime.com). It is my hope that one day the writing and videos can become my full-time profession, but we’re not there…yet.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    There’s a few reasons why I’m a Linux user. First, I’m not a follow-the-herd kind of person; I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I also like to try new distributions and play with the latest/greatest software, something you can’t do with Windows or Mac. And while I’m not an anti-closed source person, I’m not a particular fan of Microsoft’s business practices, so using Linux is my little way of giving Microsoft (and Apple) the middle finger. And of course there is the cost factor…why run Windows when you can get a more flexible OS for free?

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

    I’m a self professed distro-hopper, and since I produce YouTube review of Linux distros, I typically have 4-5 different operating systems on my desktop at any given time. My current OS of choice is Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, which is my main driver on my desktop computer. On my laptop, I have a highly modified Xubuntu 14.04 setup. I’ve switched the Window manager to Gala (from Elementary OS), swapped out the Thunar file manager for Nemo (from Cinnamon), and a host of other changes.

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

    The GNOME 3 desktop is my favorite environment. While it is a radical departure from traditional desktop layout, once you get used to it, you realize this is a desktop made for people who want to get work done. No icons cluttering up the desktop, tons of extensions to customize it just the way you want it, and you can hotkey to your heart’s content (I love hotkeys!). Some of the extension I use are:

    • Appindicator support
    • Caffeine
    • Clipboard indicator
    • Coverflow alt-tab
    • Drop down terminal
    • Gno-Menu
    • Native window placement
    • Put windows
    • Top icons

    My number two desktop has to be Xfce because it is rock-solid and so versatile.

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

    There’s lots of Linux software that I love, but hands down my can’t-live-without software is Kdenlive. It’s an open source video editor that can perform just as well as editors that cost hundreds of dollars…what’s not to like? Of course, there’s other Linux software that I use on a daily basis, and it would be hard to find suitable replacements. Here are my favorites:

    • Evolution email
    • LibreOffice Writer
    • Simple Screen Recorder
    • GIMP
  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My desktop is an Acer running a quad core AMD processor @3.1GHz and 16GB RAM. Graphics and sound cards are stock, baseline units. I have three hard drives on this unit, one being an SSD for my OS. My laptop is a ThinkPad Edge E430, with i3 processor @2.2GHz and 8GB RAM. It has a 320GB hard drive (standard 5400 RPM) along with a 64GB mSATA, which is where my OS resides.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here’s a shot from my desktop. The background is one-of-a-kind (created in GIMP), and if you’re interested in the theming, I use:

    • Window Borders: Dorian 3.10
    • GTK Theme: Gnomish-Gray
    • Icons: Square
    • GNOME Shell Theme: Zukitwo-Cupertino

Alex Reissig's desktop

Interview conducted June 28, 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.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Linux Setup - Jason Myers, Systems Software Engineer

Not everyone loves tiling window managers, but people who do really love them. Jason is a tiling fan. And he uses Ubuntu. I’m as guilt as anyone of obsessing over desktop environments, but the great thing about Linux is you can pretty much use whatever desktop you want with whatever distribution you want. That’s kind of freedom and flexibility never ceases to amaze me.

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?

    I’m Jason Myers a systems software engineer with Emma, chair of PyTennessee, and co-organizer of PyNash. I help mitigate delivery system abuse and spam. I use mostly Python at my day job, however I occasionally dabble in JavaScript and golang on the side.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux because I like a bit of the freedom it offers, the community it has created, and tiling window managers. It started back in high school, when I wanted to become an analytical chemist. The software used at my internship ran on IRIX, and I wanted something similar at home. A great coworker at the time help me get setup with Slackware 3.1 (so many floppies…) on my terrible Packard Bell. I moved to RedHat (pre Fedora) 4.0 the following year. It wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to do computer science instead and started working at an ISP.

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

    I use Ubuntu LTSs as my primary distro, so now it’s 14.04.

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

    Xmonad, which I like because of its super-fast tiling, sparse interface, and keyboard-driven behavior. But I really just want a good terminal (I’m a Terminator fan) in whatever window manager I’m using.

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

    Vim and WeeChat are my top two applications. I use Vim for all development and text editing, and WeeChat keeps me connected to IRC and ultimately the Python and local (Nashville) developer communities.

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

    I’m using a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (i7-4500, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD), with a CODE keyboard.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Boring but attached. Dotfiles are online at GitHub.

Jason Myers' desktop

Interview conducted June 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.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Linux Setup - Kyle Riedemann, Android Developer/Student

Kyle’s interview recaps a lot of the ideas that have been expressed here the past few weeks. One is that Linux is a great development environment—perhaps better than OS X for certain users (like Kyle). Kyle also uses and enjoys Unity, although like every Unity user, he seems to feel guilty about it. Canonical should really consider changing the name to Unity: It’s OK. Don’t Feel Bad.

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?

    I am a student at Oklahoma State University (OSU). I’m a Management Science and Computer Systems major and a Google Developer Group organizer for the OSU-Stillwater chapter. I’m a beginning Android developer, and I’m focusing my studies on database management.

    I have two apps on the Play Store and hopefully a lot more to come, too. This is my developer profile on Google Play.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux because I was tired of using OS X, and I don’t like Windows. I’ve found that setting up my development environment is easier on a Linux install, and I love the fact that I can make a live USB drive with Android Studio and Oracle Java, so I can work on any computer at a moment’s notice.

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

    I use Ubuntu 14.04 on my laptop currently, but I’m very interested in Arch. I love the Arch Wiki and I’m planning on installing it after my summer class is over. I like Ubuntu for the easy compatibility with Steam.

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

    I use Unity. I know, I know, Unity sucks. But it does what I need as a desktop environment, and I love the way it handles multiple monitors. I’m a big fan of GNOME 3, but I’m sticking with Unity for now.

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

    I mostly depend on Chrome, to be honest. Chrome and Android Studio are always my first installs. I love Chrome because it automatically downloads the LastPass extension when I log in, and syncs tabs with my Android devices.

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

    I’m using a Galago UltraPro from System76. I’ve found it to be a solid piece of hardware so far, and you can see more of my impressions of the hardware at my blog. It does everything I need it to, and it handles games well in Windows and still maintains decent battery life.

    My review can be found here for those interested.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here’s a screenshot.

Kyle Riedemann's desktop

Interview conducted June 21, 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.


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.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Linux Setup - David Wickes, Software Developer

I was psyched to get David for this because at the time of the interview he was a brand new Linux user. It’s very cool to see someone at the beginning of their Linux journey. Now keep in mind, David is transitioning into software development, so he’s kind of a technical guy and his move into Linux is probably smoother than most. But it’s great that someone who wants a professional operating system and is priced out of the Mac market has a way to get easy access to the command line and a UNIX-like environment. I went to a GitHub workshop a few weeks ago and the facilitator was using OS X, which seems to be the norm at these kinds of things. I opened up the terminal on my Linux machine and I was able to use all of her commands. The Windows people had some issues, though. So in terms of quickly getting up-and-running in a development environment, David definitely made the right call.

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?

    I’m David Wickes. I currently work as a digital marketer, but at the beginning of the year I decided I was going to retrain as a software developer. So that’s what I’m up to at the moment, learning a lot about Ruby (on Rails or otherwise), writing bad code and making it better.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I’ve been using Linux for about three days now. The decision was based on the cumulative effect of reading many, many books and online courses on learning to program. Each of them had a section on how to get started, installing Ruby on your system — Windows, OS X, and Linux — and how to start setting up your ‘developer environment,’ which I guess is just a fancy way of describing the use of the command line in combination with the text editor of your choice to write code.

    My laptop came with Windows 7, so those are the instructions I went with. I kept bumping into little problems — a lot of the Windows-based software couldn’t be run from the command line without some modification, the command line was hard to bring up, it was all just a little bit awkward. The final straw came when the Ruby on Rails tutorial I was following essentially went “Windows is funny. Here. Run this package installer. Now, everyone else do this…” and went on to describe how each individual part of the Rails setup was installed. I didn’t want to miss out.

    Friends had said Macs were great for development, but I don’t have that kind of free money. So Linux it was!

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

    I’d used Ubuntu once before (I bought an Asus EEE way back when and tried a few different distros), so I thought that would make a good starting point. I was amazed at how much easier it was to install than my first tries about eight years ago. I had it up and going within an evening. It’s Ubuntu 14.04.

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

    Um…you see, it’s questions like this that both excite and scare me a little. I had to read through earlier responses to My Linux Rig just to begin to understand it. So I can use Ubuntu but change the way the front (the desktop environment) acts and behaves? Sweet — all that power! But knowing me, I’d be in danger of spending a few weeks trying them all.

    For now I’m sticking with Unity (for now — that’s three days in mind you), and I’m finding it great. I already reckon I’m faster with it than with the Windows 7 desktop, so I’m really not complaining. And I think it’s good looking too.

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

    I’m going to pick two, only one of which I’m sure about. Sublime Text 3 is a great text editor, and I sometimes think it’s reading my mind. I find myself writing everything on it: code, blog posts, letters, shopping lists, this. It’s a pleasure to use and since I’ve synced its settings folder using Dropbox, it’s exactly the same setup as I have in the office (on a Windows Vista machine…let’s not talk about that).

    The second is Guake Terminal. Hit F12 and bang! The terminal drops down from the top (just like in Doom! Or Quake! Am I showing my age?). This is great when working with a limited screen space and reading a tutorial and writing a file while I’m also running it from the terminal.

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

    It’s a Packard Bell laptop, 4GB RAM and an Intel i5.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Yes — although it’s a bit boring…

David Wickes' desktop

Interview conducted April 30, 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.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Linux Setup - Raymond Aldred, Academic

I found Raymond through Twitter, (where I seem to find more and more subjects…). His reasons for using Linux are pretty spectacular. A lot of subjects have touched on them but his answer is very comprehensive. Also, I apprecate his love of Mendeley. I’m a big fan of reference management.

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 Raymond Aldred. I am and do a lot of things, but I am primarily a PhD student in Philosophy at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. What do I do? I get a small amount of money to think about big questions, and help others (primarily undergraduates at McGill) do the same. The questions I am researching for my PhD thesis are questions about the nature of love and the mind, but I’m also interested in social justice issues, ethics, and human rights.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    This is a big question for me. I was teaching a small group of students in moral philosophy, and a few computer science students asked me why thinking about ethics was important to their chosen field. From there, I began to think about ethical questions that we rarely think about when we use our technology and practice computing. It seems to me we make ethical and political decisions all the time about technology, particularly about what operating systems we use. Should I use Windows, or Mac? Do I sacrifice certain freedoms and privacy simply because one system is easier for me to use? What if one company does not “play well” with others; should I still opt to support that company by paying for their technology? What if it’s revealed that one system makes less of an impact on environment and makes more positive contributions to humanity? Moreover, we use technology every single day, and these devices run certain software on them. When we use or pay for our technology, we are essentially supporting a company and becoming part of a community. The question for me became what sort of community do I want to be apart of? In making this choice, we can look at a variety of factors. Of course, Linux is easy to use these days, and I can get things done on it that I need to get done, but for me, Linux additionally became the best ethical option and a friendlier community to be a part of: it is less concerned with maximizing profit as proprietary software companies are (it’s more about freedom); using Linux reduces obsolescence and e-waste by fifty percent (this is not surprising because it places less demand on hardware); using Linux provides users with more freedom and control over their computing environment; and using Linux is more secure.

    Aside from that, there are also Linux-based projects that have the potential to help empower marginalized individuals and communities, by allowing them to be more technologically savvy. The Kano project, for example, is a cheap computer kit that allows children to build a computer and learn to code. One Laptop per Child is an organization that gives sturdy, open-source laptops to children in developing countries so they can learn about computing and technology. There are also organizations that recycle old computers by installing lightweight versions of Linux on them and giving them to individuals or families who may not be able to afford one. All of these projects are made possible because of free and open-source software and the communities that support them. It is this community that I choose to become a part of and support. To me, using Linux is the ethical choice, and I try to encourage others to use Linux too.

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

    I use two distributions. On my main laptop, I used to use Ubuntu, but I am not a fan of the way Canonical is moving these days. With this in mind, I’m slowly moving away from that distro and I’m currently using Mint for my research. I’ll probably switch to an Arch distro eventually, though (I hear it’s what all the cool kids are using).

    My other laptop has Kali Linux on it for hacking and learning about computer security.

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

    I’m using Cinnamon right now. It’s pretty and highly customizable.

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

    Most of the software that I use on my main laptop I can get on any distro, but I really enjoy Mendeley for keeping my academic bibliographies organized for papers. It is also really easy to use with LibreOffice for citing (this is something academics need to do all the time). Moreover, I can drag copies of the papers I’m citing into the program, and it will automatically create a citation for me. I can then look at certain sections of the paper, highlight, and make notes all within the program itself. It’s just a great academic tool, and it’s totally free.

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

    For my main machine, I use a Lenovo Thinkpad T440. It’s rugged and really holds together nicely for putting in my briefcase and taking to the office.

    For my hacking machine, I’m using a Sony VAIO T13 Ultrabook. It’s silver, light, shiny, sleek, and sexy.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure!

Raymond Aldred's desktop

Interview conducted April 3, 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.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What’s New With Ubuntu 14.04 — A New York Linux Users Group Talk

The New York Linux Users Group had a talk, “What’s new with Ubuntu LTS 14.04 (Trusty Tahr)?” last week, given by Mark Russell of Canonical. I checked it out (the video of the talk should eventually be here) and walked away with a few interesting tidbits. I’m not sure how earth-shattering any of this is, as I don’t follow Ubuntu development super closely, but these are the things that caught my ear:

  • The Unity bar doesn’t move so the interface is consistent between desktop and mobile.

  • On a related note, Canonical doesn’t use the term desktops anymore. Everything is a client.

  • Bloomberg pledged $80,000 for the Ubuntu Edge — both hardware and support. It made me think the death of Blackberry left a huge opportunity for enterprise mobile devices. $80,000 is nothing to a company like Bloomberg, but the fact that they entertained the idea of the devices at all is interesting.

The path of Unity has also been interesting. Mark said Canonical really wanted Unity 8, which uses Mir instead of the X window system, for 14.04, but it wasn’t ready — especially for a long-term support release. Canonical pushed out Unity very early and while I think the feedback they got helped to improve Unity quickly, I suspect it also soured a lot of people who never returned to it. When people talk about Unity, one of the first things they say is ‘it’s much better than it used to be!’ It’s true, but it’s not an ideal message from a marketing perspective. No one wants to eat in the restaurant that ‘won’t make you sick anymore.’

Speaking of 14.04, I’m using Xubuntu 14.04 on a new (to me) netbook and it’s great, as it always is. There will be more on that in another post.