Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Linux Setup - Graham Morrison, Linux Voice

It’s no secret I’ve been pretty excited about Linux Voice, a brand new Linux magazine. Issue 1 came out last week and as expected, it’s great, exhaustively (and humorously) covering desktop Linux like no other publication. This week, I got to interview Graham, the magazine’s editor. He’s a KDE guy with some interesting ideas about how to make that desktop less intimidating to new users. He’s also a big fan of Arch, which when factored in with the KDE usage, pretty much says everything about his Linux chops.

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?

    Hello! My name is Graham Morrison and I’m the editor of Linux Voice, the new crowdfunded Linux magazine and podcast. In truth, the magazine is an equal partnership between the four of us, so it’s more of an honorary title. I get the unenviable task of trying to coerce everyone into some sort of schedule, as well as sneaking in as many Blade Runner references as I can. But I get to spend every day playing with Linux, which is awesome.

    Outside of putting the magazine together, I’ve recently got into homebrewing beer, thanks to the BrewPi, and I spend far too much time playing Galaga on an old arcade machine. I bought it for £200 and replaced the PCB with an ancient PC running Manjaro Linux connected via J-PAC and JAMMA interfaces to the original controls. If I ever have the time, I also tinker with my own multi-layered, polyphonic, polyrhythmic MIDI step sequencer called ‘meeq.’

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I used to love an Amiga music sequencer called ‘Bars & Pipes’ (this is about 1991). It was unique because it allowed you to pipe music data through various modules that manipulated the sound in some way. You could send every third note through an octave transposition, for example, or send minor chords into a random arpeggiator. It was the MIDI equivalent of Bash. But Bars & Pipes was bought by Microsoft who subsequently ceased development and rolled the technology into Direct Music. To Microsoft’s credit, it eventually released the source code. But it was many years too late and it wasn’t open source.

    Later, around 1998, I was trying to learn C++ and using Visual Studio on Windows. I was shocked to discover I couldn’t freely share my code or build on what other people had done. It just seemed counterintuitive. I’m a pragmatist. I don’t want to invest my time and effort into technology that can be held ransom. All of which led to what I consider simply the best option: Linux and Free Software.

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

    I’ve run Arch for a couple of years. I like its minimalism and the way you end up knowing every installed component. I’m not massively keen on having to check the Arch website before upgrades (because things break), or the way you have to start from scratch with every fresh install. Getting hold of the latest releases is one of the most important parts of my job, and the Arch User Repository is the best way I’ve found of getting hold of software that more often than not installs. I love the way it bundles the source code, and the way you can rollback packages. It’s also relatively straightforward to modify packages yourself, which I’ve occasionally found useful. At the moment, I’ve also got Mageia 4, Fedora 20 and Mint 16 installed on the same machine.

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

    To continue my C++ programming adventures, I switched to Linux. My only real options for development were Qt and KDE, and that resulted in a photo management app called ‘Kalbum’, which I released in 2003, along with a lifelong love of KDE. KDE can be made to look awesome, and I like having all that configurability. Dolphin is a great file manager (although I still prefer Konqueror), and I don’t think any other desktop is so well integrated with a core suite of applications: Digikam, Konsole, Kate, K3b, Kopete, Amarok, KMail, Calligra and Gwenview all combine to create a great user experience. But that’s only after you’ve spent time making the desktop how you like it. I do think KDE’s default configuration puts off a lot of new users. The blue glow around windows, for example, should be replaced by a default drop-shadow and the whole locking/unlocking widgets idea seems convoluted.

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

    Is pacman a fair response? It’s a great package manager. Other than that, there’s the humble text editor: Kate is very useful, and its JavaScript snippets are very powerful for text processing, although a little bug-ridden. Also, there’s no on-screen word count. My favorite text editor, however, is FocusWriter. It’s a distraction free environment that’s brilliant for writing words. If I could only turn the Internet off, I’d be 1000% more productive.

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

    My desktop PC is a 3.3Ghz Core i5 with 16GB RAM, five hard drives of varying capacity, and an Nvidia Geforce GTX570 GPU w/1280MB of DDR5 RAM. It’s connected to a 27” 2560x1440 IPS LCD screen I bought directly from South Korea on eBay (it needs an injected EDID file though xorg.conf to work, which is a pain). My keyboard is a backlit Logitech K800, which is awesome, along with a Logitech MX Lazer mouse.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Graham Morrison's desktop

Interview conducted February 8, 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.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Manjaro Past, Present and Future: A Virtual Roundtable

screenshot of Manjaro site

Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching Manjaro rise in popularity (at least according to Distrowatch and Internet chatter). Manjaro, a fork of Arch Linux, is often divisive, one of those distros that people either love or hate, with not much in-between.

Building upon Arch is a bold move, given that it’s a philosophy as much as it’s a distribution. Arch is deliberately complex in order to give users the most control over their system. Manjaro’s goal of simplifying Arch can be seen as compromising that philosophy. But given Manjaro’s popularity, it’s filling a need for users who want a simpler Arch implementation — even at the cost of control over their system.

I played with Manjaro for a few weeks and ultimately, it wasn’t for me. But after exploring the distro and researching it, I was curious about the project, so I reached out to the project leaders, who shared my questions with some other Manjaro team members.

Manjaro’s ultimate goal seems to be creating a user-friendly, stable, rolling distribution. It’s a bold goal, but one that speaks to a lot of users.

  1. What is your name, title, and role within Manjaro?

    Philip: My name is Philip Mueller. I’m one of the project leaders of Manjaro. I work with a lot of aspects of the Manjaro project.
    I created ManjaroISO, our install-media creation tool, and work on MHWD (Manjaro Hard Ware Detection tool), which simplifies the driver installation for all devices. One of my biggest jobs is package and mirror management. We have a tool called Boxit which gets all needed packages from Arch Linux and merges them with our own packages on our servers. Also I’m involved with the support team and answer as many questions I can.

    handy: Support team member. I provide support where I can to forum users and write tutorials and wiki pages.

    Verändert: Support team member. I provide support where I can to forum users.

    Quantum is a former support team member.

  2. How would you describe Manjaro to a new user?

    Philip: Manjaro is a user-friendly community around an Arch-based distro. You find people who use and share their experience with and about Manjaro. Everybody is welcome to find his place in our community. And yes, it is an OS for beginners willing to learn and those who want to have full power off their system.

    handy: Manjaro uses the Arch rolling release package management system which I consider to be the best package maintenance system available for desktop computer users. It enables a user to install once and then upgrade their system daily if they so choose. This system obviates the need to re-install their OS until their machine has the type of hardware failure that requires re-installation (most likely a HDD failure).

    Manjaro uses the packages from the Arch official repos which go through a relatively brief testing and integration phase, where the packages from the Arch repos are combined with the Manjaro specific packages; adjustments are made where required. The packages quickly move from unstable to the testing repo, before being made available in the Manjaro stable repos. All of this is being done in an effort to keep Manjaro as stable and reliable as possible, which is of course particularly useful to those inexperienced in the ways of Linux and/or the Arch rolling release system.

    Manjaro also uses tools to make its initial installation, including hardware identification and driver management, much easier than the Arch Linux method. This area, amongst others, is still in the process of being developed and improved.

  3. What are the plans for Manjaro?

    Philip: One of our plans will be to finish our graphical installer, which we are still coding on. The current one is borrowed from Linux Mint.

    Also we are working to optimize package management. Graphical tools are planned to improve the user experience with Manjaro. A start is our Manjaro Settings Tool. We will add more plugins in the near future. ManjaroISO will get a nice graphical interface so people can simply click their own system in a few steps to have a custom spin of Manjaro for their own needs. So there is a lot to come before we have a “final” Manjaro 1.0 release.

    Verändert: To make Manjaro the best operating system there is and eventually take over the world.

  4. To what extent is it a fork of Arch? How different are the two distributions? How similar are they?

    Philip: Manjaro is Archlinux - with extra spice. You can use the knowledge you already have from Arch Linux and do the same as in the upstream project. AUR support is there. You feel home right from the beginning. We added new features like mhwd, a graphical installer, and graphical tools for common uses. Multible kernels will enhance the support of different systems and additional extra modules for special hardware on each series. You install Manjaro once and simply update it.

    Quantum: Manjaro is deeply enhanced Arch Linux. We take care of all the basic configuration, so you can get right to actual work. If you have a background in Arch, you can leverage that knowledge and do anything you can do in the upstream project,

    Verändert: The kernel and the really cool Manjaro hardware detection are made by Manjaro developers. The rest is coming from Arch. There simply is no need to reinvent the wheel here: Arch rocks, it just isn’t (and doesn’t want to be) newbie-friendly. That’s where Manjaro steps in. It takes the best base around and adds tools to flatten the learning curve.

  5. What are the challenges of maintaining a rolling distribution? Is it realistic to expect rolling distros to work for newer Linux users?

    Philip: You have to have a concept to maintain the packages in a small team like ours. We use Arch’s packages since they are mostly stable and up-to-date, so we don’t have to worry much on outdated packages. With BoxIt we create snapshots we use to build our own additional packages and merge them to the whole. Those snapshots will be tested by our community before they got moved to the stable branch. So there is a small delay between Manjaro and Arch. You will find updates later in our stable branch than in the upstream project.

    handy: The main challenge as I see it is for users to become familiar with how the rolling release system works. That means how to use pacman in the terminal, how to use the GUI pacman wrapper(s). Work is going on to improve the GUI tools in this regard, so people shouldn’t forget that Manjaro still has a way to go before it reaches release 1.0.

    As far as the rolling release system and newer Linux users are concerned, I think that at this stage of Manjaro development, some fresh Linux users will find it too hard (especially if they have some kind of installation difficulty). If the user is prepared to learn how the rolling release package management system works (which as previously stated, will get easier in Manjaro’s future), they are very likely to fall in love with it, as it makes their computing life so much easier.

  6. There’s been some discussion within the Arch community about the stability and security of Manjaro. How do you respond to the accusation Manjaro isn’t as secure or as stable as Arch?

    Philip: We are as stable as Arch Linux is. Due our extra testing we might be even more stable than the upstream project. Having a slight delay might give you the feeling we aren’t as secure as Arch might be. I always tell users concerned about that to use our unstable branch, which we update almost daily, as Arch Linux does. You might find some quirks if you do so since we have to solve them first and test them later in our testing branch. You can choose how stable or bleeding edge Manjaro should be for you. You get stability over security on our stable branch since there is a week or so delay between stable and unstable. Also, there was some talk about our install medias using the same signature master key. This issue is solved since the 0.8.6 release.

    handy: There was a potential security problem pointed out in February this year (if I remember correctly) which was remedied shortly after. Beyond that, our stable repos being delayed a week or so from those of Arch, is very unlikely to pose a security threat to Manjaro. We prefer to have stability over instability in this regard. If a serious security threat arose that warranted quick action on behalf of the Manjaro package management team, then such action would of course be taken, pronto.

    Verändert: I would say that Manjaro is a tad more stable than Arch because packages are tested for another week before getting released from Manjaro. During that week, Manjaro might be less secure than Arch, because a package fixing a security hole might also been withheld. On the other hand, if some new package in Arch is insecure, it can be withheld by the Manjaro developers. That said, I believe neither Arch nor Manjaro are insecure or unstable.

  7. screenshot of The Arch Way from the Arch wiki

  8. Why do you think some in the Arch community (and within the Arch project) have had such a strong and negative response to Manjaro?

    Philip: As we “borrow” their packages we seem to be lazy packagers in their eyes. Also we do things they never would do — against The Arch Way — making Arch easy for beginners. Arch was always for experienced users. Now there are third-party projects shaking it up and down as they like it, and even being successful with it. Some hate us and some love us. We are different. Not everybody can be pleased. We love Arch Linux but there is always a possibility to change our base. Not everybody likes Ubuntu, Mint, or even Debian, but they all use the same base. We try to give our community an opportunity to do whatever they want to do with their systems and get support from a friendly bunch of people.

    Quantum: Some in the Arch community object to making Arch ‘easy,’ ostensibly lowering the bar for users. But our goal and purpose is to create a distro that is based on solid and current software, which is already set up so that you don’t have to spend days and weeks creating config files, installing GUI tools and every single little app and library, and tweaking everything. Our community has drawn users with all backgrounds in Linux, from beginners to the most advanced.

    Verändert: First of all, I’m quite sure that the majority of people that develop or use Arch like us as we like them. In the small Linux universe, you will always have some that think that any spin-off is done by leechers that don’t cherish the work of the makers of the original distribution enough. That’s in no way Arch-specific. People just think that the work that is being put into Manjaro should be put into Arch proper. Which is wrong, since Arch doesn’t want to be beginner-friendly. The developers want you to set up your system yourself and learn by doing so. Which is perfectly fine, it just isn’t for everybody. I had used Arch myself and failed miserably when it changed to systemd. I really tried hard to keep my computer up and running and found that I neither had the time nor the knowledge to do so for a long time. And while I’m familiar with the terminal, I prefer using a GUI application. While I’m thankful for the Arch developers’ hard work that Manjaro relies upon, I prefer to have a bit more of stability. That’s why I use Manjaro now.

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


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Linux Setup - Matt Hartley, Linux Action Show

A reader suggested Matt as an interview subject and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t reached out to him sooner. I’m most familiar with Matt’s work from Linux Action Show, but as you can see, he has his hands in a lot of projects. I’m most impressed by Matt’s ability to easily hop between both distributions and desktop environments. If I had Matt’s setups, I feel like I’d constantly be apt-getting in OpenSUSE and looking for pacman in Ubuntu. Also, Matt strongly recommends Synapse as an application launcher/file finder. It wasn’t on my radar but thanks to Matt, it now is (as is kupfer, another launcher that was recommended in the comments of this post).

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 just a long-time Linux enthusiast, currently working a variety of gigs including Jupiter Broadcasting (Linux Action Show) and at Datamation.com.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    What started out as an adventure years ago became a matter of practicality today. It’s fast, stable and I control the environment I choose to run with.

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

    Currently Arch on my daily box, with OpenSUSE 12.3 on my portable. I have a newer workhorse running Ubuntu 13.04.

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

    Xfce on my daily box (due to resource usage), KDE on my portable (OpenSUSE does great things with KDE), and Unity on my Ubuntu box.

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

    The keyboard launcher known as Synapse. The collective hours it has saved me finding apps, docs and images is beyond measure. It’s the best application on Linux running under X, hands down.

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

    My main PC is an old Ratel Value (ATI graphics) from System76. The portable is the Eee 1005PEB (Intel graphics), and lastly, the Ubuntu rig is a System76 Wild Dog Performance (NVIDIA graphics). The first two rigs run with 2GB RAM, the latter with four. My main system runs with two monitors.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Dual-desktop (Samsung monitors),Linus to NVIDIA and Oscar the Grouch wallpapers.

Matt Hartley's desktop

Interview conducted June 17, 2013


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 13, 2013

The Linux Setup - Alexandre Filgueira, Antergos Linux

Maybe 2013 won’t be the year of the Linux desktop (unless it is…), but it might be the year of Arch variants. Manjaro is climbing the DistroWatch charts, as are Chakra and Antergos. These are all built upon Arch, trying to provide a quicker, easier installation experience for users who want a bleeding-edge, rolling release distribution. Alexandre is a part of that movement as the person behind Antergos, formerly known as Cinnarch. These Arch variants, like Antergos, fill a need for people who want to quickly try a distro without spending a lot of time setting things up. It’s not The Arch Way to opt-out of certain configuration decisions, but it is The Convenient Way. People like Alexandre are making Arch more accessible to a wider user base, and while there’s a fair amount of online debate about if that’s a good idea, if the DistroWatch numbers are any indication, it does seem to speak to a fair number of users. Alexandre’s work is all the more impressive when you see his setup, which is simple, yet well thought-out.

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 Alexandre Filgueira, or faidoc on the Internet. I’m a Spanish system administrator currently teaching kids and older people how to use a computer and basic office/HTML/Internet, waiting for September to come so I can move to Lima, Peru with my girlfriend.

    I’m also the founder of a GNU/Linux distribution called Antergos (aka Cinnarch), based on Arch Linux and focusing on a more user-friendly experience since the beginning. I’m also an Arch Linux Trusted User, maintaining Cinnamon-related packages there.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux because I think it’s the best OS on the market to suit my needs. The freedom Linux gives me is what I always wanted. I always had curiosity about how things work, so I couldn’t find a better choice than Linux.

    I began with Ubuntu 5.04 when I was 15 years old, just to see what Linux was about. I switched to Linux from Windows that year. I found Arch Linux when I was 18 years old and fell in love with it.

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

    Since 2008 I’ve had pure Arch on each of my machines. Now I use Antergos, my own project, as my main distro, so I haven’t actually abandoned Arch Linux.

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

    I was using Cinnamon until GNOME 3.8 came out. Now I’m happy with GNOME and its improvements. I thought I would never come back when I saw how GNOME 3.4 was shaping up. It still has some things that I dislike, but there are plenty of extensions to fit my needs if I want to change certain behaviors. I also keep Cinnamon installed to do tests and because I’m the maintainer in Arch Linux as a Trusted User.

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

    There are a couple of “must-have” apps on my laptop. They are Sublime Text to code, VLC to play videos, pacman as package manager, Chromium as web browser, SpiderOak to sync my important data, and of course a terminal. I couldn’t have a computer without these apps. They make my life easier.

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

    My main workstation is an Asus with an i7 second-generation processor (2,20GHz x 8), 4GB DDR3 RAM, 120GB SSD, and Nvidia Optimus Geforce 540M.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure, I use a very standard Antergos set up.

Alexandre Filgueira's desktop

Interview conducted May 19, 2013


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.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Linux Setup - Dolores Portalatin, Admin/Designer

Dolores has an interesting setup, especially her window manager, but I’m really most impressed by the amount of outreach she does in the Linux and Free and Open Source communities. I found Dolores through Arch Linux Women, as I was trying to diversify the kind of people I interview here. Linux is an amazing concept that speaks to lots of different people, but the public face can be a bit homogenous. Dolores and her work helps to more accurately represent the typical Linux users, which seems to be getting less typical—both demographically and in terms of technical skill—all of the time.

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

You can follow us on Google+ here.

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

    My name is Dolores Portalatin aka meskarune. I work for Linode LLC, a VPS hosting company and do some freelance work in graphic and web design. I first switched to Linux in 1998 (one guess why) and haven’t looked back. I spend my free time painting and contributing to various open source projects. My primary focus for the last seven years has been on Arch Linux. In 2012 I founded Arch Linux Women - an organization that aims to increase the contributions of women to Arch Linux and FOSS in general.

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

    I used to be a Debian user, but wanted something more updated. After distro-hopping for about a year, I found Arch and really loved it. I have Arch Linux installed on all of my computers and production servers. I occasionally play with FreeBSD and Haiku as well but don’t use them as my main OS.

  3. What software do you depend upon with this distribution?

    I use herbstluftwm (hlwm) as my window manager. Hlwm is a manual tiling window manager similar to i3. It’s very fast and flexible and you can write scripts for it in any language. I use urxvt as my terminal emulator and vim for text editing. I have some Python and bash scripts for server monitoring and use tools like Munin and AWstats. I use WeeChat for IRC, Pine for email, and newsbeuter for RSS feeds. Midori and ELinks are my primary web browsers (Midori has very low resource usage, which is great for netbooks). For graphic design, I use GIMP, Inkscape and ImageMagick. The great thing about using libre software is the lack of copyright and licensing concerns. I think more people should adopt these tools in their work.

  4. What kind of hardware do you run it on?

    I have a home-built desktop computer I use as my work horse, a small computer with two HDTV’s for monitors as a media center/file server, some Linode VPSs and an ASUS Eee PC netbook that I use to ssh into my other boxes. I like having the netbook for mobility, so I can work at the coffee shop or in the park.

  5. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    I would love to have something like the MetroNap EnergyPod, with a huge overhead monitor, built-in speakers and a wireless split keyboard. I’d love a netbook with four cores and a 24-hour battery life too (I don’t think they exist yet). Having video glasses would also be fun, but I don’t know how practical they are.

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure.

desktop

Interview conducted January 22, 2013


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 us on Google+ here and subscribe to our feed here.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Linux Setup - Amelia Andersdotter, EU Parliament

Amelia Andersdotter, 24, is the youngest member of the current European Parliament. She’s a member of the Swedish Pirate Party, a political party centered around copyright and patent reform. Given her political interests, it’s probably not a surprise that Amelia is a Linux user.

Amelia’s setup is fairly standard. But her Arch-broken XServer issue resonated with me, since that’s what forced me off of Arch a few years ago. Members of Parliament really are just like you and me!

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

You can follow us on Google+ here.

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

    I’m just in the process of changing my hardware. My old netbook, which is currently in semi-use, was an Asus Eee PC 1005PE, and ran Arch Linux with awesome window manager (awesome is the name of the window manager). Unfortunately, after the last awesome update, the package broke, my XServer refused to cooperate so for one month I was exiled in Fluxbox.

    I also have an Asus K73S which is running Fedora (since one week ago). I’m completely new to Fedora and haven’t explored the potential of the system yet – the graphical interface leaves something to be desired but I also haven’t spent much time configuring this laptop. I like that Fedora chose to remain with kernel 2.6 because things work better with 2.6. On the Eee PC I experienced that the computer got slower after upgrading to 3.0, and even if nothing broke (like, how XServers normally like to break) it was still a bit of a pain. Emacs in Fedora does not include Tetris, since apparently there is some company in the US which may be able to make a trademark claim against someone if it were included.

  2. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    An ideal setup for me would be something like… Arch Linux, with a tiling window manager (I currently have my eyes on i3wm), Emacs, Firefox, Thunderbird, with urxvt as a terminal emulator.

Interview conducted January 10, 2012


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 us on Google+ here and subscribe to our feed here.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011 Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Linux Setup - Jonathan Roberts, TuxRadar Podcast

One of my favorite podcasts, Linux or otherwise, is TuxRadar, which is produced by the editorial team of Linux Format magazine, an English publication. Jonathan Roberts is a TuxRadar host presenter/Linux Format editor, so I was especially excited to see what kind of system he uses.

Also, if you’re not already listening to TuxRadar, it’s something you definitely want to do. It’s funny, informative, and thought-provoking. And the European perspective can be especially enlightening.

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

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

    My name is Jonathan Roberts and I recently became the staff writer for Linux Format magazine. The magazine’s permanent staff also put together a fortnightly podcast called TuxRadar, so since joining I’ve also been a contributor to the podcast. It’s mostly about Linux, but always lots of fun.

    Before joining the team at Linux Format, I studied Theology at Exeter University. I also contributed to the Fedora Project in various guises, where I was known as JonRob, ran the Questions Please podcast (http://www.archive.org/details/QuestionsPleaseOnFreeSoftware) and attempted (but failed) to launch a campaign promoting free culture called Free Me (http://www.archive.org/details/FreeMe_DVD).

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

    I run Arch Linux, and I love it. It’s fast, always up to date and is actually the most stable Linux distribution I’ve ever used. It takes a little while to get set up, but thanks to the amazing Beginners Guide anyone can do it and it’s well worth the investment.

  3. What software do you depend upon with this distribution?

    I’m not that fussy about software and often experiment with different options to see what works best for me. At the moment, I write my articles in Vim, and I use Chromium a lot for research etc. I used to use gedit, but when preparing an article on the 50 best Linux applications, Vim got such glowing reviews that I had to give it a go!

    I also use VirtualBox for testing distributions or setting up servers/development environments when researching an article. It saves me breaking my system and having to re-install it all the time.

  4. What kind of hardware do you run it on?

    I use a Toshiba Satellite laptop - an R630 to be exact. It’s a great machine, and it was a real bargain too. It has 2GB RAM - I’d love another 2GB sometime soon - a Core i3 processor, integrated Intel graphics and a Broadcom wireless chip that uses the open source drivers. Everything works out of the box with 2.6.38+, so it’s an ideal machine in my mind.

    As well as all those components, it’s got a 13-inch screen, is incredibly thin and light with a 3-4 hour battery life. Since I carry it to and from work everyday, these are really important features to me.

  5. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    Just give me another 2GB RAM and I’ll be thrilled.

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure, though there’s not a lot to see since Gnome Shell hides everything! When I’m at work I have an external monitor and keyboard connected as well, hence the strange look of the screenshot.

Jonathan Robert's desktop

Interview conducted 9/12/11


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.