Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Linux Setup - Andrey Hihlovskiy, Software Engineer

Andrey makes a fascinating point in his interview: that specific software isn’t important when you have choice. For instance, Andrey doesn’t rely on one type of text editor. Instead, he has a few different text editors, in case there’s an issue with one. While it’s nice to have just one piece of software for one type of task, the reality is most of us have some redundancy in our setups, since there aren’t many pieces of software that are completely flawless. Choice allows us to make software perfect by committee.

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 Andrey Hihlovskiy, I am a Russian software engineer working and living in Bonn, Germany. I work for a German company, startext GmbH. We develop software for archives and museums in Germany and other countries.

    I’m passionate about interpreted languages and open-source software. My tools include Groovy, Gradle, Git and many modern JVM-based frameworks and libraries.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux at work as well as at home. A Linux system for a programmer is like water for a fish—you just live in it. The whole stack—from bash and tcpdump to build tools to IDEs—is open, modular, fast and reliable.

    The ext4 file system is a blessing. It is extremely fast and reliable. I haven’t had any performance or integrity problems with it for years. I reinstall Linux systems once or twice a year; just out of curiosity about new versions or alternate desktops. But I leave /home intact so it just works. Of course, all important files are synced elsewhere, so surviving probable future hard drive failure is not a problem.

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

    Currently it is Linux Mint 17 64-bit.

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

    On power machines I use Cinnamon. Nowadays it is a very stable and usable DE, requiring very little (if any) tweaking after installation.

    On legacy machines I use Xfce. Sometimes it seems to be less convenient than Cinnamon, but it is still extremely fast and very stable.

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

    I don’t depend on any particular piece of Linux software. Quite the reverse, I enjoy the interchangeability of all parts. If gedit could not open a 500MB text file, I use Mousepad for it. If diffuse stumbles on comparing files, I use meld instead. Every popular program has alternatives.

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

    Power machines: Intel i5 with 16GB operating memory and 500GB hard drive.

    Legacy machines: Intel Atom, 1GB operating memory, 100GB hard drive.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Yes!

Andrey Hihlovskiy's desktop

Interview conducted August 4, 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 24, 2014

The Linux Setup - Morgan Phillips, Software Engineer/Poet

I found Morgan through Linux Poetry, which is an amazing site (this poem is one of my favorites). Reading her thoughts on Linux, you can hear her poetry skills: “working in Linux is like swimming in water that’s crystal clear.” Her setup is fairly standard for an engineer — pretty much anything that gives her access to a terminal.

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 Morgan, aka mrrrgn. I studied physics at Western Kentucky University, worked for the Army Research Laboratory and a small defense contractor writing network security software, then spent time at Facebook in an ops role where I was sort of a… data janitor, helping to maintain their Hadoop/Hive-based analytics infrastructure. These days I’m a software engineer at a startup in Nashville, Tennessee called Artist Growth where I get to do a bit of everything (which I love). I also write poetry about the Linux kernel at linux-poetry.com and maintain a small galaxy of other side projects. :)

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Well, I’m going to gush a bit. On a philosophical level Linux has always appealed to me because I feel that it represents a sort of freedom: to share knowledge and understand how the tools I depend on work. Working in Linux is like swimming in water that’s crystal clear; proprietary operating systems, where I can’t see the source, feel murky and make me feel a bit uneasy.

    In a practical sense, I feel that Linux’s sensible implementation and infinite flexibility make it the best tool for nearly any job. It’s easy for me to write scripts that automate tedious tasks and customize my environment to the hilt. I also believe using Linux has made me a better programmer since it makes the layers underneath my own code so transparent.

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

    I generally run Mint these days, although I’ve used openSUSE and Ubuntu in the past.

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

    Cinnamon. I started using this after I switched to Mint. I spend most of my time in the terminal so I’m not too picky.

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

    Honestly, I don’t depend on anything that’s specific to Mint. That said, I think Mint (like Ubuntu) is awesome for its stability and ease-of-use for arch nerds and computer novices alike. I installed it for my not-at-all-computer-savvy father a few years ago and noticed a significant drop in the number of “support” calls I got from him as compared to when he used Windows.

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

    A Clevo W230ST. It’s a beast of a laptop!

    • i7-4700MQ Processor (2.40GHz), 6MB L3 Cache
    • GTX 765M
    • 16GB DDR3
    • 256GB SSD
  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    I don’t keep anything interesting on the desktop; but you might notice that I <3 tmux, vim, and orange text!

Morgan Phillips' desktop

Interview conducted April 29, 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, June 5, 2014 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.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Linux Setup - Spencer Hunley, Accessibility Advocate

I met Spencer at LinuxCon, where he gave a talk on how Linux can help out the disabled community. The talk itself was great, but the reaction in the room was what most impressed me. Spencer introduced the issue of accessibility for the disabled to quite a few attendees and a lot of the people in the room seemed very interested in lending their time and skills to the cause. It reminded me how much Linux is a community, as much as it’s a project or a business or a technology. So many developers care about users as much as they care about code.

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 Spencer Hunley; I am an autistic professional (diagnosed at the age of 17) and I am working to lower the cost of assistive technology by using FOSS and Linux-based software. There’s a lot of great assistive technology applications in the Linux ecosystem, and I believe that Linux can be a gateway for people with disabilities to become programmers, developers, system engineers, and much more.

    In my day job, I work in research for a private company.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I didn’t even know Linux existed until about 2007, I believe. A professor by the name of Dempsey Yearry showed the class a glimpse of Red Hat one day, and I was immediately curious. Dealing with the pitfalls of the average Windows installation (weekly defragging, cleaning, anti-virus/malware/spyware scans, etc) encouraged my decision to try something new. My first distribution was Ubuntu, and I was hooked.

    I use Linux for many reasons. Personally, I enjoy and am more comfortable with the level of control I have over my own system. I also like the fact that it’s not owned by one private company or individual, and that there’s a massive, global community that works with each other from the simplest of issues to the most complex. I also like trying new distros, learning new things, and making the system my own — it’s fun and interesting.

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

    Currently I’m running Linux Mint 15. It’s stable, reliable, fast and works for my everyday use. But on my netbook I’m running Peppermint Four, of which is keeping my old Asus EeePC 900 alive.

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

    Right now I’m using Cinnamon on the main laptop. I was transitioning from Xubuntu on my old laptop, and wanted something with a bit of eye candy but functionality and speed as well. I really like the themes that you can download through Mint’s site — there are some really creative and pleasing designs there. I haven’t had any issues so far, and I think it’s a fantastic environment.

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

    That’s a tough question. Most of what I use on a daily basis is distro-agnostic (LibreOffice suite, Firefox, Chrome, Unetbootin, Thunderbird, Transmission, etc). Aside from that I guess I depend on Mint’s update manager, but I’ve always enjoyed using Synaptic.

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

    Right now, I’m running it on a 3-month old 17.3” Asus N76VJ-DH71 with an i7 core (max speed 3.4GHz), 16GB RAM, two 1TB 7200 RPM hard drives, 2GB nVIDIA GT 635M graphics card (with Optimus, unfortunately), and Blu-ray ROM with SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW Dual Layer optical drive, with four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, VGA and a card reader.

    It’s a beast of a laptop, and battery life is limited, but it’s meant as a desktop replacement (which is no problem since it won’t be leaving the house much). Aside from having to go through the hassle to remove Windows 8, the Linux experience on it has been relatively painless. The audio is amazing, the fit and finish is superb, and I am a big fan of the backlit keyboard. I plan to stick with this computer for 5 to 10 years.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure!

Spencer Hunley's desktop

Interview conducted September 25, 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.


Thursday, October 24, 2013 Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Linux Setup - Thomas Backlund, Blockie.io

Thomas has a great story, which he touches upon in his answers. Basically, he works in the forests of Sweden to help keep down his expenses. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon. I have an upcoming interview with an American doing something similar in the super-expensive Bay Area. Interestingly, Thomas’s interview doesn’t mention the advantageous pricing of Linux systems. It’s very impressive to see how much work Thomas gets done using just a laptop and an Internet connection. It’s also very impressive that he’s redefined the concept of forest development.

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 Thomas Backlund, I’m the founder of Blockie.io.

    I quit my apartment to live in the forest in a tent to write code. Blockie.io is a kind of a backend-as-a-service (BaaS) where you can build your functionality purely using logical thinking and not doing any coding at all. Besides serving front-end apps, people will be able to hook functionality together in quite interesting ways. I’m really looking forward to see how it will be used when launched.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Many reasons. Using Linux on servers feels very obvious and therefore also using it as development environment comes naturally. For a coder it’s just very good with all of the tools it comes with.

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

    Ubuntu 13.04 64-bit.

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

    Cinnamon. I like when the environment is a bit lighter. I have a high-contrast theme on that since I’m coding outdoors and the glare of the sun must be considered.

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

    I wanted something derived from Debian since I’m using that on servers and Ubuntu has good drivers for new hardware. Software I really depend upon (not Ubuntu-specific) includes Vim, tmux, zsh, and Synapse. I also use a mail-notifier so that I don’t unnecessary peek into the browser and waste time.

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

    I use a Samsung Series 9 laptop 15”.

    • Memory: 8GB
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-3517U CPU @ 1.90GHz × 4
    • Graphics: Intel Ivybridge Mobile
    • Disk: 128GB SSD.

    I did have two Catleap monitors hooked up to it before I quit my apartment; Ubuntu 32-bit was then the distro that could handle this, of the ones I tried.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure thing, meet the Blockie.io cat.

Thomas Backlund's desktop

Interview conducted August 1, 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.


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Linux Setup - Dmitry, Linux Notes From DarkDuck

Dmitry interviewed me a few weeks ago and I thought it would be fun to repay the favor. By far the most interesting aspect of this setup is the fact that Dmitry chooses his distro by his mood at a given moment. Given that he’s running three different desktop environments on three different distros, that’s a pretty neat feat of mental gymnastics. I find it hard enough when I have to move from Chrome to Firefox.

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 Dmitry, but on the Internet I prefer my nickname, DarkDuck. I am the person behind Linux Notes From DarkDuck.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    At one point I understood that Windows XP took about 10 minutes to boot on my laptop. Also, I understood that Linux ran on my smartphone HTC Desire at that time. I decided to give Linux a go, and since then I am in the Linux world.

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

    I run three Linux distributions on my laptop:

    • Debian 7.0 Xfce – because of the rock-solid stability of Debian. It also controls my GRUB2.
    • Mageia KDE – because I am in love with Mageia since day 1.
    • Linux Mint Cinnamon – because I really think this is a good combination of convenience, performance and functionality. I must admit that I disliked Mint in their early versions, mostly due to their overly complex menu. In my opinion, the current version does not have this issue.

    All of these are 64-bit. The “choice for the day” depends on my mood, but Mageia is the default option in the GRUB config.

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

    • Xfce – because it’s light and has all the features I need.
    • KDE – because of the eye-candy, of course.
    • Cinnamon – just to try something new.
  5. What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?

    I can’t say that I depend on any particular software. Although, I have some personal preferences: Chrome(-ium) over Firefox, VLC over other media players, LibreOffice over CalligraSuite or GNOME Office.

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

    My current laptop is a SONY VAIO VGN-NR21Z with dual core 2.1GHz Intel processor, 3GB RAM, 500Gb HDD, NVidia graphic card, Intel 4965AGN Wireless card.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

DarkDuck's Debian desktop
Debian Xfce

DarkDuck's Linux Mint desktop
Mint Cinnamon

DarkDuck's Mageia desktop
Mageia KDE

Interview conducted June 12, 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.