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.


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, June 30, 2013

The Linux Setup - Igor Ljubuncic, Dedoimedo.com

I found Igor through Steven Rosenberg, and like Steven says, Igor is both knowledgeable and funny. Igor’s setup is cool because of the variety of hardware and distros he uses. I was most interested in the variety of desktop environments he uses. I find it tough enough flipping between GNOME3 and Windows 7. I’m not sure I’d be able to handle even just a third variable.

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 Igor Ljubuncic, I’m a Linux nerd, writer and a former physicist. I do a lot of things, but work-wise, I lead a team of people creating new, innovative solutions for high-performance Linux computing environments in a big company, which shall remain unnamed. It comes down to complex problem solving, optimization of operating system images, tons of bug-finding, and other neat stuff. Other than that, I really love writing books. In fact, the second book in my epic fantasy series The Lost Words is due any day now.

    Ed. note:: It’s been released.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    At home, I use Linux primarily for video editing and automation of tasks, and lots and lots of testing. Linux is a fairly flexible operating system, and you truly get to appreciate the power and simplicity once you start digging under the surface. That said, I also happily use other, proprietary operating systems.

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

    That’s a tough question, because I do not use any one machine for all tasks; rather, my machines have dedicated tasks based on their hardware, portability, and expendability. My desktop rigs run Kubuntu. Then, I have numerous laptops running Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Linux Mint, and CentOS, as well as many other test distros.

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

    I still think GNOME 2 was, and maybe still is, the most productive desktop environment. That said, I really like Cinnamon and the latest incarnations of Xfce. Then again, KDE is also very nice, and MATE isn’t bad either. But if I absolutely had to choose one, then it would be a really tough choice.

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

    I do not think there’s any software I use that is specifically restricted to this or that distribution. There are several important and useful programs that I sort of must have, but they run on all of these systems, so it’s no biggie. I also require several Windows-only applications, plus games, which is why Windows is still so prevalent in my setup.

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

    If this is the part where one brags about how nerdy they are, then we have the following:

    • Desktop rig: custom built, i5 processor, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GTX570 card, five hard disks, running Kubuntu Pangolin and Windows 7 in a dual-boot configuration.
    • Desktop rig: custom built, i3, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 550TI card, three hard disks, running the same setup as above.
    • One HP Pavilion laptop, with 4GB RAM and Nvidia card, running Lucid (still) and Windows 7 on the internal disk, and five distros on the external one, although I spend most of the time using Pangolin.
    • One LG laptop, with 4GB RAM and Nvidia card, currently with CentOS and several other distros in the process of being upgraded.
    • One Lenovo T61 laptop with 2GB RAM and Intel graphics, booting Ubuntu 12.04, Kubuntu 12.04, Linux Mint Maya, and an ever-changing fourth candidate.
    • One T42 laptop, with a 32-bit processor, 1.5GB RAM and ATI graphics, in the process of being upgraded.
    • One Asus eeePC netbook running Xubuntu Pangolin.
    • One Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet with Android Jelly Bean
    • One dedicated server machine for virtualization.
    • I also have three other laptops running Windows exclusively, plus several devices on loan for testing and such.
  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Which one? But here’s a sampling.

Igor Ljumuncic's desktop

Interview conducted May 7, 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, December 9, 2012

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.

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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Margarita Manterola’s desktop

Interview conducted 11/24/12


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.