Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Linux Setup - Tom Callaway, Red Hat

As near as I can tell, the overlap between hockey fans and Linux fans is pretty small. By my informal, unscientific count, there’s me, there’s Jorge Castro, and now we can add Tom Callaway to the list. I actually found him through a shared disdain for NBC’s NHL coverage but his Linux credentials are very impressive. Tom is a GNOME user who takes advantage of its extensive extension collection. I know GNOME has taken some customization options out of the base install, but with extensions, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t more flexibility in the project now.

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 Inigo Mont… err… Tom Callaway. I’ve been interested in Linux and FOSS in general since 1997, and employed by Red Hat since 2001. My current job is in the Open Source & Standards team in the Red Hat CTO Office. I am leading up the effort within Red Hat to promote Free and Open Source Software in education. I also do work to promote open hardware and support 3D printers on Fedora. Last, but not least, I handle Fedora’s legal issues (but am not a lawyer). I maintain around 300 packages in Fedora.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I started using Linux because I was frustrated at how inflexible Windows was. I still use it because I believe in the power of FOSS to innovate, and I love digging into things, discovering how they work, and making changes.

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

    Fedora 20.

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

    I’ve upgraded to GNOME 3.12, with a number of extensions to make it more usable for me. Currently, I use these:

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

    Hmm. I’m not sure I depend on one particular piece of software. I tend to use Thunderbird an awful lot for email, calendar and RSS reading.

    The apps I open on startup are:

    • XChat
    • Pidgin
    • Pithos (Pandora GUI client)
    • gnome-terminal
    • Firefox
    • Thunderbird
    • Corebird (Twitter GUI client)
    • Tomboy (sticky notes)
  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    A Lenovo T440s laptop. It’s Quad Core i7-4600U @ 2.10GHz, 12GB memory, 256GB SSD. When I’m in the office, it runs in a dock with a second screen attached to it. At home, I usually connect a second monitor and my office TV to it (love that screen real estate).

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure! I’ll even leave some of my windows unminimized.

Tom Callaway's desktop

Interview conducted April 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, May 20, 2014

The Linux Setup - Sean LeRoy, Urban Planner

I found Sean through Twitter. He gives a wonderful explanation of why he uses Linux, breaking the reasons down into four categories. It’s a very cool framework that really captures the strength of Linux, and other open source software. Sean is also yet another user who likes Linux because it stays out of his way. It’s a common explanation for why people use Linux (and is one of the reasons I use it) and I’m always curious if it makes sense to everyone. Whenever I see someone struggling to work with an interface, I always want to ask “Is this interface getting in the way of your work?” But I’m not sure how someone already frustrated might take the question.

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 Sean LeRoy. By day, I’m an urban planner for the City of Kirkland and in my spare time, my brother Kevin and I run a small design firm called CrashLabs, where I do mostly design and he does mostly development. We focus on simple, often minimal, design solutions for the desktop, mobile and web spaces. About once a year, too, we choose a non-profit to work with in helping them either re-design or develop a project. Oh, and we’re currently available for projects!

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux for a variety of reasons. Stability, openness, modularity and community, to name but a few. Overall Linux is known for its stability, which allows users to focus on just “getting work done;” which at the end of the day is probably what’s most important. I know that, by and large, I don’t have to worry about problems that come with instability. Especially while I’m doing design work for a client, I need the confidence that comes with a stable work environment, so I can attend to the things that truly need attending too.

    Openness is huge for me. I resonate with the ethos of openness for sure and try to implement its core values in my life and work. Modularity, my word for the ability to tinker, is another key ingredient for me. I’m not a born hacker or anything, but I enjoy taking on new challenges which help me learn the Linux and open source space more thoroughly. I’ve got a long way to go for sure, but the idea of being able to make something my own through simple modifications is important.

    Finally, what ties this all together is community. I’ve really enjoyed the interactions with the wider Linux community, across distros. I appreciate the spirit of sharing, willingness to help and general good spirit in which the Linux community affords and provides.

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

    I run Arch Linux on my main work machine. Right now its fairly vanilla, so I plan on theming it out a bit in the near future. It took me a long time to get to Arch, as I was very intimidated and lacked some of the basic understanding required to install, use and maintain it. But, with the help of a few seasoned Arch users, I migrated over this year and feel like I will stay. I feel, too, that Arch can play a key role in the progress and growth of the Linux desktop in the near future.

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

    GNOME. It’s not without its faults, especially in some of the design-oriented choices, but all in all, I need a desktop that stays out of my way, doesn’t assume to know what I need and want, and is responsive. GNOME gives me that. Openbox would be another favorite, though that is more a window manager.

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

    For my design work unquestionably Inkscape and GIMP. I’ve been able to do anything I need with those two programs, and what I may not know how to do, I’ve learned from the forums and literature, which are vast. I always have music playing while I work, so VLC or Xnoise are my go-to – right now it’s Coltrane Plays the Blues. I don’t bother much with music managers; I just store my huge library on various external drives. For my document needs, LibreOffice and AbiWord are great.

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

    Nothing fancy by any means: 15” Dell Inspiron Laptop with 4GB RAM, Core i5, but it does the trick, for now anyway. Regardless, when I’m working in my home office, I connect it to a 23” Viewsonic Monitor with a really nice full HD, IPS display. I couldn’t do my design work without it! I’m looking into the 4K displays too, as I believe the latest GNOME release supports those.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure. Pretty minimal, but functional.

Sean LeRoy's desktop

Interview conducted March 31, 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, April 30, 2014 Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Linux Setup - Jonathan Nadeau, Accessible Computing Foundation

Previous interview subject Spencer Hunley suggested I interview Jonathan and I’m glad I did. Accessibility is an important issue that unfortunately doesn’t get the attention it deserves (especially in web design). Part of Jonathan’s work is sponsoring Sonar GNU/Linux, which seems to be based on Ubuntu (judging by the version numbers), but seems to be getting ready to base itself off of Manjaro. Jonathan is also running an IndiegoGo campaign to further develop Orca, the Linux screenreader. Projects and campaigns like this are important because accessibility software can be prohibitively expensive. Free and open source software, like Sonar and Orca, make it possible for more people to have access to the technology they need, without having to jump through a lot of hoops to get it — or worse yet, not having anything at all.

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 Jonathan Nadeau and I’m a blind GNU/Linux user and a free software advocate. I’m the executive director of the Accessible Computing Foundation where we develop free and accessible software for people with all types of disabilities.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use GNU/Linux because I’m a free software advocate and promote using free software for assistive technology and accessible computing. I believe in the ideals of free software and think all software should be free as in software freedom.

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

    The distro I use is Sonar GNU/Linux. It is an operating system that the Accessible Computing Foundation sponsors.

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

    I use either the GNOME Shell or the GNOME Fallback Mode. I use either of these because they are both very accessible with the Orca screen reader which I need as a blind GNU/Linux user.

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

    I would have to say the Orca screen reader because without it I wouldn’t be able to use a computer.

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

    I have a Lenovo notebook that is a Core i5 with 4GB RAM and an 80GB SSD. I also have an 8-core AMD 4.0GHZ with 16GB RAM and an SSD.

Interview conducted November 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.


Thursday, January 23, 2014 Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Linux Setup - Wolf Vollprecht, UberWriter Developer

Wolf is correct — I did find him via UberWriter, a beautiful Markdown editor. There are lots of Linux tools that work well and there are lots of Linux tools that look great, but there’s not always a lot of overlap between the two. UberWriter looks great and works great. Wolf uses Synapse, an application launcher, within GNOME, which has some built-in launcher functionality, but that lacks the depth and finesse Synapse offers. Wolf’s other ideas for how to enhance GNOME are very interesting, too.

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 Wolf, currently studying mechanical engineering in Zurich. Besides studying, I program desktop applications and websites. I also organize one of the biggest Hackathons in Zurich (together with the people from the Entrepreneur Club). I guess I was chosen for this interview because I am the developer of UberWriter, a quite popular distraction free text editor for Ubuntu/Linux!

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Because I love free and open source software (FOSS). I think all of us would be better off if the world was a more open place and the best software was readily accessible for everyone.

    I’ve used Macs and Windows in the past, too, but Linux actually outperforms both of them for the tasks I am using it for. Besides that, most of the engineers here use some sort of Linux for work.

    Using proprietary services, like Skype or Facebook, also begins to make me feel really uneasy. I was quite inspired to pursue a FOSS lifestyle by some of the talks from Richard Stallman, too.

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

    I am still stuck with Ubuntu, because it’s the easiest to install and works really well. However, I am in the process of moving at least one machine to Arch Linux to get cutting edge features.

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

    I love GNOME (especially 3.10). They seem to be doing things right. If I want to get super-nerdy, I use i3-wm from time to time. There are two things I would want to have in GNOME Shell (or an additional program) though:

    • Unity’s HUD feature, which is really great for searching through large menus. One of my plans was to use the HUD dbus-service and integrate it into Synapse (another DE-addition that I love and use all the time)

    • a global autocorrect (like OS X has, I think) because I mistype things so often. I believe software should help me out, already! I envision a T9 for computers, but better.

    I also use tiheums icons: http://tiheum.deviantart.com/art/Faenza-Icons-173323228.

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

    Synapse is one of the tools I depend upon. It’s a super fast and convenient way to open applications and find files. Otherwise, I depend on a mix: Inkscape, GIMP, LibreOffice, Vim, Sublime Text, and Chromium — I depend on all of them equally, I’d say.

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

    I have a Intel i7-4770k on a Gigabyte Mainboard and two Samsung 256GB SSDs. The graphics card is a Geforce 680-Ti which powers a nice 27” Dell monitor and another smaller display. I also use an i7 Thinkpad X1 Carbon for traveling.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure!

Wolf Vollprecht's desktop

Interview conducted November 11, 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.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Linux Setup - Allan Day, GNOME Designer

Part of the reason GNOME is such a successful project is the focus and dedication of its members. I’ve interviewed a few of them and common strands always emerge — ideas like GNOME as an operating system, GNOME staying out of the user’s way, and GNOME as a way to enhance Linux. Allan, a designer for the project, touches on a lot of these points. His design workflow is also wonderfully straightforward and helps to address the concern that good design work can’t be done on Linux.

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 Allan Day. I live in London and work on the GNOME project as a designer. I contributed for a number of years as a volunteer before being hired by Red Hat to work on the project full-time.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I was dissatisfied with Windows and wanted to try something different. When I tried my first distro I found that I really liked GNOME.

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

    I’m currently running the Fedora 20 pre-release, so I can get the latest GNOME version.

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

    Obviously I use GNOME, but I don’t really think of it as a desktop environment. The GNOME project has learned that you have to take a holistic view of the whole product if you want to create good user experiences. It is for this reason that, over the years, our contributors have created low-level technologies when they have been needed. It is also why we regularly collaborate with developers from every level of the stack, going right down to the kernel.

    Nowadays my engagement with GNOME is driven by a belief in the necessity of a competitive Free Software operating system for personal computing devices. I think that GNOME is unique in its focus on user experience, working in the open, and working with others to create a complete product. GNOME 3 is something that I love to use, but it is also important for the future of software.

    The main things I like as a user of GNOME are the lack of distraction, clarity of organization, and the feeling I get that the software is working for me (rather than the other way around). Anything else I try feels distracting and confused in comparison. Often it feels downright unfriendly. GNOME 3 lets me do what I want without getting in the way.

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

    My main tools are Inkscape, Git and IRC — Inkscape for creating mockups, Git for sharing those mockups with others (we have public repositories for all our designs), and IRC for communication. Each of those tools reflects an aspect of the design work that I do; it’s all about developing and sharing ideas in collaboration with others.

    It is important to me that these tools are free, both in terms of cost and liberty. This makes it easy for collaborators to get involved, and is consistent with the goals of the GNOME project as a whole.

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

    My hardware isn’t particularly special. I have a Thinkpad T420s, which is generally docked and used in conjunction with a 24” Dell Ultrasharp Monitor, as well as a separate keyboard and mouse. The monitor makes drawing mockups a lot easier.

    I also listen to a lot of music and have the laptop connected to a fairly decent stereo (Sherwood amplifier, Eltax speakers).

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure! This is what my setup tends to look like while I’m working - a browser, Inkscape, Notes, IRC, and a Terminal for Git and building development code.

    I tend to use all of the latest GNOME apps. In this screenshot you can see Web, Notes, and our new IRC client, which is called Polari.

Allan Day's desktop

Interview conducted October 24, 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.