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.


Monday, November 25, 2013

The Linux Setup - Alberto Garcia, Software Developer

It’s no secret that a lot of people love OS X. My theory is that they love it because it makes sense to them and jives with their workflow, not that it’s inherently better than anything else. I say that not as an OS X hater but as someone who believes usability is subjective to a certain degree. I bet an even greater number of people love Windows the same way, but we probably don’t hear as much from them, possibly because they don’t realize there are other operating systems…

As Alberto points out, the strength of Linux is that it can be changed into whatever we need. So for those of us who don’t feel served by Windows and OS X, desktop Linux is the opportunity to create our own personal operating system. It’s harder than using stock setups, but the results are much more rewarding.

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 Alberto Garcia. I’m a free software developer and one of the founding members of Igalia, an open source consultancy. Since the creation of the company I have worked in many different areas, but I was particularly involved in the Maemo/MeeGo platforms. Then I worked for a while in virtualization and device drivers, and at the moment I’m working on the WebKit GTK+ port. I’m also a Debian developer.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I started using it at university. First, because coming from the DOS/Windows world, it was something new and exciting. It was also very convenient: most servers and workstations we had at university were running some version of Unix, so with Linux, I could have a similar working environment at home.

    Back then it was not trivial to set up and tune the operating system, so I spent quite some time making things work. However, with that I learned an important thing: having complete and unrestricted access to the source code was something really powerful, and it made me realize this was how I wanted all of my software to be.

    Software should be a tool to make people’s lives easier. Putting restrictions on a program to prevent people from doing what they want to with it does the opposite.

    I liked the idea so much that I decided I wanted to work as close to that ideal as possible. Luckily, I found the right people and we founded Igalia with free software as one of our core values.

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

    I’ve been using Debian since the beginning, and that’s my distribution of choice in all my computers. In 1997 there were not so many other choices, and I think Debian was already quite solid. If I recall correctly, it also included a larger selection of software than most of the alternatives.

    I also like the idea that it’s entirely developed by a community of volunteers that anyone can join, which is why I decided to become a Debian developer myself.

    Of course I had the chance to try other distributions during all these years, but to be honest, I never saw a strong reason to consider switching.

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

    I’ve been using GNOME for a long time. We started working with it at Igalia in the early years because we saw in it a promising desktop environment and development platform.

    As much as I like to be able to tweak and modify my software, I also like it to get out of the way when I want to work, and I think GNOME succeeds pretty well in that. I’m also satisfied with all of the recent developments and I’m a happy GNOME 3 user.

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

    Leaving my Debian developer tasks aside, I don’t think I depend on anything specific to Debian in my daily work.

    I spend most of my time inside a source code repository, so my essential tools are git and Emacs. I also use mutt and notmuch to read my e-mail. Then of course there’s also the standard programs that everyone uses: a music player, a web browser — but I don’t have strong preferences with those. But I use the Epiphany webapp mode a lot.

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

    I’m using a ThinkPad X230 with an i7 processor, 12GB of RAM and an SSD hard drive. I’ve been using ThinkPads for years and I’m quite happy with them. They work pretty well with Linux and most hardware features work out of the box. I’m also so used to the trackpoint that I cannot see myself without it now.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    There it goes. It’s GNOME 3 with a few extensions, a couple of Emacs instances, a few shells, IRC client, web browser and media player.

Alberto Garcia's desktop

Interview conducted October 2, 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.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013 Friday, November 8, 2013