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, February 13, 2014 Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Linux Setup - Niki Kovacs, Microlinux

I found Niki through Steven Rosenberg. Niki is a dedicated Slackware user, who makes a compelling case for using it here. As you might expect from a Slackware user, Niki’s setup is hardcore, including a hand-built KDE implementation. But what’s great is that despite his considerable skills, Niki says he uses Linux because it’s fun. When people ask me about Linux, my knee-jerk reaction is to go into the technology and the politics, but the real reason I spend so much time with Linux is that it’s just a lot of fun to work with. So I’m grateful to Niki for the reminder about the joy of 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 Niki Kovacs. I’m the manager of Microlinux, a small IT company in South France focusing 100% on GNU/Linux. I’m providing Linux-based solutions for professional clients like small town halls, public libraries, schools and local radio stations.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I discovered Linux in 2001, when I was doing some PHP development for a small book editor. The EasyPHP setup on my Windows box wasn’t working very well, and someone in a PHP developer forum suggested I “just install Linux.” I went to the local bookstore in Montpellier and bought a Slackware Linux 7.1 CD. I had a hard time installing it and figuring it out, so I joined the now-defunct basiclinux.net mailing list with a strong determination to get a serious grasp on all of this. In retrospect, this now seems like wanting to work out a bit and joining the Foreign Legion paratroopers. I’ve been 100% GNU/Linux since that time. And I’m still using Linux for a host of reasons. Because of the freedom. The transparency. The flexibility. The community. The robustness of the system. And last but not least, because it’s fun.

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

    I’m running Slackware Linux on all of my desktops, servers and laptops. I’ve used all kinds of distributions over the years, from Mandrake to Debian to CentOS and RHEL. For the last couple of years, I’ve simply stopped looking at other distributions. I know Slackware quite well and the distribution feels like “Linux done right” to me.

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

    I’m using my personal blend of KDE 4.10.5, built from scratch. I’m running a heavily-modded Xfce 4.10 on my old Panasonic Toughbook.

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

    I don’t use anything distro-specific. In my day-to-day work, I have a few Konsole terminals open with SSH sessions on remote servers. I’m using Vim for pretty much everything, from writing shell scripts to editing configuration files to web development with PHP, XHTML and CSS. I’ve been managing office documents with OpenOffice since version 0.99 (which had that horrible “East German” look), and now I’m still with Apache OpenOffice, version 4.0.1. On servers I rely upon Apache, PHP, MySQL, Postfix, Dovecot, Postgrey, Icecast, MPD — the list can get quite long.

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

    I have half a dozen boxes quietly humming in my office. My main workhorse PC is a battered workstation with an AMD Phenom Quad-Core processor, 4GB RAM, 2 x 750GB hard disks configured in a RAID 1 array and a dual monitor. All of my data resides on an HP Proliant Microserver with 4 x 250GB disks in a RAID 5 array. I’m typing these lines on my latest acquisition, a Logitech Illuminated Keyboard.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Niki Kovacs' desktop

Interview conducted November 29, 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 9, 2014 Wednesday, November 13, 2013 Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Linux Setup - Scott Sealy, Pastor

Scott’s setup is great, not because it’s high-tech, but rather, because it’s high-concept. He knows he’s prone to distraction (like most of us), and use uses Linux to craft an experience that allows him to keep his focus. That’s the beauty of choice in software — it lets users create an experience that works for the individual, rather than something that’s supposed to work for everyone (and usually doesn’t…). Scott submitted his rig to me. I hope others will do the same.

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 Scott Sealy, I’m pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Covington, TN.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I originally started using Linux because tinkering with getting wireless to work or deciding on the perfect GTK theme was a great way to procrastinate writing my thesis.

    I continue to use it because I like the control and choice I have. For example, it’s nice to install software without having browser toolbars or additional “features” added that I don’t want. Since I’ve had to be my own tech support I’ve found Linux to be transparent, so it’s easier to fix problems that arise. Also, as a leader of a non-profit, volunteer organization I feel an affinity for open-source projects and enjoy using software that feels like I’m more of a part of a community than a consumer. And it’s fun.

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

    My work laptop runs OpenSUSE. OpenSUSE strikes a good balance for me as far as being stable, yet providing up to date packages. My home desktop has FreeBSD and another drive I use to play with different distros.

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

    My work laptop has KDE. The defaults work the way I expect and I like the consistency between programs. I use different window managers or desktops for a change of scenery, but KDE is what I use most of the time for work.

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

    Vim, especially the vim outliner plugin. I use an outliner for several things: sermons, lessons, meeting agendas, and planning. And I do most of my writing in Vim before formatting it in LibreOffice. I’m a master at distracting myself with things like choosing the best font or what view of the document I should use. Plain text helps remove some of those distractions.

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

    A ThinkPad E530.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Scott Sealy's desktop

Interview conducted September 10, 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, September 24, 2013

The Linux Setup - Arjen Balfoort, SolydXK

Linux is great. I found Arjen while trying to learn more about SolusOS. SolusOS was briefly mentioned on a Tux Radar podcast, so I started Googling around to find more details, but without the proper spelling, I wound up discovering SolydXK, a rolling distribution that’s basically Linux Mint Debian Edition with Xfce and KDE desktops. I contacted Arjen, the man behind SolydXK, and the result is a great interview with someone who sees the business strengths of Linux, open source software, and perhaps most importantly, communities.

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 Arjen Balfoort. I live in a small town in the south of Holland with my wife, and two small kids. I’m a business consultant by trade. I help management and directors of businesses, and non-profit organizations to analyze and change their business processes so that they better align with their business strategy and adapt more quickly to a faster, ever-changing environment.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I’m a strong believer in the “open” philosophy. Although the term “open” is ambiguous to say the least, and therefor often misinterpreted, I can tell you what is the most important aspect of this philosophy in regard to the use Linux: I believe that a true networked organization has a strong community. Products are not leading, but the needs, talents, and knowledge in that community are. What’s better than to use a hobby to show businesses, and non-profit organizations the importance of a community? Now, the subject of the explanation is becoming the main subject. I never anticipated SolydXK’s success, and I never anticipated I’d have so much fun doing it.

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

    My main distribution is SolydK 64-bit. This has been the most stable development environment for me since I started SolydXK.

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

    SolydK runs KDE. KDE is a beautiful desktop environment. It’s stable, and versatile, not to mention it’s my first love since I first started using Linux.

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

    It is incredibly difficult to pick out one single piece of software if you need to maintain a distribution. However, if I have to pick one, I’d pick Ninja-IDE.

    Ninja-IDE is the Python IDE in which I develop all my custom applications for SolydXK. It’s a new-comer, just like SolydXK, and even with its odd quirks, I like it very much!

    You can check out Ninja-IDE here: http://www.ninja-ide.org and if you want to help us out (I really could use your help), here’s my github: https://github.com/Schoelje.

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

    It’s an old beast, over six years old, which I initially built for gaming:

    • Motherboard: Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe, dual-core, 64-bit
    • Graphics: Nvida GeForce 9800 GT
    • Memory: 4GB
    • HD: 4TB
    • Super silent fans, and rubber isolated case.
  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    My desktop is plain vanilla SolydK. No changes were made.

Arjen Balfoort's desktop

Interview conducted August 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.


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.