Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Linux Setup - Charles Profitt, System Administrator

Charles is another Unity fan, which someone cyncial might attribute to his presence on the Ubuntu Community Council. But I don’t think that’s why Charles likes Unity. He likes it because Unity works for him. Canonical/Ubuntu people tend to promote Unity because they’ve worked with it more than others. I maintain that one of Canonical’s biggest mis-steps was pushing out Unity way before it was ready. It soured lots of users and as good as Unity is, I think there are lots of people who will never touch it again.

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 Charles Profitt. My day job is as a systems administrator/systems architect/database administrator/backup administrator/VMWare administrator/storage administrator. I am also an avid open source advocate and am currently a member of the Ubuntu Community Council.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I like dependable, stable technology that I can fiddle with. Linux gives me the stability I want and the freedom to fiddle (I sound a bit like Steve Supervillain).

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

    I have two main laptops. One for home and one for work. I run Ubuntu 14.04 on both.

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

    Unity. I have grown to really like the way it works. GNOME3 would be my fallback choice, but there are some things it comes up a bit short on for me.

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

    The program I use daily on my work rig is VirtualBox so that I can manage the Windows Active Directory environment. The other main program I utilize is SSH to manage multiple servers and devices. At home I depend on Evolution and Firefox more than any other applications. I also use irssi to stay connected on IRC.

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

    Home is a Lenovo T530 (specs and review here)

    Work is a Lenovo W520.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here are two images.

Charles Profitt's work desktop

Charles Profitt's home desktop

Interview conducted August 11, 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, October 15, 2014 Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Linux Setup - Eric Hameleers, Slackware Linux

When you’re interviewing a Slackware developer, you have certain expectations about what they’ll say in terms of controlling your own system and Eric delivers. In fact, he makes the case that Slackware, known as a more challenging system to setup and maintain, is valuable because it requires so much thought. Which is true—I’ve always seen Slackware as one part distro and one part teaching tool. The rest of Eric’s interview is great as he’s a very smart guy who’s spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a distro work, not just in terms of specific software, but also in terms of what’s ultimately best for the user in the long-term.

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 Eric Hameleers, and I am mostly known for what I do in my spare time, which is work on Slackware Linux as one of the core developers. During the day I have a regular job at IBM where I currently manage a global Help Desk. My work on Slackware Linux gives me the opportunity to carve a niche in the Open Source ecosystem. With the current focus in Linux-land on the unification of computing platforms (using the same interface on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones) a lot of development effort concentrates on “giving people the best experience,” which often means taking shortcuts and breaking the golden rule of the UNIX philosophy: to create programs that “do one thing, and do it well.”

    I hate it when compatibility is sacrificed for ease-of-use. It seems like the bigger companies target the lowest common denominator as their ideal audience. This is not what we target with Slackware—it tries to stay close to the values of old. People call Slackware a thing of the past, a dinosaur, old-fashioned, and more things like that, but in truth Slackware is a stable, modern Linux distribution that uses proven technology and does not cave in to the fad of the day. We assume that you are a smart person! We take you seriously! A Slackware system gives you the keys to your computer instead of locking everything away from you. What is “the best user experience”? I get the best experience when I feel in total control. I need to understand why something is failing (and to be able to fix it) instead of having to wait for distro developers to fix the “black box” inside.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    In my early days of earning money, I started with UNIX. We had the Aegis OS on Motorola 68000-powered Apollo graphical workstations and Xenix on Intel desktops. In those days, only the secretaries and sales guys used DOS and the difference between DOS and my UNIX systems was day and night. I decided then and there that UNIX was going to be my future. Unfortunately, all regular UNIX-es were terribly expensive and Xenix was just not mature enough (or perhaps it was the limitation of the Intel 386 based hardware). I bought an Atari TT (also Motorola-powered but with a 68030 CPU) because Atari promised to release an affordable, full UNIX System V for it. Alas, it took them more than two years (the first release would be in November 1991). In the meantime, I had turned to developing software for Atari GEM, the much-underrated GUI for the platform and much, much easier to program for than the emerging MS Windows operating system.

    Fast forward to 1994 when the developers I worked with as a sysadmin decided they wanted a Linux OS as their development platform because the target platform they were developing for (Sun Solaris) was just too expensive for a small company to afford. They picked Slackware Linux, which was hot at the time, and when my team of system admins decided that we should create an Intranet for our offices, it was only logical to use Slackware Linux for the servers. Since then, Linux, and especially Slackware, have determined my career path. It is also an extremely rewarding OS for use at home (tinkering with software, getting to know how stuff works under the hood, playing games, surfing the web) because it is so much faster, more stable and not virus-ridden compared to the “other OS” many people use at home.

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

    By now, the answer should not come as a surprise. I use Slackware on all my computers: my work laptop, my living room desktop, the server at home, and all the servers that I manage for my public Slackware repositories, blog and the Slackware Documentation Project. It is an OS that makes for a very fast and feature-rich desktop but also a very capable server.

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

    It depends. On my desktop and laptop, I always use KDE because it is a very powerful desktop environment that happens to look gorgeous, too. On my server at home, where I run some 24/7 stuff, I use a Xfce session inside a VNC server so that I can easily connect to it from all over the world and still not put too large of a burden on the hardware. From time to time I test other desktop environments like LXDE, LXQT and lately, the new Plasma 2, which is being worked on by the KDE community.

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

    Typically, I use the software that I would like my community to use. When you consider Slackware to be a versatile “Swiss army knife” OS, what I typically add to it is the software that enhances your experience with Slackware. I provide packages for the good stuff that does not come with the core OS. We call that “third party repositories” because apart from what’s on a Slackware DVD, there is no other official Slackware repository with add-on software. Some of the programs which I package and which are very popular are: LibreOffice, VLC, ffmpeg, Chromium, OpenJDK, Wine and of course the latest KDE desktop in my ‘ktown' repository.

    Answering your question, I think that I spend most of my time using vi (yes!), vncviewer, Chromium and always have VLC tuned in to my audio server.

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

    The hardware I use is not state-of-the-art at all. My laptop is a scratched Lenovo T400 (with 8GB RAM) and my desktop machine is powered by an AMD Phenom X4 945 CPU with 2GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GT240 graphics card (fanless). My son’s hardware is four times better!

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure, why not? You will find that I have an almost boring, uncustomized desktop. A typical Slackware look and feel you might say :-) Everything I need is provided through the power that KDE provides to me under the hood, with its fast integrated search.

Eric Hameleers' desktop

Interview conducted August 10, 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, October 9, 2014 Wednesday, October 8, 2014 Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Linux Setup - Sudhir Khanger, Android Developer

Sudhir is a KDE-loving Android developer. Like most KDE users, he really loves KDE. Sudhir also makes a great point about the economics of free and open source software, pointing out that in many parts of the world, people don’t have the money to pay for software. And if they do have the money, they don’t have a mechanism, other than cash, to pay for software, putting much of the world of fee-based software out of their reach. Linux helps not just people who don’t want to pay for software, but also people who have no way (either financially or technically) to pay for software.

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 biologist by training. After a few years of changing battery icons and themes, and of installing custom ROMs and kernels, my ability to hack Android came to a halt. I had to learn programming in order to continue having the fun. I took Mehran Sahami’s online course, Introduction to Computer Programming - Programming Methodology to learn Java. I was already spending way too much time thinking about Android so I decided to take the plunge and become an Android developer. That makes me an aspiring Android developer.

    I am also know to, frenetically, make 100 words random posts on my blog sudhirkhanger.com.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I started using Linux in summer of 2007. I am not sure what instigated my desire to try Linux other than I had too much time on my hand during my freshman year. I didn’t know what open source was back then. I find that Linux is really easy to use because it tells you what it is doing. At its core everything is a text file.

    Over the years Linux has allowed me to do so many things that I otherwise would not have had access to. You want to become a graphic artist? Install Krita. You want to be a writer? Install LibreOffice. Where do you get freedom like that?

    Not everybody in my home country is going to be able to pay Adobe’s premium yearly subscription. Half of them don’t even have bank accounts—how are they going to get credit cards to make online purchases? Linux completely changes everything in such an environment.

    I am also slowly moving away from all third-party, hosted technologies to locally-controlled GNU software. It is important to take control of your own data.

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

    Fedora is my preferred GNU/Linux distribution.

    I began with Ubuntu but as you know six months down the line it gets really old. If the kernel that was shipped with Ubuntu has a bug you have to live with that for at least six months. That made me switch to Arch Linux. Arch is probably the best Linux distribution. It has a solid base, high quality documentation and the Arch User Repository, which solves the age-old problem of how to distribute software in an easy way.

    After I started working on Android I needed a distribution that changed enough that I had latest of most things but also provided a stable and consistent user experience. Fedora is an obvious choice in this space. Packages are fairly up-to-date. I really enjoy using it.

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

    I am a KDE user. KDE provides me a consistent environment that isn’t available with any other Linux desktop environments. It is designed for power users and can be tweaked to fit any workflow. All applications follow the same design guidelines and use KDE desktop elements like notifications. Other desktop environments don’t really have anything like Kontact, which is a personal information management suite of applications. Overall KDE is a great desktop experience.

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

    Chrome, Eclipse, and Android Studio are pretty must-have software for my work.

    KMail, Dolphin, Banshee, Emacs, Konsole, Konversation, and ownCloud are also essential to my workflow.

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

    My primary work laptop is a Thinkpad T420i.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Sudhir Khanger's desktop

Interview conducted August 7, 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.


Friday, October 3, 2014 Wednesday, September 24, 2014