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.


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.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Linux Setup - Andrey Hihlovskiy, Software Engineer

Andrey makes a fascinating point in his interview: that specific software isn’t important when you have choice. For instance, Andrey doesn’t rely on one type of text editor. Instead, he has a few different text editors, in case there’s an issue with one. While it’s nice to have just one piece of software for one type of task, the reality is most of us have some redundancy in our setups, since there aren’t many pieces of software that are completely flawless. Choice allows us to make software perfect by committee.

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 Andrey Hihlovskiy, I am a Russian software engineer working and living in Bonn, Germany. I work for a German company, startext GmbH. We develop software for archives and museums in Germany and other countries.

    I’m passionate about interpreted languages and open-source software. My tools include Groovy, Gradle, Git and many modern JVM-based frameworks and libraries.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux at work as well as at home. A Linux system for a programmer is like water for a fish—you just live in it. The whole stack—from bash and tcpdump to build tools to IDEs—is open, modular, fast and reliable.

    The ext4 file system is a blessing. It is extremely fast and reliable. I haven’t had any performance or integrity problems with it for years. I reinstall Linux systems once or twice a year; just out of curiosity about new versions or alternate desktops. But I leave /home intact so it just works. Of course, all important files are synced elsewhere, so surviving probable future hard drive failure is not a problem.

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

    Currently it is Linux Mint 17 64-bit.

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

    On power machines I use Cinnamon. Nowadays it is a very stable and usable DE, requiring very little (if any) tweaking after installation.

    On legacy machines I use Xfce. Sometimes it seems to be less convenient than Cinnamon, but it is still extremely fast and very stable.

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

    I don’t depend on any particular piece of Linux software. Quite the reverse, I enjoy the interchangeability of all parts. If gedit could not open a 500MB text file, I use Mousepad for it. If diffuse stumbles on comparing files, I use meld instead. Every popular program has alternatives.

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

    Power machines: Intel i5 with 16GB operating memory and 500GB hard drive.

    Legacy machines: Intel Atom, 1GB operating memory, 100GB hard drive.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Yes!

Andrey Hihlovskiy's desktop

Interview conducted August 4, 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, September 16, 2014

The Linux Setup - Saleem Khan, Physician

Saleem’s interview is great because he’s a medical doctor, so he provides a slightly different perspective than we usually see here. I’m constantly shocked by how many doctors’ offices use Windows. I’ve even seen some running XP virtually. That always makes me feel very confident in the privacy of my medical records. Saleem is a KDE fan, but he’s also a fan of inexpensive hardware, and the combination of the two seems to work for him.

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 a medical doctor, trained in adult psychiatry and currently working at Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad, Pakistan. I have previously worked as a sitting supervisor at the computer lab and e-library at Ayub Medical College.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    That’s a bit of a complicated question. I started using Linux back in 2003 as a hobby and as an escape. I was looking for something different from Windows. The hobby turned into a habit and the habit later turned into a necessity. Now I use Linux on every computer I can get my hands on for all kinds of computing, both at home and work. I still use Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1, as mutiboot options, but mainly I use Linux.

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

    I was, and still am, an obsessional distro-hopper (that’s why I always keep one “test” partition handy for satisfying my distro-hopping), but since 2009 I have used Arch Linux as my main OS, both on my laptops and desktops, for all of my work . For my test drives, I only install and check distros that attract me for a while. Along with Arch Linux, I am multibooting PCLinuxOS (I am a faithful user of it since version 92; I like it because it can be remastered, which I like to do for my friends and for installations on different computers). I am also a big fan of Debian stable (I also remaster it). I can’t forget to mention Kubuntu LTS (also remastered). But basically I am an Archian ever since I installed it for the first time. Pacman and AUR are my best best friends after Google.

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

    I am a KDE fan and use KDE as my main desktop. I was, and am, a big fan of GNOME 2, and now MATE. I also like Openbox and Fluxbox because I like to manually tweak my working environment.

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

    Not one but three. Firefox and LibreOffice, because all my work is either through the Internet or using office software. The third one is Terminal, which I need since I am always doing something with pacman. So I can’t live without a terminal.

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

    Frankly, I am not a hardware fan. I don’t think software should run at the cost of hardware. My computers are mostly old and are the type most people would have discarded. They range from Intel Centrino Duo to Core2 DUO to Dual core. My desktop PC is an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+. I am using a maximum of 4GB RAM on all my computers. If I had any extra money, I would buy a new AMD computer, but that looks impossible at the present. It is worth mentioning my smart phone and tablet, which are from MTK processors. I manage to install all kinds of custom ROMs which do things like get me extra virtual memory. This is better than spending money on new a smart phone with so-called “extra smart” hardware or new features.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    I will but it won’t be of much interest since I am not an eye-candy lover. It’s yet another plain KDE desktop.

Saleem Khan's desktop

Interview conducted July 29, 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, September 9, 2014

The Linux Setup - Eric Mesa, Programmer/Blogger

Eric’s a KDE user who makes use of Activities to create virtual desktops for different kinds of work. Like a lot of KDE users, Eric likes that desktop environment because of the granular control it gives him over his system. KDE isn’t for everyone, but people who know how to use it seem to really stick with it. I’ve never been able to really solve KDE for myself, but I remain ever hopeful that one day I might figure it 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?

    My name is Eric Mesa. My day job is to program and manage programmers, but I’m also a blogger and I cover the comics industry. I’ll be attending Baltimore Comic-Con as press again this year.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I first came to Linux in 2003 when I was trying to figure out how to run my own server. I did some research and saw that you could do that with Linux. So I went to the local bookstore (I think it was a Borders) and found a book on Fedora Core 1 (as it was known back then). I installed it on an old computer I bought for like $25 and was off.

    Nowadays I use Linux because I believe in the principles of free software. To me, Linux is the DRM-free OS. I don’t buy DRM-encumbered movies, music, or books. Why should I buy DRM-encumbered operating systems? I want to make my computer do whatever I want it to do, not what some corporation wants it to do. Also, I love that a Linux desktop is fully functional without spending money. I have spent or donated money for software, but I’m glad you don’t have to. As the world becomes more dependent upon computing, I think it’s important for those with less access to money to still have access to up-to-date and world-class operating systems.

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

    I use Fedora—been there since the beginning—on my desktop and laptop. My wife’s computer and laptop run Kubuntu because Ubuntu’s traditionally been a lot easier for in-place upgrades.

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

    I use KDE 4.x on all the computers in my house (Fedora or Kubuntu). I use it because it is infinitely configurable. GNOME 3 is when I stopped using GNOME and went back to KDE. I also make HUGE use of the Activities to have sets of virtual desktops. I just love how KDE respects the user’s vision—it is the most Linux of desktop environments.

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

    A while ago I would have said Blender, when I was really active in 3D animation. Now it’s Amarok. I LOVE the Amarok music player. I’ve written over and over about everything I love about the way it allows me to create dynamic playlists and the way it presents the music.

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

    My desktop is a 6 Core AMD computer with 8GB RAM and an nVidia graphics card.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Because I use so many Activities, I’m not sure how many screenshots you’d like. You can start at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ericsbinaryworld/13961741879/in/photostream/ and then go (left arrow) until the desktop screenshots end.

Eric Mesa's desktop

Interview conducted July 28, 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, September 2, 2014

The Linux Setup - Stefano Zacchiroli, Former Debian Project Leader

Stefano is my great white whale. I’ve been trying to interview him for years, so I was very excited when he was able to make some time for this. He’s a Debian user, as you might expect from a former Debian Project Leader. Stefano also has a lot of nice things to say about GNOME Shell. And mutt users will want to check out his software list, as there’s a lot of nice Emacs integrations in there.

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 Stefano Zacchiroli, but I usually go by the nickname “Zack.” I’m a computer science researcher and teacher, as well as a Free Software activist. I’m a Debian Developer, former three-time Debian Project Leader, and a Director at the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

    These days my Debian involvement is mostly in Quality Assurance and in the development of infrastructure pieces like Debian Sources. In the past I’ve maintained many packages, e.g., the OCaml stack, Vim, and various Python modules.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Free Software in general—Linux, GNU, GNOME, end-user applications, etc.—to be in control of my own computations. I love the feeling of knowing that I can peek at any point in the software stack, make the changes that I see fit, and share any bit I please with my peers. I refuse to believe that software is a black box, remotely controlled by someone else, and that users should need permission to exercise elementary digital rights on software.

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

    Debian testing. It’s just the best (not to mention the first) “rolling release” out there: it offers a great trade-off between software freshness and not being too bleeding edge for use on your productivity machine.

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

    GNOME 3 with GNOME Shell. Philosophically, I like the GNOME project, their vision, and the courage they have had to reinvent the desktop after many years in which nobody was innovating. But I’m also technically quite happy about GNOME Shell. I love full-text searching for applications, the big switch to mute notifications, the no-frills approach, and the well-rounded app integration.

    The only feature I miss in off-the-shelf GNOME Shell is tiling window management (there is some tiling support in GNOME Shell, like splitting the screen in half with two main windows, but I do use more complex window arrangements than that). To fill that gap I’m using the Shellshape extension; the result is good enough for my needs.

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

    To give an idea of my work flow, here is a list of tools that I use on a daily basis (in no particular order):

    • mutt
    • notmuch (with mutt integration)
    • Emacs (in client/server mode)
    • git
    • git-annex
    • org-mode (again, with mutt integration)
    • Chromium (although I’m considering switching back to Firefox)
    • screen
    • irssi
    • ssh (and more and more often mosh)
    • ikiwiki
  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My main hardware is my laptop, which I always carry with me. I’m now at my third iteration of (Lenovo) ThinkPads over a period of more than six years and, overall, I’m a satisfied user. As a geek I mostly interact with my OS by typing, and ThinkPad’s keyboards are just unparalleled, in my estimation.

    My current ThinkPad is a T440s, i7 CPU, 12GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a Full HD display (not touchscreen, as I don’t see the point of it). My main regret with ThinkPads is the need to use non-free firmware to get the Intel Wi-Fi working.

    Dear Intel, would you please give up on that, liberate your firmware, and finally set your users free?

    When at the office I connect my laptop to an external LCD monitor and the best mechanical keyboard I’ve ever used: a Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate. To ease the connection, I use a basic Lenovo docking station, and I also have many (five or more, I think) Lenovo-ish AC adapters: one for the office, one near the couch at home, one for each backpack, etc.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure!

    Here is my GNOME Shell workspace three, the one I use for the main ongoing “work” activity during a typical coding session. In the screenshot you can see three windows, tailed automatically by Shellshape: Emacs for coding, Evince for doc reading, and a GNOME terminal running tests (in case you’re wondering, no, I refuse to use Emacs as an entire OS, and I dislike running “terminals” in it).

Stefano Zacchiroli's desktop

Interview conducted July 28, 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, August 26, 2014

The Linux Setup - Niels Kobschaetzki, System Administrator/Podcaster

I feel very invested in Niels’ Linux conversion. We chatted a little before he switched, during the switch, and then after. He also updated this interview after he moved from Mint to Manjaro, which just goes to show you that working with desktop Linux is dynamic for many people. Your distro might change, or your desktop, or your preferred applications. It’s nice that so many of us get so many opportunities to reconsider our workflow.

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 a system administrator in a Windows environment, with some Linux servers in the mix. Besides that, I am a student of Japanese Science and Economics and therefore I need my own computer for doing research in that area (so I can write my master’s thesis at some point). Besides all that, I podcast about old video games from the 8- and 16-bit era, and I like to play those games—on the original consoles and emulated, too.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I started using Linux at the end of the 90s and switched to it from Windows in the beginning of the 2000s. When a laptop of mine got stolen, I wanted a replacement that had an OS that was Unix-like, was small, and had a long battery life. The result was an iBook G4 and that’s how I moved over to OS X in 2004. Ten years, several laptops and desktop computers, and two kids later, our household needed a new laptop. Since the serviceability of Apple laptops is pretty bad, I wouldn’t buy a used one, and a new one was just too expensive. So I decided to move back to Linux. I can buy good, serviceable, used hardware for cheap and still have a good operating system. My workflow had gotten less and less dependent on software that is only available on OS X, so the switch wasn’t that hard.

    In conclusion, it is because I can save money in contrast to OS X and because using open source software in light of the events of the last year gives me a better feeling.

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

    After a couple of weeks using Mint 17, I switched to Manjaro, which is Arch-based. The reason is that a rolling distro is probably a better fit for my needs. When I read that Mint recommends a clean install instead of an upgrade every six months, I was not really comfortable with it. Thus I decided to switch to Manjaro after hearing about it on Going Linux. It seems to be a bit more problem-free than Arch, but has similar advantages. I can use new packages and get a slightly better user-experience.

    It is still quite fiddly, but I like fiddling around!

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

    I am using GNOME Shell. It has a couple of new paradigms in how a desktop works, which I like. For example, getting a second layer desktop by pressing Super, which reveals a dock, shows me all open applications, has an application search, etc. When I saw this a year ago, I was excited that a desktop finally did something new, and that it was really good. Someone is finally experimenting with what a desktop environment can do instead of treading in old water.

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

    Well, it is not only available on Linux, but Vim is probably the most important tool on my computer. It is a text editor that is available on any Linux machine and I can use it for maintaining and configuring our servers at work, the software on my webspace, and my private laptop. In addition, I use it to write posts for my blog, I use it with XeTeX for writing my thesis, I use it with mutt, and I take my notes with it, so there is usually some instance of Vim running in some terminal.

    Besides that, I use Higan and Kega Fusion as emulators for Nintendo and Sega consoles, and ScummVM, which I need when I am playing games for the podcast I am part of. QuickSave helps a lot with the harder games.

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

    My laptop is a Thinkpad X201 with a Core i5 2.53GHZ, 4GB RAM and a 250GB SSD. I also have the docking station, which is great because of the accumulated external hard disks I have at home, the optical drive, and the game pads I use for playing games. I just can leave all the stuff connected and take the laptop out of the docking station when I am ready to go. That’s really awesome after life with only two USB ports and having to disconnect the cables each time I take my laptop with me.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Niels Kobschaetzki's desktop

Interview conducted July 24, 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, August 19, 2014

The Linux Setup - Alex J. Reissig, Writer

Alex is great because he’s a real distro-hopper. By practice, but also by vocation. So his setup has lots of tweaks, no doubt based upon things he’s seen in lots of other distros. I myself distro-hop much less than I used to. Part of it is a need for stability. But another part is knowing (or thinking I know) what I like. Like I’m fairly certain I’ll never be a KDE guy. It’s nothing against KDE — it just doesn’t quite click for me. But Alex reminds us it’s good to kick the tires on new distros, just to see if there’s something we can steal for use in our distro of choice.

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  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

    My name is Alex J. Reissig, although online you’ll see my pen name…AJ Reissig (AJ being a nickname from my childhood). My background is in chemistry, and my day job is as an analyst at Zimmer PowerStation in Moscow, Ohio (USA). Since there is no rest for the wicked, I also keep myself busy by producing YouTube videos about all things Linux (my channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/freedomredux). I also write novels: political fiction and science fiction (my SciFi blog is ariaprime.com). It is my hope that one day the writing and videos can become my full-time profession, but we’re not there…yet.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    There’s a few reasons why I’m a Linux user. First, I’m not a follow-the-herd kind of person; I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I also like to try new distributions and play with the latest/greatest software, something you can’t do with Windows or Mac. And while I’m not an anti-closed source person, I’m not a particular fan of Microsoft’s business practices, so using Linux is my little way of giving Microsoft (and Apple) the middle finger. And of course there is the cost factor…why run Windows when you can get a more flexible OS for free?

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

    I’m a self professed distro-hopper, and since I produce YouTube review of Linux distros, I typically have 4-5 different operating systems on my desktop at any given time. My current OS of choice is Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, which is my main driver on my desktop computer. On my laptop, I have a highly modified Xubuntu 14.04 setup. I’ve switched the Window manager to Gala (from Elementary OS), swapped out the Thunar file manager for Nemo (from Cinnamon), and a host of other changes.

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

    The GNOME 3 desktop is my favorite environment. While it is a radical departure from traditional desktop layout, once you get used to it, you realize this is a desktop made for people who want to get work done. No icons cluttering up the desktop, tons of extensions to customize it just the way you want it, and you can hotkey to your heart’s content (I love hotkeys!). Some of the extension I use are:

    • Appindicator support
    • Caffeine
    • Clipboard indicator
    • Coverflow alt-tab
    • Drop down terminal
    • Gno-Menu
    • Native window placement
    • Put windows
    • Top icons

    My number two desktop has to be Xfce because it is rock-solid and so versatile.

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

    There’s lots of Linux software that I love, but hands down my can’t-live-without software is Kdenlive. It’s an open source video editor that can perform just as well as editors that cost hundreds of dollars…what’s not to like? Of course, there’s other Linux software that I use on a daily basis, and it would be hard to find suitable replacements. Here are my favorites:

    • Evolution email
    • LibreOffice Writer
    • Simple Screen Recorder
    • GIMP
  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My desktop is an Acer running a quad core AMD processor @3.1GHz and 16GB RAM. Graphics and sound cards are stock, baseline units. I have three hard drives on this unit, one being an SSD for my OS. My laptop is a ThinkPad Edge E430, with i3 processor @2.2GHz and 8GB RAM. It has a 320GB hard drive (standard 5400 RPM) along with a 64GB mSATA, which is where my OS resides.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here’s a shot from my desktop. The background is one-of-a-kind (created in GIMP), and if you’re interested in the theming, I use:

    • Window Borders: Dorian 3.10
    • GTK Theme: Gnomish-Gray
    • Icons: Square
    • GNOME Shell Theme: Zukitwo-Cupertino

Alex Reissig's desktop

Interview conducted June 28, 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.

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