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, 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.

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 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.

You can follow My Linux Rig on Google+ here, follow me on Twitter here, and subscribe to the feed here.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Linux Setup - Rafael Lino, Security Officer

Rafael is another Xfce/Xubuntu user. Xfce sometimes doesn’t get a lot of love or respect, which always surprises me. I think the issue with it is that it’s very plain and simple. But for people like Rafael (and myself), that’s the strength of it. Rafael also uses Linux because it’s the best operating system for his purposes. It’s not a political statement, though. And that’s an interesting thing to consider. Linux is mature and functional enough that using it isn’t just about making a political point. A lot of people use it because it’s their best option.

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 Rafael Lino, I live in Lisbon, a sunny city in Portugal, with my wife and two small kids.

    I’m a private security officer so I can’t talk much about my job in public, because I would put my clients, family and friends at risk. Anyway, it’s a typical job with army-style rules.

    With a job like that, my escape is writing about audiophile and DIY stuff on my blog. I was very active in some online Portuguese communities as a moderator and sometimes administrator, but I got tired of all the futility behind it, so these days I usually lurk or help in small-but-warm Facebook groups. Besides my online activities, I also enjoy working with audio-related electronics, and doing some woodworking.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux because it works for me and not the other way around. I’m a father and work by the shift, so I don’t have time for maintenance headaches or software malfunctions. When I was a Windows user I spent a lot of time handling that and it was boring. Now with Linux, stuff gets updated daily, so there are no boring reboots or other nags.

    Also, Linux is a secure environment. Working in security I see the headaches system administrators have with Microsoft PCs.

    Besides those things, my machine was getting old and I didn’t want to spend more money on new hardware, so I went the easy route and installed a fast, lightweight Linux distro.

    I must admit I’m not into Linux for the community. I believe Linux has some amazing communities, but the ‘My distro is better than yours’ way of doing things in those communities fragments what could be a powerful game-changer in the software industry.

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

    Xubuntu 14.04 64-bit on both desktop and laptop.

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

    I use the Xfce4 packaged with Xubuntu mostly because its beautiful and doesn’t need many resources to run fast and stable.

    I wanted a solid, fast, simple desktop environment that didn’t distract me from enjoying music, reading and writing stuff. My wife also needs to use the desktop, so Xfce was a better choice because of its easy learning curve for people coming from a Windows machine.

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

    I’ll pick two. Chrome, because besides the usual web surfing, I actually write most of my blog posts on it. I tried minimalist text editors, office suites, and all in-between, but nothing beats having the internet a click away—especially when you write about technology.

    I also really need the amazing music player DeaDBeaF. It reads almost all audio files, converts them, and was the reason I finally could drop Windows and the amazing foobar2000. Like the latter, it might look simple, but its an amazing player made for audio enthusiasts, so it does away with the pretty interface and goes for a practical approach.

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

    This old computer is based on a Asus P5QL PRO motherboard, Intel Core2Duo at 2.40GHz, 4GB of 667 MHz DDR2 RAM, a Nvidia GT440 card, four SATA2 HDDs and my only indulgence, a dual-bay I use to swap my collection of 2.5” HDDs.

    The PSU is a 750W NOX and all case fans are low-noise ones. My laptop is an ancient Intel Mobile Celeron by a Portuguese company called Tsunami and it’s my backup, if the desktop bites the dust.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Yeah, no problem!

Rafael Lino's desktop

Interview conducted June 15, 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, July 9, 2014 Monday, June 30, 2014 Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Linux Setup - Sean Cross, Novena Developer

I’m not a big hardware guy. At all. Specs mean very little to me. However, Sean’s hardware is interesting, as it’s a Novena, something he developed himself. And of course, because he’s working with Linux, he’s able to get things to run pretty well. I have no idea what the future of the Novena is, but I love that people can make new devices that will be able to access familiar software and interfaces. Microsoft is making Windows cost-free for certain devices. It’s a smarter strategy than charging manufacturers, but until they let people get under the hood of the code, they’re going to have a hard time reaching new, experimental devices. Which is actually OK with me, since I’m happy to have Linux in as many places as possible.

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 “xobs” Cross and I am an American living in Singapore. In the past I’ve worked on release firmware for Chumby, including the Chumby One and Chumby 8 devices. Now I’m building the firmware for Novena, along with the Senoko battery controller board.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Most of my work is done with embedded ARM devices, and while there are a number of full-featured operating systems for ARM, none has more support than Linux. Major alternatives include Windows and Android, but Windows CE 7 wasn’t very good for compatibility, I can’t even try Windows 8 without a source license, and while Android is great for tablets and phones it isn’t very good with multitasking and multiple windows.

    Linux allows me to run the same major open-source applications that are developed on x86 with little more than a recompile. My ARM laptop runs Thunderbird, Firefox, Pidgin, VLC, and XChat, and has a good PDF reader, terminal program, and file manager. Most importantly it is capable of rebuilding everything from source, which helps in tracking down weird and exotic bugs that crop up when developing a system from scratch.

    Linux allows me to get a full desktop environment, even on oddball hardware, which is a feature no other operating system can provide.

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

    Debian Wheezy is my current distro of choice. A big selling point is that they have an armhf build, which allows me to take advantage of the NEON VFP floating point unit in the Cortex A9 CPU. Also important is that it doesn’t assume the platform it’s running on has 3D acceleration, which has caused other distros to fail miserably. An added bonus is that the kernel will run without additional distro-specific patches, which made the port easy.

    From a user experience angle, Wheezy supports modesetting, which allows me to hotplug my HDMI monitor as I move from home to the office. Many distros make assumptions about Xorg drivers that aren’t true on Novena, or don’t support modesetting at all. Modesetting and LibreOffice allows me to give multi monitor presentations, which is a nice touch.

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

    Xfce4 is my current desktop of choice. It supports multiple monitors and works without hardware acceleration (which is still a work in progress on Novena). I like its support for panel widgets, which allow me to monitor CPU frequency as the governor changes the speed of the processor, and I like the detailed at-a-glance battery reporting, which let me know how the Senoko battery controller is doing.

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

    With this distro, the package manager is most important because any library or software package I find myself needing is only an “apt-get install” away. Sometimes a package can be difficult to locate by name, in which case “apt-file” can be used to search for the actual package name.

    For actual Linux work, the compiler is the tool I rely on most. In addition to translating C and C++ code to machine language, it has an added benefit of exercising the disk channel, DDR memory, and all four processor cores. Recompiling the kernel is a reasonable first order test of system stability. Having a fully functional compiler on the system itself also means I don’t have to worry about a cross compiler on a separate system, which makes it easier to compile and link against unusual libraries, a process that can be awkward when cross compiling.

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

    I run on Novena, a quad core 1.2 GHz ARM board with 4GB RAM. It has a 1920x1080 internal LCD, and I frequently run with a second 1920x1200 HDMI monitor connected externally.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Yes!

Sean Cross's desktop

Interview conducted April 19, 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 27, 2014

The Linux Setup - Jesse Deaton, Student

Jesse volunteered for this and I’m so glad he did. He’s got a lot of great stuff about the freedom and customizability of Linux. But I really related to his section about the joys of troubleshooting a system. Like Jesse, I also find it very relaxing to try and solve problems with my computer. Obviously, depending upon the problem, it can quickly shift from relaxing to wildly frustrating, but aside from those more harrowing times, I enjoy keeping my system running and fixing the minor problems that creep up from time-to-time. As systems become more locked down, that gets harder and harder to do. When things go wrong with my phone, there’s usually not much I can do to fix them, so I’m grateful for any system that lends itself to getting under the hood.

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 Jesse Deaton. I graduated high school in 2011 and am currently an associate’s degree student at a local college on my way to most likely a master’s in computer science. This kind of thing wasn’t really something I planned on doing until a few semesters ago. At that time, I had been working as a dental technician: fabricating dentures and crowns as sort of an apprentice under my dad. It was great experience and opportunity - especially for a job I’ve had since I was 16; I expected to make a career out of it. Computers have always been an interest of mine, on and off. I built my first one when I was 9 or 10 with a Pentium 4 CPU and a whopping 512MB RAM. My first brush with Linux was when my dad bought a stack of disks containing various distros (this was during the time of dial-up). Although the idea of being able to so easily acquire whatever type of operating system you wanted was enticing, it wasn’t until late in high school that I gathered up the courage to try it myself. I enjoy drawing and recording music along with other “creative” hobbies, but I’ve also come to love the challenge and problem solving that goes into programming.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Initially, the move to Linux was driven by my want for personalization or maybe a kind of subconscious resistance to the overwhelming presence of Microsoft everywhere you look, as far as daily computing goes. I’ve gone through a few phases of understanding since then, however, and even though I’m a bigger GNU/Linux and free software user and advocate than ever before, I’ve still come to accept the pros and cons of both mainstream and alternative systems. Some tools are simply better for certain jobs. In my first semester of programming, Linux was a lifesaver. It just worked. I didn’t shudder at the thought of using a command-line to compile code or set up an environment to work out of in the first place, like my poor classmates, since that’s something you get used to pretty quick in Linux. Now I’m at the point where I rarely use the mousepad on my laptop. If all I need to do is write code, I might not even start up the graphics at all. It’s very…liberating. Having such a transparent system allows you to focus on nothing else but doing the best possible work that you can do.

    I like using Linux because not only is it very capable for serious computer work, but for me, it’s also a mix of the pleasure someone gets from seeing how much horsepower they can get out of their car and the light challenge of leisurely working on a Sudoku puzzle. It may be a bit strange sounding, but sometimes after a bad or boring day, I like to come home and think up some new script or modification I can make to speed up the way I use my computer and just forget about everything else.

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

    After much hopping, Crunchbang is what I’ve used the most. That’s a distro and community I can really get behind. I love the stability of Debian and a rolling release is great. Also, you can get a .deb for just about anything these days and the system itself is one of the best to begin more advanced Linux usage on. Especially in Crunchbang form. That distro is what really showed me the power of simplicity. It’s the perfect mix of GUI and Bash and I’ve felt really at home with it. Last weekend I replaced it with Arch, though, which is something I’ve always wanted to get into but has always been just out of my comfort zone until now. It’s pretty great and the package manager is lightning fast. The only thing that bugs me is that the system, with all of the software I use and my entire music library, still take up only about 10% of my hard drive. So it feels like I’ve got all this unused disk space wasting away (ha!).

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

    I’m using a mix of Openbox and Xfce, similar to what you get with Crunchbang since by now, that’s what I’m used to. No session/login manager, though. Just a Bash prompt on startup. I figured it’s kind of pointless to automatically start X when sometimes I just need to use a terminal for a second.

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

    Vim! I didn’t bother keeping a lot of my configs from Crunchbang, but my .vimrc isn’t going anywhere. I’m not a Vim power user by any means, but I am always learning. A big part of a Unix class I took last semester was based around using it and it’s insane what you can do with that editor. My favorite graphical editor is definitely Geany, but while setting up this Arch system I just decided to go Vim all the way. Vim is one of the many tools you’ll find on a *nix system that kind of gives you a sense of awe and respect for its creators the more you use it.

    I’m also partial to pianobar for my Pandora radio needs. Ncmpcpp is a really cool music player, if you feel like setting all that up, and I use Firefox for its web performance and all of the great add-ons. There are a ton of wonderful free software programs that I’m a fan of, though. Clementine player, Audacity, GIMP, and VLC are all programs I use on both Linux and Windows because they are simply some of the best options.

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

    My laptop is a Lenovo Y570 with a 2nd generation i7, 8GB RAM and a Nvidia 555m that I unfortunately don’t really have a use for on that computer. Lenovo is a great Linux laptop as far as compatibility goes and I’d like to have a ThinkPad eventually.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    This setup ended up extremely blue, but I’ve tried to go for an aesthetic that’s easy on the eyes without so much sharp contrast and white space like that which plagues many GUIs today.

Jesse Deaton's desktop

Interview conducted April 2, 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, April 29, 2014

The Linux Setup - Paul D., Developer

I found Paul on Twitter. When I asked if he wanted to be interviewed, he was concerned that he wasn’t notable enough. He’s got a cool setup, though, so it’s safe to declare that notoriety doesn’t necessarily correlate with setup interestingness. Paul’s a proud Arch/Xfce user. While I don’t have the stomach for a rolling release, I’m a fellow Xfce fan.

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 Paul. I’m a software developer from the UK and a recent convert to Linux.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Initially it was just to get off Windows. I used XP for years and ended up hating it, so when Vista launched to poor reviews, I switched to Mac OS X. Three years later I bought a cheap netbook while traveling and it came with XP. After a depressing few months back on Windows, I tentatively installed Ubuntu 10.04.

    Ubuntu was a revelation: all the benefits of a Unix-like OS but without Apple’s hardware lock-in. And it was free! I gradually became more interested in open source and the ideas behind free software. I also found Linux to be an ideal development environment. These are the things that have kept me on Linux.

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

    I’ve been running Arch Linux for the past two years. My netbook ground to a halt after I upgraded to Ubuntu 12.04 so I needed a new distro — something with fewer bells and whistles that could run on low-spec hardware.

    I’d read about Arch and its focus on minimalism, so I decided to give it a go. Installation was a slow and painful process, but once up and running Arch is surprisingly easy to maintain. It’s super lightweight, extremely stable, and really well-documented. Plus, I’m completely sold on rolling releases now.

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

    Since moving to Arch I’ve been using Xfce 4.10. I initially tried Openbox (inspired by CrunchBang), but the novelty of building an entire desktop from scratch quickly wore off. Xfce strikes a nice balance between simplicity and functionality. It stays out of your way and doesn’t drain your system resources. I can’t imagine going back to a GNOME-based desktop.

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

    Probably the only thing specific to Arch is pacman, the package manager. It typifies Arch’s simple approach (I never understood why Ubuntu came with apt-get, Software Center and Synaptic) and makes updating the system quick and easy rather than a chore. I should also mention the ArchWiki, which is an invaluable resource.

    Day to day, I spend most of my time switching between a text editor (Sublime Text or Vim), a browser (usually Chromium), and the terminal. I use gPodder and DeaDBeeF for downloading and playing podcasts and occasionally fire up Inkscape or GIMP for graphics stuff.

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

    A 13” Acer Aspire laptop with dual 1.7GHz Core i5 processors, 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It came with Windows 8 which I took great pleasure in relegating to a tiny partition.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure, although there’s not much to see. It’s Xfce with the Greybird GTK theme and Elementary icons. The wallpaper is a photo of my friend’s dog (now deceased).

Paul D's desktop

Interview conducted March 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.