The Linux Setup – Dusty Phillips, Developer

Dusty Phillips certainly falls into the power user category and his answers reflect that status. Dusty runs a tight system that’s optimized for his workflow. And it’s fascinating that he does so much with just one machine.

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

    I am Dusty Phillips, and I wear many hats. Professionally, I am a Canadian freelance software developer who works primarily with Python. Lately, I’ve done a lot of Django work, but I wouldn’t typecast myself as a Django developer.

    I’m the author of the book Python 3 Object Oriented Programming. I expect to be writing another book soon, and I also spend a fair bit of time editing and proofreading.

    In the open source world, I have held too many positions within the Arch Linux community to count. I think these days, I’m most known as the maintainer of the Arch Linux Schwag store.

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

    Arch Linux. I’ve used it since December of 2003. At first, I would toy with new distributions when they came out, but I have been satisfied with Arch’s direction for so long, now, that I’ve stopped experimenting.

  3. What software do you depend upon with this distribution?

    In distribution specific terms, pacman is a key component, obviously. The other Arch-specific tool I use a lot is netcfg.

    In day-to-day use, I rely largely on my terminal and gvim or vim. I recently switched to Eterm, as gnome-terminal and a few other gtk apps have been acting up recently.

    I couldn’t get by in my work without bash, SSH, PostgreSQL, Python, and random packages from the Python Package Index.

    I run Firefox and Chrome about equally for web browsing and development, but I’m satisfied with neither. Firefox has a slight edge because the NoScript plugin works better than NotScript, and Chrome no longer allows me to decide whose cookies I accept. But Chrome is faster and definitely has an edge on Javascript intensive webapps.

    I use awesomeWM for my window manager. It always does exactly what I need with the minimal amount of fuss.

  4. What kind of hardware do you run it on?

    I’ve been trying to scrape the money together to upgrade my four year old ThinkPad x60 for several months. I’m amazed at the kind of abuse this machine has taken, but it keeps putting up with me.

    I divide my time between my desk with a 24" external monitor and Kinesis advantage Pro Dvorak keyboard, and my couch, where the 12" laptop is sufficient.

    Aside from servers and VPS’s scattered around, the ThinkPad is the only machine I own. I don’t believe in underpowered netbooks or overpowered desktops. Having only one machine that I can plug in or pack up and take with me means I rarely have to worry about syncing and I don’t get excited about storing my data in the cloud.

  5. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    Newer hardware than what I have would be nice, but I have my software configured exactly the way I want it. Of course, I tweak things here and there, but there isn’t much that frustrates me right now (barring those broken gtk apps I mentioned).

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure. There’s not much to see, since awesome keeps out of the way. I think I’m using a zenburn theme at the moment.

Dusty Phillips' desktop

Interview conducted May 23, 2011

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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