I first ran into Robin on the Xubuntu mailing list, where he occasionally posted questions. His blog, which was in his signature, seemed pretty interesting, so I invited him to participate here. Robin gladly accepted and gave some great responses. Sadly, when I went to check on his blog prior to posting this, I read that he had died in late October.
As it seemed Robin’s family had taken control of his blog, I wrote back to his email account, requesting permission to post this. Someone wrote back and graciously granted it. I appreciate their generosity in allowing me to post this.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Robin Lyndsay Taylor. I’m a full time university student and part-time choreographer and instructor of a percussive folk dance known as clogging. I’ll turn 18 years old this month, yay!
- What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I’m down to one single computer for the time being, and I run Xubuntu 10.04 because I require the stability of it’s long-term support, and it performs beautifully on my modest, aging hardware. I also like it’s superb simplicity and configurability. I was using Linux Mint Xfce (9th edition) but when they switched the base of the distro to Debian, which for some reason balks on my hardware, I “ran home” to Xubuntu. I didn’t need to, though, since Linux Mint 9 Xfce is built on Xubuntu 10.04 – and without PulseAudio and some other stuff in Xubuntu that has been troublesome.
That said though, I couldn’t resist trying out SalixOS when I heard about its Slackware base (something completely new, unfamiliar, and challenging for me) and extremely long-term support. Unlike many of the Slackware spin-offs, SalixOS is fully compatible with it’s parent distro (even Ubuntu is incompatible with its Debian parent now). Version 8.1 from 2002 is still getting security updates! That’s like nine YEARS of support! You don’t find that kind of long life in most other distros, and updates do not break Slackware. It just doesn’t happen. At the summer break, I’ll likely switch to SalixOS as my main distro. It runs flawlessly on my hardware, and to my amazement, even the live CD experience was snappier than installed Xubuntu!
- What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
I use Audacity to edit music for the dance routines I write; Seamonkey for web browsing and e-mail because I still like to put cutesy little images and formatting in my e-mails to friends. What can I say, some kids never grow up. But I find Seamonkey much less demanding on resources than the more popular Mozilla browser and separate e-mail client. I use Xournal a lot for taking notes at school and annotating pdf files. Abiword and Gnumeric have been sufficient so far in all my schoolwork, but I suspect that college coursework will require a fancier office suite soon, and that will likely be LibreOffice. The Gimp lets me edit photos and images for school and dance projects. During a brief flirtation with LXDE I discovered the PCManFM file manager which I like even better than Thunar for it’s simplicity and speed. Exaile and Gnome Movie Player are more than sufficient for my other multimedia needs. And of course, the Xfce “goodies” are icing on the cake. I know docks are all the rage, but the Xfce panel with goodies does everything a dock does with less fuss and demands on resources.
- What kind of hardware do you run it on?
My only computer is a hand-me-down Dell Dimension B110. With 512 RAM and Celeron processor, it’s been just super for over seven years! And it was used when I got it! I’ve had it since middle school and never needed anything else. But the dance studio has a Toshiba Satellite which I use in my classes (Audacity lets me adjust the tempo of a song without changing its pitch – perfect for learning a new dance) that dual-boots Linux Mint 9 Xfce and Crunchbang Linux; and we keep a reeeeally old Dell desktop at the studio that I saved from the landfill with a minimal Ubuntu/LXDE mixture that amazes everyone who uses it because of its speed on that ancient dinosaur.
- What is your ideal Linux setup?
It has to be pretty, it has to be simple (I’m mildly autistic and I share my computer with other “dance kids” – no geeky skills among them), and it has to be fast! Xfce does all of that for me. I find that it is applications that tend to slow things down more than a desktop environment does. So lightweight applications, minimal “eye candy,” a simple, speedy, clean icon-free desktop (I launch everything from the panel or the right-click menu). Openbox does that for me too, but I just love that Xfce panel!
- Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Happy to! Inspired by Ubuntu’s wicked-cool looking Unity desktop which is too much for my hardware, I fixed up my Xfce desktop to look and behave “Unity-like.” I think Ubuntu is onto something really good with Unity (that ought to reduce my popularity with your readers, lol), and in another year or so Unity will be awesome! Here’s my “cheap imitation Unity” desktop (my menu icon is a Hershey’s kiss! I love messing around with little details like that, lol.):
Interview conducted Sept. 10, 2011