The Linux Setup – Keith Milner, Telecom Engineer

I found Keith after he commented on my Linux music post. As you’ll see, though, Keith does way more than music on his Linux machines. Plus, he’s a Mandriva user (for now, as you’ll read).

I also appreciate that Keith doesn’t upgrade his OS just for the sake of upgrading it. I’m trying to be more mindful about my distro upgrading and Keith is now serving as a positive role model for me.

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

    My name is Keith Milner and I am a telecommunications engineer. I run my own company providing engineering consulting to fixed-line and mobile telecommunications service providers and their suppliers. I’ve worked in the telecommunications industry for over 20 years, and have worked on almost every technical system involved including service development, billing, network design, and network and service monitoring and management system architectures. I have been running my own company since 2003, and in that time I have worked on a range of projects for customers including T-Mobile, Cable & Wireless, Orange, Portugal Telecom, Telekom Malaysia, Eircom, and multiple projects for BT.

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

    I’m currently running Mandriva 2011 on both my desktop and my laptop. Depending on the project I’m on I can either be working at home for extended periods (as I am currently) or on the customer site. I recently spent a few months on a customer site in Malaysia, and in that case my laptop becomes my main system.

    I’ve previously dabbled with Redhat, Suse, Ubuntu and others, but I have generally been very happy with Mandriva. I have always preferred the KDE environment over GNOME. In the early days when KDE2 came out (and I was running Redhat) I used to compile the latest KDE releases to use on my system. These days things are more mission-critical and I prefer to have a supported, packaged system. Whether I change this in the future depends on Mandriva’s future.

    My laptop is actually a triple boot setup, and also has Windows XP on it. I often do a lot of hands-on work on customer’s systems and for this I find Linux simply much more productive and powerful than Windows. The only time I use Windows is when a customer project mandates the use of a particular piece of software. In practice I find this doesn’t happen often, but having WIndows allows me to support this when it does.

    The third boot option on my laptop is AVLinux which I use for messing around with music production. I’ve previously used Ubuntu Studio, but found AVLinux to be much better for me.

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

    As part of my job I often end up doing software development. I use Eclipse for almost all of this, with subversion running on a separate server. I also use OpenOffice (and now LibreOffice) for documentation, Gnucash for my invoicing and company accounts. And, of course, I also use a browser. These days I mainly use Chrome with the occasional use of Firefox. I’ve recently been using Google Hangouts a lot and I’m one of the regulars on the Tech And Coffee hangout (www.techandcoffee.info) and for this I use Webcamstudio, which I compiles from SVN. I also use Kontact as a general email/PIM system, although my use of that has declined recently since I switched my company email over to Google Apps. I also use VMWare quite a bit as it’s a good way to simulate customer production or lab setups.

    On AVLinux I use Jack Connection kit, Ladish, Hydrogen, Rosegarden and Ardour as well as a bunch of other tools.

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

    My desktop is a Scan Computers custom configuration powered by an overclocked (4GHz) Intel I7, and with 12G of RAM.

    My laptop is an old but still quite pokey Dell D620 with 4G RAM. I may upgrade this sometime this year as it’s starting to creak a little and it’s seen quite a bit of action.

    I tend to buy relatively high end hardware that lasts me a few years (I bought the Dell back in 2007). I look for the “sweet spot” to get a high specification, but not the highest, where you are paying a premium.

  5. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    I think pretty much what I have. To me it’s a productivity tool and I don’t obsess too much over specs. I only tend to upgrade the OS when I find the versions of the apps I use perhaps need a refresh.

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    I run a pair of 22" HD screens in Twinview mode so the desktop is quite large.

Keith Mildesktop

Interview conducted February 26, 2012


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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