I actually found Emmanuel while researching Stella for last week’s interview. Manu got a nice shout-out on the Stella page and I was curious to learn more. Manu’s setup is Debian-based and seems carefully refined. Be sure to check out the ideal Linux setup section, which has a very interesting take on the concept of personal servers.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
I am a self-taught system administrator and web developer, and also a photographer (amateur). I actually studied fashion design so I had a bit of brain reconfiguration to do at some point. I’ve been using GNU/Linux full-time for about 10 years now.
I also maintain (or attempt to maintain) a website with rants/blogs, tutorials and photography.
- What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
Debian, of course.
Actually for the first time ever I am using testing (wheezy) on my main desktop, I can’t wait for it to become stable. I really like Debian stable because it’s the most non-disruptive operating system I have ever used. I love when my computer doesn’t surprise me with new features, layouts and mostly, new bugs.
Don’t get me wrong — new features are great, but it’s a big, unnecessary pain to have to spend time re-figuring out how your photo management program works because of an “upgrade.” I already have the Internet (kittens) as a way to disrupt my workflow, so upgrades…meh.
I prefer to be completely amazed by all the new stuff once every three years or so. :]
- What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
For the desktop I use KDE. I sometimes switch to Xfce4 while dreaming about Trinity Desktop. However I also use Debian for virtually every computing task I do. That goes from server software (mail, web, db, chat, dns, etc…) to desktop software. For the desktop the most important application to me is a terminal, wicd-curses, and the browsers, mostly IceCat and Iceweasel (I use separate browsers for trusted and non-trusted browsing).
- What kind of hardware do you run it on?
My laptop is an i7 with 8GB of RAM, which is incredibly powerful. I also use an external monitor.
Up until a few months ago I was still using a Pentium M 1.7GHz laptop which is now seven years old. The old computer would run just fine for most things. It was only when I got a new camera that took high resolution photos that I felt a need to upgrade (oh, and also because of “HD video”).
I think the hardware these days is way too powerful for most of us, or most of what we do, I am counting on keeping this new computer for as long as possible.
- What is your ideal Linux setup?
I would just love a full featured desktop environment that doesn’t use so many resources and offers less disruptions (I even think about going back to WindowMaker, my first DE back in the day).
In an ideal world, desktop software would be developed for the desktop and not a specific desktop environment. I find it really sad that certain programs are designed “for KDE” or “for GNOME,” even if they can run in any DE.
Another idealistic idea would be that people run their own personal servers directly on their desktop/laptops. For some services it would be a bit tricky as they would suffer during downtime, like websites, however other services, such as mail servers, are designed to work even when unavailable for short periods of time. An XMPP server, if personal, only needs to be up when its user is up. There are ways to get static IPs, even when roaming (VPN for example). For this idea, there’s a lot of thinking to do, but my ideal Linux setup would involve self-hosting directly on the personal computer.
- Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted September 19, 2012