The Linux Setup – Tríona O’Connell, Academic

Tríona’s setup is cool, in that a lot of academics, across platforms, use the same tools — things like R and Mendeley and LaTeX. What’s nice about Linux, though, is that these tools are always easily available in a central repository. This gives you a sense of freedom, in that you don’t feel trapped in a distribution or OS when you know the same tools you depend upon are just a click or command away. I’m also pleased to see an Xfce user checking in here. I still love GNOME, but the development process sometimes seems a bit rigid. Xfce is a great alternative that still doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves.

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

    I’m a PhD student in Dublin City University. Mostly I look at the sugars on the surface of cells using specialised detection proteins and expensive pieces of equipment. In my spare time I’m involved with my local hackerspace, TOG, where I like to evangelise about crochet and crafting in general. I also keep a cake blog and get involved in telling the public how awesome science is. I’m pretty busy!

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

    On my main laptop I run Linux Mint Debian Edition with Xfce as my preferred desktop manager. LMDE stopped supporting Xfce recently and I’m somewhat disappointed because I love LMDE and haven’t found an alternative to Xfce that I like. On the other laptops and nettops I use, I have Debian installed, as the rolling LMDE is less suitable for something you turn on every other month.

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

    Mendeley and Kile are probably my most used bits of software after my browser and terminal. Mendeley allows me to keep on top of developments in my research area, and Kile is a great environment for writing LaTeX.

    For image analysis I use ImageJ which is a neat piece of software that the National Institutes of Health have released for getting data from microscope pictures. The GIMP is invaluable for labelling images and for making diagrams for describing how my science works. RStudio is a handy environment for doing statistics using R. Sadly, it doesn’t yet do ALL of my stats for me; I have to figure out what to tell R before it can do the calculations!

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

    My main laptop was provided by work; it’s a Dell Lattitude E6510.

  5. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    My ideal setup isn’t far off what I have now. Maybe a lighter computer would be nice, as I carry the laptop EVERYWHERE as I’m so attached to everything on it.

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    That’s our venus flytrap. It was living on a table outdoors last summer when I took the photo. You can tell it’s in good shape because the little mouths are more pink than green.

Triona O'Connell's desktop

Interview conducted March 24, 2013


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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