The Linux Setup – Jorge Castro, Ubuntu Community Team

Jorge’s a cool guy. I’ve previously linked to his post about bringing developers into the conversations end-users have about products. He’s passionate about Ubuntu, Linux, and the user experience. All of that comes through very strongly in his interview. Jorge links to a video about how he uses Unity, and the video is fascinating, in that Jorge really talks about how he works and the tools he uses to organize his work. Whether you like Unity, hate Unity, or don’t care about it, the video is a wonderful insight into Jorge’s work process — a process that will probably feel very familiar to a lot of us.

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

    My name is Jorge Castro and I work at Canonical USA on Ubuntu, more specifically on Ubuntu Server related technologies like Juju. My job is to enable the community to enjoy working on these tools and its surrounding ecosystem. I’ve been using Unixes since the early 90s.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I’ve always bent towards alternative operating systems. When my friends had C64s, I had a TRS-80. When people ran MS-DOS on PCs, I was interested in DR-DOS. By the time I hit college in the early 90s I was on OS/2 and doing things Windows users could only dream about. It really wasn’t an accident that I would end up on Linux—it seems like a natural thing.

    At some point I began running Linux professionally, and after years of tinkering and sysadmining, the opportunity to work on Ubuntu presented itself in 2004, and I dove right in. From 2008 on, I was fortunate enough to work at an OSS company.

    By now using Linux is just a part of my day-to-day life —I couldn’t imagine using an OS that I haven’t participated in. After a while something that is your labor of love just becomes part of what you do.

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

    I use Ubuntu on everything.

    I use 12.04 on the home server and my wife’s computer, and 13.04 on my desktop and laptop. We dogfood heavily in Canonical so at any given point I will be using the development release, “Ubuntu +1” with whatever PPAs someone has asked me to test. In the old days this could be tricky, but these days with active QA on the trunk of the development release, it has been real easy to test without my computers becoming unreliable.

    Raring was just released and I’m enjoying it, but after this next UDS, I’ll likely switch over to “saucy” to spice up my life.

  4. What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?

    I use Unity because it’s awesome. 🙂

    Before Unity I used GNOME Do with the standard desktop, along with either AWN or Docky. When we announced that the authors of Do, AWN, and Docky were working on a new desktop it intrigued me.

    I love the way Unity works for me. First of all, it brings search-oriented features to the desktop, I don’t need to hunt and peck for what I want—I can either search quickly without my hands leaving the keyboard or use one of the many keyboard shortcuts to get things done. I can also multitask like a
    boss like I never could before, although I should probably update this video:

    On top of that, there’s the HUD which means I usually never need to waste time hunting in application menus, I can just click alt and search.

    In the end I want to care about my apps and have my desktop out of my way and Unity does that perfectly.

  5. What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?

    The single most important piece of end-user software we’re shipping right now is probably OpenStack. Although that isn’t a fair assessment, OpenStack is a bunch of little projects that combine together. When combined with all the server tools we provide it’s a pretty compelling platform. Our new service orchestration tool, Juju, lets people deploy things to all sorts of clouds, public and OpenStack. It’s pretty much a game-changer for cloud servers, so it gets my vote as a tool likely to change the way people work with the cloud.

    My favorite piece of desktop software is probably Mario Kemper’s Shutter, which is an absolutely brilliant tool.

  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My main PC is a Asus CM6870, which I use for my day-to-day tasks. I tossed an Intel SSD in there for the / drive, and it’s been a really fast computer for my needs.

    My laptop is a Lenovo Thinkpad X220, though it’s showing its age so I’m about to pull the trigger on a Thinkpad X1 Carbon.

    My home server is an HP Proliant Microserver with 12TB of storage on btrfs. I still haven’t live-migrated to RAID 5, but I plan on backing up and trying it out soon. I also have a Roku3, which has some kind of Linux on it; I’m not sure of the specifics.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here’s my desktop. Other than the size of the launcher icons and using the community-submitted wallpapers, it’s pretty much stock. I work with dual monitors:

Jorge Castro's desktop

Interview conducted May 13, 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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