A few things strike me about James’ interview. For one thing, he finds Linux easier to install and maintain than Windows and OS X. I find the same thing. Maybe it’s not the same in enterprise situations, but at home, I can get most Linux (non-Arch-based…) distros up-and-running in less than two hours. Configuring a Windows machine takes days. James also mentions that he’s gotten used to Unity, which seems to be the book on it. I’m not sure of the extent to which people love Unity the way KDE people love their desktop, but more and more, Unity is something people use, and that says a lot. Finally, James is a gedit guy. Like him, I miss it when I don’t have it on a machine. I actually use the Windows version at work, but it’s just not quite the same.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My names is James Love, and I am the Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a non-profit organization with offices in Washington, DC and Geneva, Switzerland. We focus on better outcomes, including new solutions, to the management of knowledge resources. This includes work on a diverse set of issues including policies on patents, copyright and other types of intellectual property, standards, global norms for supporting research and development, and new production models for knowledge. This year we worked closely with the World Blind Union and others on the successful conclusion of a UN new treaty on copyright exceptions for persons with disabilities (the Marrakesh treaty for the blind), on compulsory licenses on patents for cancer and HIV/AIDS drugs, and on a variety of efforts to use innovation inducement prizes as a substitute for patent monopolies as the incentive to develop new drugs, vaccines and medical diagnostic tests.
Why do you use Linux?
I had used Unix some in graduate school, but began using Linux in 1998, at first just to see if it worked, and if it could provide an alternative to the Microsoft Windows monopoly. Over time Linux has become my favorite operating system, and I find it easier to install and maintain than Microsoft Windows or the Apple operating systems. I actually use several computers at work, home and on the road, and provide some support for other staff. Linux has a lot of advantages, although in our office people are roughly divided between Linux and OS.X I should also say that I am attracted to Linux in part because the production model is driven by user interests, and in part because open and free software is important for maintaining openness and user focused innovations for the desktop and the continued development of the Internet.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
Over time I have used several distributions. My first distribution was Caldera, back in the day when my cousin Ramson Love was involved in the company, and they were playing a positive role in the development of Linux. I switched to Red Hat, and then Fedora for some time. More recently I have used Debian-based distributions, preferring the .deb package management. Currently I use Ubuntu for most computers, but for some older computers in our office, I have Lubuntu installed, which is a light and fast LXDE environment. I also have a Chromebook, which I find useful at times.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
When Ubuntu switched to Unity, I was pretty unhappy at first, and switched briefly to Mint and Lubuntu to have the older style menus back. But in two subsequent releases Unity improved a lot, and now I really like it. What I want is an interface that does not get in the way too much and makes it easy to do basic things like find and launch applications, switch between applications and work spaces, and manage the computer’s resources. As a bonus, I find Ubuntu’s Unity interface requires almost no training for new users.
What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?
It’s hard for me to mention just one application. Like most people, I use a browser more than anything else, and I typically use Chromium, but sometimes Firefox. I use and like gedit a lot, particularly for converting data so I can import it into applications, and as an intermediate step in reformating and editing text. I use LibreOffice, when I am not using Google Docs, and I use GIMP, OpenShot for video editing, and R for statistics. If there is one application that I miss the most when I’m not using Linux, it is gedit.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
At work I have a Gateway desktop with 8GB of RAM and an i7 processor. At home I use a home-built desktop with 8GB of RAM and an i5 processor. For the road I’m currently using a fairly low-end laptop, an HP DM1 with an i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, an SSD, an 11.6-inch screen, and a keyboard with a key missing. I am dying to get a better laptop, but waiting for new models with a Haswell CPU, good battery life, at least a 900p screen, maybe a 13.3- or 14-inch screen, and under four pounds.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted October 21, 2013