The Linux Setup – Matt Dobson, PC Repairman

I found Matt through Lifehacker, where his desktops have often been featured (more of his work can be seen here). Matt’s interview is interesting because of his focus on the visual aesthetics of his desktop. It’s a change from what people usually discuss here and for me it’s particularly enlightening because I tend to forget about the visual flexibility of Linux. Productivity is great, but sometimes you just want your desktop environment to look cool. Matt’s good at connecting to that idea.

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

    I’m Matt Dobson (commonly known as Dobbie), 34 from New Zealand. I work at a local electrical wholesaler as the estimating/all-round-Mr.-PC-Fix-It guy.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I love the versatility of it, the speed of booting/shutdown, etc. I love the freedom to do whatever the hell I want with my MY computer that I paid for 🙂 I still use Windows/OS X at home, but not for long. I find them both clunky and difficult to use. I get annoyed that I can’t make my computer look or work how I would like it to when I use anything other than Ubuntu or another distro.

    I get bored quickly of Windows or OS X and return to my main PC pretty quickly. I’m not a hardcore Linux guy who can do all these weird and wonderful things — I use what I am comfortable using. My main thing is to make my desktop look good and to listen to some good sounds.

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

    On my main PC I switch between elementary OS and Ubuntu (normally standard Ubuntu with GNOME Shell added on after; I find this more stable than GNOME edition). I just installed Ubuntu 13.10 GNOME edition on my laptop and so far it seems pretty solid.

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

    I like to switch it up. I love KDE, I love GNOME Shell and I love Pantheon. So, which environment I want to use depends on my mood. Having said that, I prefer GNOME Shell. I just love the way it all flows, though Pantheon has really taken my fancy lately. Every once in a while I catch myself daydreaming about the good old GNOME 2 days, wishing GNOME Shell never arrived. But, you gotta move with progress 😀

    Personally, I think Pantheon is heading in the right direction and I am really interested to see what the guys at SolusOS come up with on their upcoming release.
    EDITOR’S NOTE: A few days after this interview, the SolusOS project shut down.

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

    Audacious. For me, my PC is where I listen to all my music and I listen to a heck of a lot of music. I don’t tinker much in the terminal unless I am installing/updating or whatever and Audacious is the best sounding, easiest to use, most reliable Linux music player in my opinion. I’m not a big fan of music programs that take all day to scan your music library and eat up resources while keeping tabs on that particular watch folder.

    Audacious is a simple and easy on the PC program to run, plus it seems to be well maintained by the developers.

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

    I run this on a dirty old Acer Aspire M3910, 4GB RAM and a 1GB AMD 5500 GPU and roughly 3TBs of HDD space, all with a lovely 27" LED monitor. All of this is attached to my magnificent Yamaha amplifier and four floor standing speakers. My PC is nothing special but it does the trick.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Share my desktop? Bugger off, it’s all mine! Kidding, here is my latest. This is elementary OS, Plank , Covergloobus, Conky, and
    this wallpaper.

Matt Dobson's desktop

Interview conducted October 22, 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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