I found Niki through Steven Rosenberg. Niki is a dedicated Slackware user, who makes a compelling case for using it here. As you might expect from a Slackware user, Niki’s setup is hardcore, including a hand-built KDE implementation. But what’s great is that despite his considerable skills, Niki says he uses Linux because it’s fun. When people ask me about Linux, my knee-jerk reaction is to go into the technology and the politics, but the real reason I spend so much time with Linux is that it’s just a lot of fun to work with. So I’m grateful to Niki for the reminder about the joy of Linux.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Niki Kovacs. I’m the manager of Microlinux, a small IT company in South France focusing 100% on GNU/Linux. I’m providing Linux-based solutions for professional clients like small town halls, public libraries, schools and local radio stations.
Why do you use Linux?
I discovered Linux in 2001, when I was doing some PHP development for a small book editor. The EasyPHP setup on my Windows box wasn’t working very well, and someone in a PHP developer forum suggested I “just install Linux.” I went to the local bookstore in Montpellier and bought a Slackware Linux 7.1 CD. I had a hard time installing it and figuring it out, so I joined the now-defunct basiclinux.net mailing list with a strong determination to get a serious grasp on all of this. In retrospect, this now seems like wanting to work out a bit and joining the Foreign Legion paratroopers. I’ve been 100% GNU/Linux since that time. And I’m still using Linux for a host of reasons. Because of the freedom. The transparency. The flexibility. The community. The robustness of the system. And last but not least, because it’s fun.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I’m running Slackware Linux on all of my desktops, servers and laptops. I’ve used all kinds of distributions over the years, from Mandrake to Debian to CentOS and RHEL. For the last couple of years, I’ve simply stopped looking at other distributions. I know Slackware quite well and the distribution feels like “Linux done right” to me.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I’m using my personal blend of KDE 4.10.5, built from scratch. I’m running a heavily-modded Xfce 4.10 on my old Panasonic Toughbook.
What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?
I don’t use anything distro-specific. In my day-to-day work, I have a few Konsole terminals open with SSH sessions on remote servers. I’m using Vim for pretty much everything, from writing shell scripts to editing configuration files to web development with PHP, XHTML and CSS. I’ve been managing office documents with OpenOffice since version 0.99 (which had that horrible “East German” look), and now I’m still with Apache OpenOffice, version 4.0.1. On servers I rely upon Apache, PHP, MySQL, Postfix, Dovecot, Postgrey, Icecast, MPD — the list can get quite long.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
I have half a dozen boxes quietly humming in my office. My main workhorse PC is a battered workstation with an AMD Phenom Quad-Core processor, 4GB RAM, 2 x 750GB hard disks configured in a RAID 1 array and a dual monitor. All of my data resides on an HP Proliant Microserver with 4 x 250GB disks in a RAID 5 array. I’m typing these lines on my latest acquisition, a Logitech Illuminated Keyboard.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted November 29, 2013