The Linux Setup – Morgan Phillips, Software Engineer/Poet

I found Morgan through Linux Poetry, which is an amazing site (this poem is one of my favorites). Reading her thoughts on Linux, you can hear her poetry skills: “working in Linux is like swimming in water that’s crystal clear.” Her setup is fairly standard for an engineer — pretty much anything that gives her access to a terminal.

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

    I’m Morgan, aka mrrrgn. I studied physics at Western Kentucky University, worked for the Army Research Laboratory and a small defense contractor writing network security software, then spent time at Facebook in an ops role where I was sort of a… data janitor, helping to maintain their Hadoop/Hive-based analytics infrastructure. These days I’m a software engineer at a startup in Nashville, Tennessee called Artist Growth where I get to do a bit of everything (which I love). I also write poetry about the Linux kernel at linux-poetry.com and maintain a small galaxy of other side projects. 🙂

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Well, I’m going to gush a bit. On a philosophical level Linux has always appealed to me because I feel that it represents a sort of freedom: to share knowledge and understand how the tools I depend on work. Working in Linux is like swimming in water that’s crystal clear; proprietary operating systems, where I can’t see the source, feel murky and make me feel a bit uneasy.

    In a practical sense, I feel that Linux’s sensible implementation and infinite flexibility make it the best tool for nearly any job. It’s easy for me to write scripts that automate tedious tasks and customize my environment to the hilt. I also believe using Linux has made me a better programmer since it makes the layers underneath my own code so transparent.

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

    I generally run Mint these days, although I’ve used openSUSE and Ubuntu in the past.

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

    Cinnamon. I started using this after I switched to Mint. I spend most of my time in the terminal so I’m not too picky.

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

    Honestly, I don’t depend on anything that’s specific to Mint. That said, I think Mint (like Ubuntu) is awesome for its stability and ease-of-use for arch nerds and computer novices alike. I installed it for my not-at-all-computer-savvy father a few years ago and noticed a significant drop in the number of “support” calls I got from him as compared to when he used Windows.

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

    A Clevo W230ST. It’s a beast of a laptop!

    • i7-4700MQ Processor (2.40GHz), 6MB L3 Cache
    • GTX 765M
    • 16GB DDR3
    • 256GB SSD
  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    I don’t keep anything interesting on the desktop; but you might notice that I ❤ tmux, vim, and orange text!

Morgan Phillips' desktop

Interview conducted April 29, 2014


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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