The Linux Setup – David Wickes, Software Developer

I was psyched to get David for this because at the time of the interview he was a brand new Linux user. It’s very cool to see someone at the beginning of their Linux journey. Now keep in mind, David is transitioning into software development, so he’s kind of a technical guy and his move into Linux is probably smoother than most. But it’s great that someone who wants a professional operating system and is priced out of the Mac market has a way to get easy access to the command line and a UNIX-like environment. I went to a GitHub workshop a few weeks ago and the facilitator was using OS X, which seems to be the norm at these kinds of things. I opened up the terminal on my Linux machine and I was able to use all of her commands. The Windows people had some issues, though. So in terms of quickly getting up-and-running in a development environment, David definitely made the right call.

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

    I’m David Wickes. I currently work as a digital marketer, but at the beginning of the year I decided I was going to retrain as a software developer. So that’s what I’m up to at the moment, learning a lot about Ruby (on Rails or otherwise), writing bad code and making it better.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I’ve been using Linux for about three days now. The decision was based on the cumulative effect of reading many, many books and online courses on learning to program. Each of them had a section on how to get started, installing Ruby on your system — Windows, OS X, and Linux — and how to start setting up your ‘developer environment,’ which I guess is just a fancy way of describing the use of the command line in combination with the text editor of your choice to write code.

    My laptop came with Windows 7, so those are the instructions I went with. I kept bumping into little problems — a lot of the Windows-based software couldn’t be run from the command line without some modification, the command line was hard to bring up, it was all just a little bit awkward. The final straw came when the Ruby on Rails tutorial I was following essentially went “Windows is funny. Here. Run this package installer. Now, everyone else do this…” and went on to describe how each individual part of the Rails setup was installed. I didn’t want to miss out.

    Friends had said Macs were great for development, but I don’t have that kind of free money. So Linux it was!

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

    I’d used Ubuntu once before (I bought an Asus EEE way back when and tried a few different distros), so I thought that would make a good starting point. I was amazed at how much easier it was to install than my first tries about eight years ago. I had it up and going within an evening. It’s Ubuntu 14.04.

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

    Um…you see, it’s questions like this that both excite and scare me a little. I had to read through earlier responses to My Linux Rig just to begin to understand it. So I can use Ubuntu but change the way the front (the desktop environment) acts and behaves? Sweet — all that power! But knowing me, I’d be in danger of spending a few weeks trying them all.

    For now I’m sticking with Unity (for now — that’s three days in mind you), and I’m finding it great. I already reckon I’m faster with it than with the Windows 7 desktop, so I’m really not complaining. And I think it’s good looking too.

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

    I’m going to pick two, only one of which I’m sure about. Sublime Text 3 is a great text editor, and I sometimes think it’s reading my mind. I find myself writing everything on it: code, blog posts, letters, shopping lists, this. It’s a pleasure to use and since I’ve synced its settings folder using Dropbox, it’s exactly the same setup as I have in the office (on a Windows Vista machine…let’s not talk about that).

    The second is Guake Terminal. Hit F12 and bang! The terminal drops down from the top (just like in Doom! Or Quake! Am I showing my age?). This is great when working with a limited screen space and reading a tutorial and writing a file while I’m also running it from the terminal.

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

    It’s a Packard Bell laptop, 4GB RAM and an Intel i5.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Yes — although it’s a bit boring…

David Wickes' desktop

Interview conducted April 30, 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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