The Linux Setup – Julien Palard, meltygroup CTO

Julien’s interview is a love letter to tiling window managers. And he makes the fascinating argument that smartphones and tablets all use full-screen tiling. Julien is the CTO of meltygroup, a Gawker-esque collection of news sites, so it’s especially cool to see that Debian is not only powering his servers, but also his work computer.

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


  2. Why do you use Linux?

    You mean versus Windows? I think I started using Linux because I needed to understand what was wrong when something went wrong. But now I find it far faster to work with bash than a graphical interface (you know, the kind of interface where one searches for an icon on a whole screen of icons).

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

    Debian — Stable for my servers, Testing for my laptop (to work), and Testing on my desktop (shared with family at home, with a media player, etc…)

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

    I started around 10 years ago with Window Maker. A few years later I switched to Openbox. I loved the scriptable menus big time, but now I use i3. Why i3? Why a tiling window manager? Because it saves time. I used to only work with windows in full screen (a full-screen terminal, a full-screen Firefox, etc…) so not having to resize them saves time. You think I’m an extremist and that normal people HAVE to get resizable and movable windows? You’re wrong. Take a look at your smartphone and your tablet—tiling window managers are now the norm.

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

    I don’t think I’m Debian-dependent, but I depend on a huge amount of software for everything. I use bash, emacs, echo, grep, sed, awk, find, ls, cut, ping, dig, git, cal, date, cat, and so many, many others…

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

    Actually I’m on my desktop. It’s a fanless 8GB, Core i3, 128GB SSD because I don’t want to hear a fan while listening music. My work laptop is a Samsung Series 9. I had hard time finding a QWERTY one in France. I finally found an American shop that would ship one to France. I can’t work on an AZERTY keyboard because symbols are not paired, which is odd. I used to have an Eee PC, with an AZERTY keyboard, but QWERTY mapping. As long as I didn’t look at my keyboard, it worked.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    It’s an almost unconfigured i3wm with a black background, so there’s nothing to see here—only the i3status on the bottom.

Julien Palard's desktop

Interview conducted May 4, 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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