The Linux Setup – Jack Wallen, Novelist/Journalist

Another interview, another subject who appreciates Linux because of its ability to stay out of the users’ way. It doesn’t seem like ‘letting people work’ should be that big a deal for a desktop operating system, but as Microsoft and Apple move to creating operating systems for devices, rather than for people, desktop usability has become a rarer situation for many. Jack is also a big Unity fan, which feels like the norm more and more. It’s especially interesting given that Unity is built for desktops and devices. But there seems to be more consensus that Unity happens to work well for serious desktop work.

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

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

    My name is Jack Wallen. I am an author of fiction (check me out on and and a tech journalist for,, and other sites. I’ve been covering open source for nearly 20 years.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    In 1996 I was using my first PC with Windows 95. After enough blue screens o’ death, I’d had enough and decided to find an alternative. That led me to Caldera Open Linux 1.0…which led me to Red Hat Linux. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I use Linux because it allows me to get my work done exactly how I want. With Linux I don’t suffer the constraints that either Apple or Windows places on their users. That freedom allows me to work more efficiently and more reliably.

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

    I currently use Ubuntu 14.04. There are a lot of reasons I find Ubuntu to be one of the best desktops available. One such reason is Canonical’s drive to get Ubuntu on as many devices as possible. With the power of Debian under the foundation, Ubuntu is simply one of the most reliable distributions available. I have, however, been looking at Linux Deepin a great deal. I really love what they’ve done with the desktop interface.

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

    Personally, I like the Unity interface. I find it one of the most efficient and powerful desktops available. Between the Dash search and the launcher, it’s an amazingly friendly way to interact with your system. Outside of its efficiency, it’s also one of the most modern looking desktops the Linux community has to offer.

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

    That’s a tough one. Outside of the standard-issue software (web browser, email client, office suite), I’d have to say Audacity. I do a weekly podcast and cannot imagine doing it without the help of Audacity. It’s one of the finest pieces of open source audio software available for recording podcasts.

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

    I have a System76 Leopard Extreme. It’s, without a doubt, the most powerful computer I have ever laid my hands on.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Jack Wallen's desktop

Interview conducted June 11, 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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