Andrey makes a fascinating point in his interview: that specific software isn’t important when you have choice. For instance, Andrey doesn’t rely on one type of text editor. Instead, he has a few different text editors, in case there’s an issue with one. While it’s nice to have just one piece of software for one type of task, the reality is most of us have some redundancy in our setups, since there aren’t many pieces of software that are completely flawless. Choice allows us to make software perfect by committee.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Andrey Hihlovskiy, I am a Russian software engineer working and living in Bonn, Germany. I work for a German company, startext GmbH. We develop software for archives and museums in Germany and other countries.
I’m passionate about interpreted languages and open-source software. My tools include Groovy, Gradle, Git and many modern JVM-based frameworks and libraries.
Why do you use Linux?
I use Linux at work as well as at home. A Linux system for a programmer is like water for a fish—you just live in it. The whole stack—from bash and tcpdump to build tools to IDEs—is open, modular, fast and reliable.
The ext4 file system is a blessing. It is extremely fast and reliable. I haven’t had any performance or integrity problems with it for years. I reinstall Linux systems once or twice a year; just out of curiosity about new versions or alternate desktops. But I leave /home intact so it just works. Of course, all important files are synced elsewhere, so surviving probable future hard drive failure is not a problem.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
Currently it is Linux Mint 17 64-bit.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
On power machines I use Cinnamon. Nowadays it is a very stable and usable DE, requiring very little (if any) tweaking after installation.
On legacy machines I use Xfce. Sometimes it seems to be less convenient than Cinnamon, but it is still extremely fast and very stable.
What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?
I don’t depend on any particular piece of Linux software. Quite the reverse, I enjoy the interchangeability of all parts. If gedit could not open a 500MB text file, I use Mousepad for it. If diffuse stumbles on comparing files, I use meld instead. Every popular program has alternatives.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
Power machines: Intel i5 with 16GB operating memory and 500GB hard drive.
Legacy machines: Intel Atom, 1GB operating memory, 100GB hard drive.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted August 4, 2014