The Linux Setup – Lev Lazinskiy, Support Technician/Student

Last week I wrote about how people bailed on Unity because it was a little rough when it was first released. Lev makes a great case that it’s a similar situation with GNOME 3, which also had some growing pains before it settled in to what many, including Lev and myself, consider to be a top-notch desktop environment. Lev also makes a great case for the value of ownCloud, which I’ve actually played with via an Amazon instance.

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

    My name is Lev Lazinskiy. I am 26, a US Navy veteran, musician, and avid GNU/Linux user. I recently joined the support team at Linode and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Linux on a daily basis! I am also a graduate student in Computer Science at NOVA Southeastern University. I am currently working on my master’s with a specialization in databases and plan on continuing on to get my PhD.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I first started to use Linux in 2002. The first computer I ever bought was a Gateway desktop from the Gateway Store (remember those?). It ran Windows XP and had a Celeron processor, 40GB hard drive and a whopping 128MB of RAM. XP was pretty light-weight compared to today’s operating systems but after a few months of chugging along it became more and more unbearable to use. I was certain that there had to be a better way! I remember seeing SuSE 8.0 at Microcenter for $40 and I picked up a copy. Back then I still had dial-up so downloading ISOs was not a viable option. It took me a few days to install SuSE and figure everything out. I was instantly amazed with how fast, responsive, useful, and powerful SuSE was. I instantly fell in love with the operating system and have never really looked back.

    As I learned more about the origins of GNU, Linux, and the free software movement, I was inspired by the idea that thousands of people around the world working on projects in their spare time could create something so brilliant. It made me really want to be a part of this community.

    Over the years I continue to use Linux because it is stable, secure, open and most importantly it has the absolute best community out there! Through my IT career I have worked with and supported various different platforms. I like Linux the best because it does not impose any arbitrary limits (i.e., the 50 different tiers of Windows Server editions), have any walled gardens, and allows the user to be in full control. For example, I hate that I do not have the power to remove some applications in Windows or OS X (the same goes for Android). Apparently, a full-screen photo viewer (Windows 8) is an integral part of the operating system.

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

    I spent my first five years as a Linux user distro-hopping and tried everything under the sun. Then I found Debian. I love Debian because it is stable, has a great community, and is 100% supported and developed by volunteers. It is great to have a distribution that does not answer to any sort of corporate interests. I also greatly appreciate Debian’s commitment to Free Software.

    I am currently running Debian Testing (Jessie) on my laptop and I run Debian Stable (Wheezy) on my server.

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

    I use GNOME 3, which was recently upgraded to version 3.12 in Debian Testing. GNOME 3 got a whole lot of negative attention when it first appeared but I have been using it for a few years now and I have been very pleased with the progress that the GNOME team and contributors have made in terms of the UI, extensions, and overall user experience. I like GNOME 3 because it gets out of the way, but also makes it easy to find files, applications, and quickly switch between tasks.

    I think that it is a shame that GNOME 3 got so much bad press upon its initial release. A lot of people simply wrote it off and unfortunately are not able to take advantage of all of the enhancements that have been released over the last few years. If your hardware is able to support GNOME 3, I would certainly recommend that you give it another shot.

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

    There is a ton of software that I use and depend on, but the one that stands out is ownCloud. I use it to sync files, notes, documents, contacts, and calendars across my laptops, desktops and mobile devices. I love ownCloud because it is super simple to set up and configure, you are able to take control of your own data, it is highly extensible, and the only limitation is how much storage space you have on your server! I am huge fan of ownCloud and other decentralized cloud services because they allow you to take advantage of all the benefits of being “in the cloud” without having to give up your privacy or your data to some third party.

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

    I do all of my work on a 14" Acer V5 473P laptop that I got from the Microsoft Store. I love this laptop! It has a great screen, backlit keyboard, an amazing five to six-hour battery life, and a great keyboard. Ironically (being from the Microsoft Store and all), it is one of the few laptops that has a wireless card that runs with 100% free software drivers (Qualcomm Atheros AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter).

    It has an Quad Core Haswell i5@1.6 GHz, 12GB RAM, and a 500GB SSD hard drive. I absolutely love the SSD; this laptop boots in about three seconds and everything just feels zippier. This is one of the few laptops that I have ever owned that I could not really say anything negative about.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Absolutely! Has anyone ever said no to this question?

    EDITOR’S NOTE: No. But it’s my single greatest fear.

Lev Lazinskiy's desktop

Interview conducted August 12, 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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