The Linux Setup – Jens Reuterberg, Illustrator and Graphic/UX Designer

Jens loves Krita, the digital painting program. In fact, it seems to be what drew him into Linux and what’s kept him here. He’s a designer who’s part of the KDE Visual Design Group and interestingly, he’s a big fan of desktop-hopping as a way to shake up your brain a little bit. I’m all in favor of that because there are lots of different tricks and workflows to be found in other desktops, distros, and operating systems. Sometimes the pain of learning something new makes our existing processes easier.

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

    My name is Jens Reuterberg. I’m an illustrator and graphic/UX designer from Sweden working for Blue Systems on a vast array of projects from Plasma Desktop to Netrunner and more.

    I started the KDE Visual Design Group as a way to “open source” design and create a more open inclusive form of design work and now I spend most of my days trying to catch up to all the amazing work done by the VDG community. Since my background is in illustration and print design my main interest is in the way we treat computer interfaces as something entirely different from the rest of visual design, which causes a lot of issues. I’d love to work more on bringing computer interfaces into the fold of proper design rules.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    My Windows install crashed. Not just crashed—it crashed, burned and took a few days of work with it, screaming insults at passersby as it left. So trying to reinstall Windows was a massive bit of work and I thought “wasn’t there another thing called Linux?” From there, I had the pleasure of using Krita, the number one piece of illustration software made so far, and talking to the Krita devs (Boudewijn, for example). I fell in love and I never looked back.

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

    Netrunner Rolling, which is Netrunner based on Manjaro. I use it on both my laptop and stationary computer.

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

    I use Plasma, or more precisely the Netrunner version of Plasma. My main reason for that is, of course, that I work with it but also because I am incredibly fond of certain features available for Plasma (like KDE Connect).

    I am a desktop heretic though, and tend to swap around to GNOME, Pantheon, Unity and Openbox from time to time to help my brain along. I really think that we should all do that no matter what DE we design—try something different, find out what you love about it and what you hate about it and work from there with what you have.

    Also, I don’t subscribe to the KDE vs GTK vs Unity vs whatever wars. I came in too late for that and to be honest, I have too much personal respect for the people who work on these desktop environments, people like Allan Day, Andreas Nilsson, Fabiana Simoes and Daniel Foré to ever consider them less than inspirational and brilliant.

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

    Krita. Without a doubt. Now since starting work for Blue Systems I haven’t had time to do as much illustration work as I’d prefer but it is one of the prime examples of what open source can do when we allow ourselves to have focus and set a goal and stick to it.

    It’s made for illustrators and artists and I can sit in it from first sketch to finished, shipped product. There is no program like it. Other than that, I tend to sit in GIMP, Inkscape, Karbon and Scribus. All brilliant applications and whenever someone says “Oh I can’t use them because their not good enough,” my first assumption tends to be “Oh, so you’re not very good at what you do” (which is unfair—a lot of people need the proprietary alternatives for work or learned them in school. Adobe is spending insane amounts of money marketing their products to schools—but there you go).

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

    Oy. I have a fidgety Asus UX32VD laptop with the hard drive replaced with an SSD. I’d love to replace the Asus one day, but I’m cheap like that. When it dies it dies; until then I use it. Sadly, it has a matte screen which is awful for graphics work but I can deal with it for now.

    Aside from that, I have a Frankenstein’s monster of a stationary computer my husband helped me put together which has a swath of lovely hardware (although I can’t remember much of it now). There is an SSD, an Intel Processor (i5, I think) and a good Nvidia Graphics card.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure! It’s of the laptop since I’m on vacation (wedding anniversary! Three years and neither me or my husband has tried killing each other, knock-on-wood).

Jens Reuterberg's desktop

Interview conducted August 14, 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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