The Linux Setup – David R. Heffelfinger, Author/Consultant

David is the second Cinnamon user in a row! Cinnamon is traditional desktop environment and that’s something that speaks to a lot of users. I recently watched some family members struggle to find and open programs in Windows 8 and it made me appreciate—yet again—the control I have over my system. I use Xfce but it’s not hard to switch to something else, so I’m never at the mercy of my interface.

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

    I’m an independent consultant specializing in the Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) and I own a small consulting firm called Ensode Technology.

    I’m also the author of several books on Java development and related technologies. You can see my Amazon author profile here.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    When I was a CS undergrad back in the early-to-mid 90s (I’m dating myself here), introductory computer science courses were taught using PCs running DOS and networked using Novell Netware (does anybody remember that anymore?). Advanced courses were taught using Sun workstations running SunOS, a Unix variant that was popular at the time. The Unix workstations were much more powerful than the DOS PCs and students taking lower-level courses frequently suffered from “Unix envy.” Linux offered the opportunity to turn my personal DOS PC into a Unix workstation. I believe my first distro was Slackware, which I installed from a CD that came with a Linux book (this was around 1994, if I remember correctly).

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

    Currently I run Linux Mint 17, “Quiana.” I migrated to Mint from Ubuntu a couple of years ago after Ubuntu made Unity its default desktop environment. I gave Unity a fair shot, but I never got used to it. Before Ubuntu, I was using Debian Sid.

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

    I use Cinnamon because it just works, gets out of my way and lets me do my work.

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

    It is hard to pick just one. I love the Bash shell for file management; it’s so much faster and more efficient than having a graphical file manager. I also like to edit text files with Vim—not having to use the mouse for anything pretty much turbocharges your productivity. I also use NetBeans IDE for Java development, LibreOffice Writer for word processing (including all seven of my books), GIMP for image manipulation and LibreOffice Impress for presentations.

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

    My main workstation is an HP laptop, Quad Core Intel CPU, 8GB RAM, and a 750GB hard drive.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here you see two of my most frequently used applications: NetBeans IDE and LibreOffice Writer. You can get sneak preview of a book I am currently working on in the screenshot.

David R. Heffelfinger's desktop

Interview conducted September 1, 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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