The Linux Setup – Peter Green, System Administrator

I like Peter’s story because Linux led to job opportunities. Now of course, there are many, many reasons to use Linux other than career prospects, but the fact that there’s a practical benefit to using Linux shouldn’t be overlooked. I also totally get what Peter says about GNOME 3 being a bit laggy on older hardware. I just put it on my old, old ThinkPad and it’s disappointingly slow. It works great and it’s a great desktop environment, but my hardware doesn’t do it justice.

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

    My name is Peter Green. I’m a freelance System Administrator, Integrations Engineer/Specialist, DevOps practitioner…essentially the primary focus of my career has been using open source tools to build and maintain environments for developing and hosting web applications. Over the last five years I’ve been working with cloud solutions providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), to build robust and scalable hosting platforms for clients.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I’ve used Linux as my primary OS ever since my Windows install contracted a virus (well, a worm actually) from my university’s campus network back in 2000. I decided I would need something a little more robust to work on and I’d used SuSE Linux in the Computer Science labs, so making the switch wasn’t difficult. When I finally finished university, I found that my Linux knowledge really helped when looking for jobs and so I continued to use the OS on any machine I was issued. I have found that running the same (or similar) operating system as the servers/environments I’m responsible for really helps me in my work.

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

    My distribution of choice is Fedora; most of my initial career was spent working with Red Hat and/or CentOS, so I opted to go with the more cutting-edge version of those distros for my desktop. Nowadays I use a lot more Debian-based servers, but I still use Fedora on my laptop and desktop!

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

    My laptop currently runs the Cinnamon desktop environment, running on LightDM. I made this choice because I found GNOME 3 a big “laggy” for use on my laptop. On my desktop workstation, I’ve actually been experimenting with the i3 desktop for several months now. This decision was also made because GNOME 3 (and GDM) seemed to consume a great deal of memory, but I also wanted to try something completely different!

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

    If I had to pick one, it would probably be Vim; I keep finding out new features and tricks even after years of using it! Not only that, but you can be pretty certain that Vim (or at least Vi) is on any Unix box you’ll log into, so it’s invaluable as a sysadmin. Some other tools worth mentioning are: Git, Vagrant (plus VirtualBox) and the AWS CLI.

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

    OK, so my primary work machine is my MacBook Pro. It goes with me wherever I need to work. It’s an older model (6.2, from mid-2010) running off a Core i5 M540 (2.53GHz), but I upgraded it myself to 8GB of memory and very recently replaced the mechanical HDD with a 512GB Corsair MX100 SSD. I do have a secondary machine in my home office (mentioned above) that is based on an AMD Phenom II 550, that has not only been overclocked to 3.4GHz, but had a third core unlocked via the BIOS on the Asus M4A77TD Pro motherboard. It only has 4GB of memory however, which is its primary bottleneck (again, see my answer about desktop environments above). Once some much-needed home improvements have been carried out, I will be relocating my gaming PC to the office to double as my workstation. This is a bit more of a beast, with an Intel Core i5-4670K and 16GB of memory.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Here is a screen capture of my laptop’s desktop.

Peter Green's desktop

Interview conducted September 23, 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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