Niko likes GNOME because it stays out of his way. That’s a common thing I hear about GNOME. It’s interesting how, for many people, a good desktop environment is one that doesn’t read as one. People want to work—they’re not always interested in interacting with the interface. I know for me, I just want to get to work as quickly as possible so I’m grateful to anything that helps to make that happen.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Niko Rosvall. I live in Tampere, Finland and I’m currently studying software development at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.
I’ve been programming for years. Currently, I’m maintaining several open source programs and one which will be released quite soon. I’m mostly interested in low-level C programming and actually started
learning Linux kernel programming some time ago.
I’m also interested in porting existing Windows software to Linux. There’s truck-loads of important applications for Windows which don’t have a replacement on Linux (mostly scientific programs). I think there is a need for this kind of work. Maybe I should start a small consulting business around this idea. I have the experience, motivation and skills, so why not?
Why do you use Linux?
I have a lot of reasons why I use Linux, but if I have to name one it’s probably the fact that programming (especially C) is so much more fun on Linux. The tools are better, and many of the tools I’m using won’t even work on Windows very well.
Linux is flexible, open source and generally the only sane operating system to use (in my opinion).
Besides all the technical things there is also the ethical side, as well as security.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I run Arch Linux x64.
I think it was around 2002 when I first installed Linux. I think it was SUSE. Since then I’ve used Gentoo, Slackware, Debian, Ubuntu, and probably some others I don’t even remember. I also built my own distribution back in 2006, just for my own use. It was based on Slackware.
I don’t distro-hop anymore. I’m happy with Arch Linux. It’s great.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I’m using GNOME 3—whatever version happens to be in the Arch Linux repositories. I believe that at the moment it’s 3.12. I don’t care too much about desktop environments. I like how GNOME 3 looks and it stays out of my way, so I’m happy with it.
What one piece of software do you depend upon with this distribution? Why is it so important?
I can’t really name only one. But to name several…I’m a heavy Emacs user. I write code in it, I write my emails in it, and so on. I also depend on Git, GCC, Mutt, Firefox, Fetchmail, Procmail and GNOME Terminal. rsync is a great tool for backups; I use it all the time.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
I have a pretty nice desktop machine with 8GB of memory, 128GB SSD drive, two 320GB drives and Intel i3 CPU. I also have Lenovo Ideapad s205 laptop with 8GB of memory and 320GB hard drive.
One of my projects is Windows-only (that will change). I develop it on a Windows virtual machine using VirtualBox.
I have two smartphones, one Android and one Windows. To be honest, I don’t really care about smartphones or tablets. I don’t like to write code for them and I think I’m only using them because of Whatsapp. I would be interested in developing applications for smartphones if I could use C or C++. Python would be OK too. This used to be the case back in the day when the Nokia N900 was alive and well.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Sure. It’s pretty basic GNOME 3, with some terminal windows, Emacs and Firefox running.
Interview conducted October 6, 2014