The Linux Setup – Charles McColm, Author

Charles and I have the same reasons for using Linux. He says it’s easier than Windows and OS X which is something a lot of people have a hard time believing. But Linux systems upgrade easily and in general, get up and running much quicker than Windows ones. And while I understand a lot of people love OS X, the interface just doesn’t make sense to me. Linux is easy and simple.

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

    I’m Charles McColm, husband, wicked step-father and old-school computer nerd. I was one of the Commodore 64 generation kids. Games like Oubliette, Temple of Apashai, and Jumpman got me interested in computers but dialing bulletin board systems and entering ML/assembly language code from COMPUTE!’s Gazette really hooked me.

    I’ve always been interested in the learning process around computers which extended to systems I didn’t know about (couldn’t afford). I started buying old hardware from eBay and local surplus sales and ended up with a number of Sun and Silicon Graphics computers. This interest along with my interest in Linux led me to the work I’ve been doing the past 10 years: project manager for a not-for-profit computer refurbishing project. It’s a wonderful way to share experience.

    I also write the Linux Labs column for Full Circle magazine (I’ve been absent the past couple of months) and I’m the author of the Packt Publishing book Instant XBMC.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux because I find it easier to use than Windows or Mac OS X. This might seem opposite from conventional arguments, but I think it’s especially true once you have a bit of experience with Linux. Being able to apt-get dist-upgrade all your software at once is a whole lot easier than repeatedly running Windows updates. On the Apple side of things, Apple tends to like to do things in a particular way. If you don’t do it the Apple way things can be tough. I like the choice and flexibility of Linux. If I don’t like GNOME, I can use KDE, Xfce, or another window manager.

    I also value the fact that Linux culture is more open to sharing. I can share my software, processes and experiences with everyone—not just those who can afford it.

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

    I run Xubuntu on my home and work desktops as well as on my notebook. I have a second desktop system at home that runs XBMCBuntu (now Kodibuntu), a Kodi/XBMC Linux distribution.

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

    I switched to Xfce around the time Ubuntu switched to Unity. Unity was neat on my netbook, but I wasn’t as fond of it on the desktop. Xfce closely mirrors what Windows users are used to on a desktop (and can be configured to look a lot like Windows or Mac OS X). I like Xfce because it is so configurable. Unity has become more configurable, but it still isn’t flexible enough and tends not to work well on a lot of the older hardware we work with.

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

    Apache. It runs my web servers. We tend to think of desktop software and there’s a lot I depend on: Firefox, GIMP, Inkscape, LibreOffice, to name a few, but Apache has helped everyone grow. Is there anyone on the Internet who hasn’t indirectly used Apache?

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

    My desktop at home is an AMD A8-5600K 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor on a Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard. I have 16GB of G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB DDR3-1866 in two of the four RAM sockets. I currently have a 250GB Seagate hard drive inside with Xubuntu 14.04 installed. This is all in an Antec Three Hundred Two ATX Mid Tower Case. The case it quiet and doesn’t seem to collect dust as rapidly as some of the other cases I’ve had in the past.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Charles McColm's desktop

Interview conducted March 31, 2015


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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