The Linux Setup – Mohammad Ikhsan, System Administrator

Mohammad is a SysAdmin and like a lot of us, he’s still refining his desktop workflow. He uses GNOME and calls its extensions architecture clever–which it is. It’s a simple way to change your desktop. Plus, it allows the GNOME development team to design an interface with a cohesive vision, while also allowing the user to create their own experience. It’s super clever.

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

    I am Mohammad Ikhsan. I’m a SysAdmin/developer for a financial service company in Indonesia. I manage data center infrastructures such as servers and SAN storage which run on RHEL, CentOS, AIX, and Windows. At home I dabble with desktop Linux desktop and Linux gaming. I log my discoveries at https://outhereinthefield.wordpress.com. It’s mainly about challenges that I find while using Linux as my daily driver and gaming rig, as well as work-related problems.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    My first taste of Linux was way back when I was in college. We were revitalizing our computer lab and decided to use LTSP so we could save some money by not buying hard drives and Microsoft Windows licenses. Back then, software piracy was rampant in Indonesia and you could find pirated applications and games for Microsoft Windows being sold in broad daylight in big shopping malls in Jakarta. I wanted to escape that, so I decided to switch to Linux, and at the time, sacrifice my gaming hobby. Fortunately, my first steady job was at small ISP and I was tasked to build and maintain DNS servers, Internet gateways with HTB, as well as a multi-domain QMail server, so all I needed on my workstation was a terminal and a browser. My distro of choice back then was Mandrake, and I’ve been hooked on Linux ever since.

    At home, I find using Linux as a daily driver much more comfortable than using Windows. I don’t have to deal with antivirus or anti-malware. I can get applications from trusted sources instead of scouring the internet for adware from questionable websites. Most of the problem that I find when using desktop Linux comes from hardware compatibility. You can eliminate or minimize a lot of these if you do your research and shopping properly, though. For example, if you want to buy wireless headphones, go for the one with 3.5mm stereo jack or Bluetooth instead of USB. Looking for a set of surround-sound speakers? Look for the model with analog input instead of optical.

    And finally, with the improved DirectX 10 support on WINE as well as the emergence of Steam on Linux, I can finally go back to gaming on my workstation!

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

    I’ve been using Ubuntu as my main workstation OS since 2005, and as of now, I’m using 14.04. For me, Ubuntu LTS releases manage to hit the sweet spot of being bleeding edge, supporting a large pool of old and new hardware, making it perfectly usable as desktop distro, while also being stable enough to use as a server OS. I have several instances of other distros, such as eOS and CentOS, running on VirtualBox for various reasons. I also have a small netbook running Xubuntu 14.04 that’s being repurposed as a DNSCrypt and cloud sync server.

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

    I’m using GNOME Shell 3.12. I think it’s aesthetically pleasant and doesn’t get in the way of me doing stuff. The extensions provide excellent usability. As an example, there’s an extension that adds a menu on the top bar that allows me to switch between audio output and input devices easily. It’s very clever.

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

    Obviously terminal and text editor. Aside from that, I use VirtualBox to host several development instances, as well as a Windows VM, since I have a Microsoft Azure account as a part of my company MSDN subscription. Until I can run PowerShell on Linux, I have to have a Windows VM.

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

    My current workstation is a Lenovo Ideapad Y510p, with a Intel Core i7 4700mq, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GT750, a 240GB SSD for OS and applications, and a 1TB spinning disk for data. It came with a BroadCom WiFi and Bluetooth combo adapter, which is not fully Linux compatible, so I had them replaced with an Intel 6235 adapter. Additionally, I have a Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro USB connected to a Razer Chimaera 2.1 wireless headset and Logitech Z506 surround speakers, a Corsair K70 mechanical keyboard, and a Logitech M950 MX Performance hooked through USB, and a PS4 DualShock 4 game pad for my Street Fighter IV on Steam/WINE session.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Definitely!

Mohammad Ikhsan's desktop

Interview conducted September 27, 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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