The Linux Setup – Cassidy James Blaede, elementary OS/System76

Cassidy works for elementary OS AND System76, so he’s what those of us in the business call a double threat. I haven’t spent much time with elementary, so it’s nice to hear about someone using it for so much day-to-day work. It’s also nice to hear how good System76’s hardware is. It’s an important reminder for people looking to have Linux easily installed while also supporting the Linux economy.

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

    I’m Cassidy James Blaede, co-founder of elementary (as in elementary OS), user experience architect, and front-end developer at System76. I also enjoy playing Destiny, Battlefront, and Minecraft when I have time, and collecting/building Lego Star Wars sets.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Technically, I use Linux because it happens to be a low-level component of both elementary OS on my computers and Android on my mobile devices. 😉 But I am a huge fan and proponent of Linux—and more broadly, open source—because I believe in using my devices to make things, and that is much easier and more culturally accepted with open source. Furthermore, I love enabling others to make things by helping to create a platform on which to build (elementary OS) and the devices with which to do it (System76). On a practical note, I help develop elementary OS and we’re huge about dogfooding—that is, using the thing you’re building day-to-day as you’d expect a user to. And of course System76 is run primarily on open source software, and my web development workflow is actually a lot more streamlined on Linux than it would be on other platforms.

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

    I run elementary OS, of course! I will typically stick to the latest stable release (so 0.3.2 Freya right now) until I can’t bear to wait to play with the new and shiny beta releases. I also have an Ubuntu install sitting around for screenshots on the System76 website.

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

    We develop Pantheon for elementary OS, so I use that. It consists of Gala (the Mutter-based WM), WingPanel (top panel), Plank (bottom dock), Slingshot (app launcher), and all the apps. I’m continuously impressed with and in love with what we make, so it works well for me! I really love how simple it is and how easily accessible everything is both visually and with the keyboard. It keeps me efficient, but also means someone else isn’t completely lost if they need to use my computer.

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

    This one is tough. I use a ton of software every day: Midori, Pantheon Files, Inkscape, Chrome, Firefox, Pantheon Terminal, GIMP, Scratch, Atom, etc. But the one I depend on is Git. I use Git (and GitHub) to log every single line of code I write for work, elementary, and personal projects. If anything were to happen to my laptop, I know I have all my work safely stored elsewhere. Plus it makes collaborative development (a critical part of both work and elementary projects) super easy. I think Git and services like GitHub have huge potential in enabling others to create new software and do incredible things.

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

    System76 machines, of course! I have a Meerkat connected to a 27″ 1440p ViewSonic display at work, and then my personal Galago UltraPro for work, play, and elementary. My wife and I actually just put in an order for an i7 Meerkat at home as well, and that will connect to a gorgeous 27″ 1440p Dell UltraSharp display that we have been using for our laptops. I love my 27″ displays for at a desk and my 14″ for on the go.

    The Meerkat has impressed me as a desktop computer; I was skeptical that it would be powerful enough for everyday use at work, but have fallen in love with it. It flies with elementary OS and an SSD. And my Galago was actually purchased before I was hired by System76. I chose it for its rocking performance in a smaller form factor, and it’s absolutely the best laptop I’ve ever owned.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Absolutely! Here’s a slightly more staged one with some apps open.

Cassidy James Blaede's desktop

Interview conducted January 3, 2016

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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