The Linux Setup – Elio Qoshi, Ura

You probably remember Elio from last week’s interview. Now that we know his design philosophy, we get to see the tools he uses to implement it! Interestingly, he cites Thunderbird as his most important piece of software. Like me, he loves it. Anyone who does a lot of email work loves Thunderbird. It’s fast and very easy to personalize. Elio also asked me to make sure everyone understands how important the Open Source Design group is to his work as an open source designer.

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

    I’m Elio Qoshi, a designer, author, and free software/open source activist based in Tirana, Albania. I write tech articles for and design brand identities for a living, while still pursuing my university studies in Multimedia Design.

    However, I spend most of my free time contributing to free & open source projects, most notably Mozilla, Fedora, LibreOffice, Wikipedia, GalliumOS, Glucosio and many more which would take too long to list here. I have been part of Open Labs, the local hackerspace in Tirana, since early 2013. It serves as a meeting point for all FLOSS enthusiasts around here.

    As part of Open Labs I have been a co-organizer of the annual Open Source Conference Albania (OSCAL) since 2014. As part of, I recently launched my own startup, Ura, which aims to help open source projects with design.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I joined the free software community in Albania right after Aaron Swartz’s death and before the Snowden revelations, so I was “lucky” to have been in the middle of a mindset shift in terms of the importance of free knowledge, privacy and control in our lives. As the Free Software Foundation Europe says so well, there cannot be a Free Society without Free Software. There is not a single reason why any public institution should use proprietary software. Coming to this conclusion, I wanted to avoid being a hypocrite, so I finally switched to Fedora.

    I also aim to show, by example, that good designers can use Linux too. However, as an avid gamer and a graphic design professional, it’s really really hard to give up on Windows. The switching process is very slow, but it’s effective if you see it like a workout; you just need to do little tweaks incrementally, instead of a complete overhaul overnight.

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

    I use Fedora 23. As a Fedora Ambassador I could hardly use anything else!

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

    I use GNOME 3 as my desktop environment. Fedora is tailored to GNOME, so using any other desktop environment with Fedora doesn’t deliver the same experience. Fedora Spins offers alternative desktop environments, such as KDE, but the majority of Fedora users stick with GNOME. Beyond that, I really like the simplicity of GNOME and how it breaks out of traditional desktop user experience assumptions to bend the rules, so to speak.

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

    Definitely Thunderbird. I am slowly moving away from Gmail and use my custom email addresses via IMAP on Thunderbird (and K9-Mail on my Android). It syncs really well and has great integration with ownCloud Calendar and Contacts (I was so relieved to switch from Google Calendar to ownCloud Calendar via CalDav). I really despise how people turned away from desktop email clients because web clients seem to be more comfortable. I find it more productive having all my email in one place, so Thunderbird is the way to go for me.

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

    I own an HP EliteBook 8470w Workstation with an Intel Core i7 (3rd Gen) 3610QM/2.3 GHz Quad Core processor, 8GBRAM, 500GB HDD and AMD FirePro M2000 – 1 GB GDDR5 SDRAM graphics. You can find the specs here.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

Elio Qoshi's desktop

Interview conducted May 31, 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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