Keith has a lot of great information in here. For instance, his multi-monitor i3 setup is interesting. I only have one monitor, but I often consider adding a second. Although I’m a bit claustrophobic, so I’m not sure how well that would work for me. Keith also brings up a lot of great tools for live-streaming.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Keith. I’m an aspiring software developer. Currently, I work retail in an electronics department, but my hobbies consist of programming and creating Linux-related video content.
Why do you use Linux?
Why not? I started with Windows, but then I heard of an alternative called Linux, so I tried it out.
At first, I actually hated it, but over time it grew on me, and I haven’t looked back since. I love the whole Linux ecosystem: the idea of package managers providing a secure and convenient source for software and the openness of software which allows me to actually read the source code for the programs running on my hardware.
I wasn’t into programming until I started using Linux. Linux subtly exposed me to the world of programming by offering interfaces that really gave me control over my hardware and the software running on it.
So I guess I use Linux because it inspires me.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
My gaming/workstation uses Arch Linux. My first distro was Ubuntu, but I didn’t really agree with Canonical’s direction with the desktop, so I switched to Debian, which I used for two to three years before switching to Arch. I use Arch because I find it simple and I like my main machine to stay as up-to-date as possible.
My server uses Ubuntu Server. My original choice of server distro was Debian, but after trying out Ubuntu Server, I really liked it. I preferred Ubuntu’s configuration defaults over Debian’s, and overall I feel that Ubuntu Server is easier to just drop in and start using.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I use the tiling window manager i3 on my main machine. The reason I use it is because I find it a great compromise between being functional and lightweight. I’ve used GNOME, KDE, LXDE, and Xfce. Xfce was my favorite of them all but I realized I really didn’t need a graphic-heavy desktop environment, so I started trying out lightweight alternatives and finally settled on i3. I really like how it doesn’t get in the way. I can easily switch between window layouts and navigate windows with the keyboard instead of having to constantly take my hands off the keyboard to use the mouse for window navigation.
My server doesn’t use any DE or any graphical interface; it’s purely terminal driven 🙂
What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?
That’s such a hard question to answer. Really, my daily operations require the use of such a variety of software, that it’s hard to single one out. So, I’ll just give a rundown of the ones I use the most, and why:
- OpenSSH: Being able to remotely login to my server is critical, and security is also a concern. Luckily, OpenSSH has great features like key-based authentication and SSL encryption. So OpenSSH not only let’s me remotely login to my machine, but also let’s me do so securely.
Tmux: The ability to create new instances and split terminal windows is a remarkable feature. I also love that Tmux instances run as a daemon, so if my SSH connection drops, the terminal session will remain and I can re-attach myself to that session and continue where I left off.
FFmpeg: The Swiss Army Knife of media, it’s truly an amazing accomplishment. FFmpeg is my go-to software for encoding and conversion of media files.
OBS: Open Broadcast Studio is a great piece of software for streamers, and it’s also great for offline recordings as well. It’s my go-to for recording videos.
Vim: I started using Vim two years ago and at first I didn’t understand it, but after some time I quickly understood why people love it so much. The quick keystrokes, as well as the
extensibility of Vim are great. Being able to delete an entire line by simply pressing ‘dd’ is quick and effortless.
Zeal: You can see it in the screenshot for my desktop. It’s an offline documentation browser. It’s a fantastic program. If you’ve ever heard of Dash for Mac OS, it’s basically that, but it’s available on Linux and Windows. Zeal also has some awesome IDE plugins.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
My desktop specs:
- CPU: Intel i7-4970k
- GPU: EVGA GTX 970
- PSU: Corsair CX750M
- RAM: 16GB of G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series
- Storage: 2TB Western Digital Black HDD, and a 1TB Western Digital Blue HDD
- CASE: Cooler Master HAF XB EVO.
I’m really a fan of cube cases, and I’m very happy with the HAF XB EVO. Although, to be honest, I prefer small form factor builds. I’m also a fan of conserving space.
My Server Specs:
- CPU: Intel i5-3550
- CPU Cooler: Silverstone Tek Super Slim Profile CPU Cooler
- Network Card: Intel Pro Dual Gigabit NIC
- Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD
- RAM: 16GBs of Crucial Ballistix Sport (1600MHz)
- Case: Antec ISK 300-150
- PSU: 150Watt PSU included with Antec case.
I’ve been wanting to build a dedicated server for years now, but a few months ago I finally decided it was time to do it. So I took the old i5-3550 I had, purchased the smallest case I could find off Amazon, and built one. A local computer store had a used Intel Pro NIC for $10. Before I purchased it, I verified that it was genuine and not a knockoff.
I spent a lot of time debating what I’d use for the case. Originally, I wanted to use a 1U or 2U rack, but space and noise were a concern, so I ultimately decided to go for a mini-ITX build instead.
I was very disappointed with the performance of the stock Intel CPU Cooler, so I purchased the Silverstone Tek Super Slim CPU Cooler. The Silverstone cooler was actually smaller than the stock cooler, and performed better.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
I have i3 configured in such a way that there are no borders between windows or any windows decorations. I even set the i3bar (which is usually at the top of the screen) to toggle mode and have it hidden most of the time.
I jump from programming and monitoring the servers to gaming quite often, and that’s another reason I use i3. i3 makes it so much nicer to switch between monitors; simply Mod+1 (the “Mod” key being the Windows or super key) and I’m now focused on the first monitor. Mod+2, and I’m now focused on the second. And because i3 is keyboard-driven I can move focus between windows with a simple keystroke, and not have to waste time reaching for the mouse.
Interview conducted November 30, 2016