The Linux Setup – Adam Williamson, Fedora QA

Adam’s workflow, as a quality assurance person, is fascinating (and clever). He lives across three different versions of Fedora all the time! I’m not surprised he uses GNOME. It works well stock, so it’s easy for him to keep in sync across three different versions of the same distribution. I also liked his take on very few pieces of software being essential. I’ve noticed this too, as I’ve gotten older. Either I’m getting less picky as I age, or there’s just a lot of great options for most Linux applications.

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

    I’m Adam Williamson and I work for Red Hat. I’m part of the Fedora QA team, trying to make sure Fedora releases and updates work as smoothly as possible.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    Well, it’s my job! I started around 1999 just as something fun to play with (with a copy of Mandrake 8.1 from the cover of a magazine), and just gradually worked my way along from there. Now it’s a bit like asking a fish why it lives in water…

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

    Fedora Rawhide. As a QA person I want to run as many releases as possible, so I have a system. Each time a new Fedora release comes out, I upgrade my desktop to Rawhide (which at that point in the Fedora cycle is what will become the next release). I upgrade my main laptop to the release that just came out (actually I usually do this a week or so before release), and I upgrade my second laptop to the previous release. Then they all stay on those releases until the next release comes out. So right now my desktop is on Rawhide (which will become Fedora 26), my primary laptop is on Fedora 25, and my secondary laptop is on Fedora 24.

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

    GNOME, with an almost stock configuration. I’ve run GNOME since 1.4 or so. Some people don’t like GNOME 3, but it fits into my workflow very well—I’ve been running it since 2.91 or so. I think working in QA makes you sympathetic to the general GNOME position that software is complex enough without trying to cater to every possible choice, and I appreciate the hard work the GNOME team does on pushing the boundaries in areas like Wayland integration, 3D desktop acceleration, Flatpak, and so on.

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

    I don’t actually depend on any single application; this again is a QA thing. If you’re going to run unstable software frequently, you have to be able to deal with any of your commonly-used applications suddenly not working any more! The two apps which cause me the most inconvenience if they break—because I use them all the time and I’m very used to the specific ways they work—are Evolution and Firefox. I use Thunderbird as a backup to Evolution and Epiphany as a backup to Firefox, but it’s pretty inconvenient when either one breaks.

    Actually, I suppose if git suddenly packed up and stopped working, I’d have a lot of trouble getting much done, these days.

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

    I build my own desktops. My current one has an Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard, Intel Core i7-2600K CPU, 16GB RAM, a RAID-5 array of three 128GB Samsung 840/850 Pro SSDs, and an NVIDIA GeForce 9600GT graphics card, in an Antec Sonata case (I forget which gen). Hardware geeks will notice that’s all pretty old. I used to upgrade quite frequently but there’s just very little need these days, really. I use a pair of Dell U2211H monitors in portrait orientation, side-by-side. I really like this setup with applications full-screened side by side (commonly, I have Evolution or gedit open on the left-hand monitor, and Firefox or Hexchat on the right). It’s also a slightly unusual setup, which is good for QA, because it means I find interesting bugs in X/Wayland and GNOME sometimes (and websites which assume anyone using a portrait display is using a cellphone…).

    I’m thinking of switching to a single 40″ 4K display soon, though (which is a lot like having a bank of four ~20″ 1080P displays, but all in one screen).

    My main laptop, that I just bought, is the newest model Dell XPS 13 developer edition (the Kaby Lake refresh). I’m pretty happy with it so far, and Fedora 25 runs great on it.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Sure, though there’s not a lot to see! I’ll open the overview. You’ll see my separate browser profile I keep for Google+ and Facebook. I don’t know how G+ became the default social network for F/OSS, but it seems like it did, so I keep an account there mainly to monitor Fedora chatter and help out with problems.

    The background images are from The Profound Programmer:

    You might need to censor that last one =) Will Woods introduced me to those.

Interview conducted December 1, 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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