The Linux Setup: Joe Ressington, Late Night Linux Podcast

Joe shares a lot of interesting thoughts during this interview. For instance, he makes the case that his phone is his main computer. That’s something I hear from a fair number of people. I’m someone who hates to use his phone, though. Like I’ll turn on my computer to send an email, rather than use my phone. But perhaps that’s generational. Joe also talks about coming to Linux because of Windows XP. I wonder how many people discovered Linux because they were stuck running XP on not-so-great hardware.

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

    I’m Joe Ressington. I host and produce a podcast called Late Night Linux. I used to host Linux Luddites until it ended at the end of 2016.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I first started using desktop Linux around ten years ago because I was fed up with Windows, and Macs were too expensive. I had been on a constant quest to slim down Windows XP to a point where it would run well on my P4 desktop machine and although I had succeeded (using nLite), it had come at the cost of security. Once I started experimenting with Linux I found that it was as faster than Windows could be, while remaining secure.

    In more recent years I have come to value software freedom but in all honesty that is just a nice bonus on top of the pragmatic reasons that led me to Linux in the first place.

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

    This is the part where I should tell you that I use Xubuntu 14.04 on my main laptop and desktop machines. If you had asked what I use on my main computer, I would have told you that I am running Cyanogenmod 13 on my Oneplus One. It was the last snapshot release before Cyanogenmod died, and I haven’t found the time to install Lineage OS yet.

    It might sound odd that I consider my phone to be my main computer but it’s the truth. I use it far more often than any of my X86 machines.

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

    When I was making the switch over to Linux, I started with Ubuntu, which was using GNOME 2. I wanted to squeeze every bit of performance out of my P4 box and so I tried some lighter desktops. I settled on Xfce, as I found it to be a nice compromise between weight and features. I have tried numerous other desktop environments and window managers since then but I always find myself coming back to Xfce for the very reasons that I started using it.

    I use the original ADW 1 launcher on my phone because I can can completely customize it.

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

    Audacity. It’s horrendously ugly and tends to crash quite a lot but it would be hard to record podcasts without it. I know there are plenty of other free and open source audio recorders but no matter who I am recording with, Audacity is likely to be available to them. Having one standard program makes things very easy.

    My most frequently used Android app is probably Antennapod. It’s the best FOSS podcatcher app I’ve ever tried.

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

    My main machine is an Asus X53E laptop. It’s fairly modest by modern standards. It has a 2nd generation i5 (2430M) with 4GB RAM. My desktop is even more modest with a first generation i3 (540) and 4GB RAM. The thing about Xubuntu is that you really don’t need to throw a lot of hardware at it to have a very smooth computing experience. In the last few years I have completely switched over to SSDs for my OS partitions and at this point I don’t feel like I could go back to spinning drives.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Attached are screenshots from my main laptop and my phone. As you can see, my laptop’s desktop is very messy. I’ve blurred out the contents because I don’t have time to go through everything and work out what’s private. My minimalist phone home screen is probably more interesting.

Interview conducted January 30, 2017


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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