The Linux Setup – Carlos Echenique, Photographer

I found Carlos via this Linux Journal article he wrote about using Linux for photography. There’s a lot of great information in this interview. Like I never knew what was meant by RAW with photo images. And now I do! I also appreciate that Carlos is a desktop person. I find desktops so much more comfortable than laptops. It might be a symptom of my age, but I prefer to think that my taste is becoming more refined.

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

    My name is Carlos Echenique. I am a fine art and travel photographer based out of Miami, Florida. I have been interested in photography since I was twelve-years-old, when my parents gave me their Yashica TL Electro SLR camera. I am also an IT professional with 34 years of experience.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I have been dabbling in Linux since the Slackware days. As an IT professional (and the son of aircraft mechanic), the thought of really “getting my hands dirty” with an operating system was very attractive to me. However, my day job forced me to use more mainstream operating systems and applications, so Linux was kept as a “fun” side-project for many years. Linux continued to steadily improve, as did the applications that ran on it.

    In 2017, some members of my Photography Club challenged me to put together a “low-cost portable digital darkroom.” Most of the commercial photography software had some pretty hefty hardware requirements and using Apple hardware would definitely not fall under the category of “low-cost.” So I took it upon myself to research open-source solutions to the challenge posed by my club members. The software was available and fairly mature, but the hardware was going to be an issue. That’s when I decided to go “the full Monty” and run it on a Linux machine. The lighter footprint of Linux would allow a lesser machine to perform reasonably well against a beefier (and more expensive) one running Windows. I picked up a Lenovo Flex4-14 laptop from one of the big box clubs for $499. I had a 1TB SSD drive laying about, so I replaced the spinning rust drive with that and installed Linux and various opens-source photography and graphics applications and the system works a treat. It is my travel laptop to this day.

    In fact, this worked so well that I converted my desktop system (and daily driver) to Linux.

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

    Both my desktop and laptop run KDE Neon 18.04. KDE Neon is built on a solid Ubuntu LTS base (18.04) and is rolling release for the desktop environment.

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

    KDE is my desktop environment of choice. As previously mentioned, KDE Neon gives me all the new KDE goodies as soon as KDE releases them. The current KDE desktop is very flexible and configurable.

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

    Darktable. As a photographer, I save my images in the RAW (or native) format. In order for me to create a usable image, I have to develop them from the RAW files. Think of the RAW files as digital negatives and you’ll get the idea. Darktable is the software that allows me to convert those “digital negatives” into files that are more easily readable, like JPG files. Why do I go to all of this trouble if the digital camera can already produce JPG files? Because in-camera JPG files are like Polaroid instant prints: fully processed by someone else’s standards. Darktable (and other applications) allow me to take full control of the image development process and create photographs that truly reflect my own style.

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

    Being an old-school IT person at heart, I am much more comfortable with a desktop system and relegate my laptop to travel duties. Here are my desktop specs:

    • AMD ThreadRipper 1900X 8C/16T CPU
    • 32GB RAM (4x8GB) in Quad Channel configuration
    • 1TB WD Blue nVME Drive (OS drive)
    • 4TB WD Blue 3.5″ SATA Drive (home folder)
    • 4TB RAID-10 Drive Array (via BTRFS) (photo working storage)
    • 9TB External USB3 RAID-5 Array (first stage backup)
    • Nvidia 2070 RTX Graphics Card
    • Dell U3417W Ultra-wide Curved Display
    • Logitech MX Ergo Trackball
    • Wacom Intuos4 Medium-sized Pen Tablet
    • Kono Kira 96-key Mechanical Keyboard

    I also have a 9TB OpenMediaVault NAS for backups. I use Syncthing to copy images from my external RAID-5 to the NAS. Every night the NAS uses Duplicati to back itself up to Backblaze B2 Storage. My wife’s Windows 10 machine also has a Drobo 5C that synchronizes the same way, giving me three local copies of my images.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?


Interview conducted January 7, 2019

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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