I found Kezz on Twitter and I’m so glad I did because this is a wonderful interview. First of all, I love the KDE details. Because while I don’t use KDE, I respect it. I wish I could tame it the way Kezz has. Instead, I tend to bow to its will, when really, if I knew how, like Kezz, I could bend it to mine. I also appreciate the screencasting information. I don’t do it very often anymore, but I do know that at some point, there were concerns about the lack of a good Linux screencasting program. Apparently that’s no longer an issue, which is great to hear.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Kezz Bracey. My primary profession is as a web designer/front end web developer, though in recent years I’ve been focusing on teaching. I do this via courses and tutorials I create for Tuts+, though I plan to expand on this via my own site over the coming months at http://www.kezzbracey.com.
I also like to dabble a little in game development as a hobby, as well as digital art and music production.
Why do you use Linux?
I switched over to spending more time on Linux than any other operating system after waiting a few years for the promised Mac Pro update that never came. I wanted hardware that was powerful enough for my game development (and gaming) hobbies, but I also wanted a good environment for all the command line based tools that are a big part of web development today.
MacOS could give me the development environment I wanted, but with restrictive hardware. Windows could give me the hardware I wanted, but was an unpleasant environment for command line work and web development in general. So I searched for “Alternative to MacOS” and discovered ElementaryOS, which immediately captivated me. I tried it, loved it, and started transitioning over as much of my workflow as I could. I was able to then buy the hardware I wanted and have my smooth development environment, too. Since then I’ve distro-hopped quite a bit, but I still prefer every Linux distro I’ve tried over Mac or Windows as excellent web dev environments.
That said though, as much as I love Linux for practical reasons as a development environment, I also love the ethos of community-developed systems and software. When using company-driven software I sometimes run into problems stemming from what’s good for the company not being good for me, whereas I always feel confident that the goals of the people in the Linux ecosystem essentially align with my own. And I absolutely love having control over my system so I can set everything up perfectly to be a beautiful and efficient place to work.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
At the moment my main distro is Manjaro with KDE because I really enjoy the package management and the near-bleeding-edge-but-not-quite update cycle. Of all the distros I’ve tried, Manjaro provides me with what I need the most consistently.
However I also have KDE Neon on a partition at the moment, so I can use DaVinci Resolve for video editing, as it’s quite hard to get that up and running on an Arch-based system, plus I have ElementaryOS installed as there are some really interesting apps being developed for their AppCenter and I like to check in on them.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I use KDE and it’s my single most-loved aspect of working on Linux. As a front-end web developer, I of course love to tinker with and customize user interfaces (UIs) and that is something KDE arguably allows for the best among all desktop environments. When I hit a point of friction that’s slowing my workflow down in some way, there’s always a method to modify it in KDE. I can move around KDE so smoothly and fluidly that in comparison I feel like I’m walking through mud when I have to use Windows or MacOS, or even some other Linux desktops.
A big part of why I love KDE so much is also the Dolphin file explorer. It’s absolutely perfect for what I do thanks to the in-line terminal, excellent file previewing capability, split pane, tabs system, and toolbar controls customization. When I have to use another operating system/desktop environment, I feel Dolphin’s absence quite notably.
As an extra note, I’ve also found KDE has the best support for 4k/HiDPI and handles screen recording without producing artifacts.
What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?
If I look at “depend upon” as meaning a piece of software I’d have to boot into Windows without, that would have to be the Figma design tool, despite it not technically being Linux software. The reason is that as wonderful as the coding side of development is on Linux, the graphics side is still challenging if you are in UI design. But the fact I can access Figma from my Linux install, (through the browser or the unofficial figma-linux app), allows me to spend more time booted into it than I would otherwise be able to.
However if we’re talking more specifically about Linux-native software made primarily for the Linux community, it would have to be SimpleScreenRecorder. I use it for screen recording my courses whenever I’m able to produce them on Linux, and it does a wonderful job of capturing high quality video with essentially no impact on performance. It’s a fantastic piece of software.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
My main machine is an i7 processor, RX480 GPU, 16GB RAM, with a couple of SSDs.
I also have a couple of other Linux machines, though. I have an Asus Zenbook running Arch with KDE, and a handy little Surface Go running Manjaro with KDE. And if anything with a Linux kernel counts, I also have a Moto X4 running LineageOS.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Sure thing! Here are a couple. The first is of my straight up desktop and terminal with screenfetch, the second is of my physical desktop space, including my little Go with Manjaro tablet, and the third is with the “Grid Tiling” extension running and a few of my favorite applications.
Interview conducted November 18, 2019