I know Marcel from his Linux Journal column, so it’s awesome to get to hear how he rolls, Linux-wise. One of the things I love about his writing (you should follow him on Twitter) is his love of Linux always shines through. It’s not stident. It’s joyful. And you see the joy here.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Marcel Gagné. I’m just this guy, you know? I’m a science and technology geek, ruggedly handsome, and the guy behind the (in)famous “Cooking With Linux” that began in the Linux Journal. I’ve written for Linux Magazine, LinuxPro, SysAdmin, and several others. I’ve also written six books covering Linux and Open Source software (under the Addison Wesley imprint), promoted Linux and FOSS on television (“Call for Help”), and on radio (“Computer America”), and on YouTube (search freethinkeratlarge). I’m an occasional public speaker on matters tech and free, an occasional teacher on same, and a general (and hopefully, occasionally amusing) nuisance on the Internet.
Why do you use Linux?
If it was just a question of technological superiority, I would still be running Linux, but it goes much further than that. Linux and free software embody everything I believe in when it comes to technology, namely that people working in an entirely open environment, using open standards, open communication, open development, and open everything, can create wonderful and amazing things. The connected world we live in today, with its social networks, one-day shipping, non-stop streaming video, on-demand music, artificially intelligent agents, smartphones, search engines that deliver the sum total of human knowledge to anyone with an Internet connection, and…all of those things are the products of the open source philosophy. Even those closed source companies that love to talk about their amazing products created in opaque labs, like the Microsofts and Apples of the world, even they owe their existence and success, in no small part, to open source.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
My, this is a tough one to answer. I switch from one Linux distribution to another the way other people cycle their under—well, you know what I mean. And I’m talking about my day-to-day working desktop system. This year alone, I’ve been using NetRunner, Fedora, Kubuntu, and as I write this, Manjaro (17.1 development release).
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
The one I keep coming back to is KDE Plasma. It’s elegant, beautiful, customizable, and everything a modern desktop environment should be. I say “coming back to” because I probably spend 25% of my time in different desktop environments, including GNOME (I like GNOME 3 specifically), Cinnamon, LXDE, and a few others. I have what is probably an unhealthy and entirely nostalgic fondness for WindowMaker.
What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?
Can I put in a joke here about how it’s the kernel because without it, my system wouldn’t boot? No? All right then, you force me to name a few. There isn’t a day that I don’t use my Chrome browser, so in the Internet age, that’s a staple no matter what operating system you are running. There’s also never a time that I don’t have at least one Konsole terminal window open or a word processor on the go. However, I also run OBS Studio most days, as well as Kdenlive, Zimbra for email, and Firefox.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
I’ll pretend you mean my everyday system as opposed to the other computers scattered around the house (yes, they all run Linux). My current notebook is an ACER ES-774G with an Intel Core i5 turbo processor (2.8 GHz), 12GB RAM, a 17-inch LED display, and an NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card with 2GB dedicated VRAM. The 1 terabyte drive that came with it crashed. This was kind of a good thing because I replaced it with a 250GB SSD drive that is just screaming fast. I’ve never been so happy to have a hard disk crash.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted November 7, 2017