- Who are you, and what do you do?
Those are good questions. I am Jon “maddog” Hall, and for the past seventeen years I have been the Executive Director of Linux International. That fact and 350 USD will get you a cup of coffee at most Starbucks…..
I have also been in the computer industry since 1969 and worked on all sorts of computers including mainframes that had less than one-quarter megabyte of core memory and micros that had less than 1K bytes of semi-conductor memory. I have stored data on paper tape at the rate of 10 bytes per linear inch, and actually programmed computers for a living that could not store their own programs in memory…they were controlled by wiring a plug board. Yes, this makes me old….
Along the way I have been a programmer, systems administrator, college educator, product manager, technical marketing manager, author and trouble-maker.
Since 1977 I have been exclusively Unix or Unix-based systems, and when I met Linus Torvalds in 1994 I started promoting Linux more or less full time, and since 1999 I have been going around the world promoting Free and Open Source Software, helping companies and governments either make or save money with FOSS.
I also work with a company called Futura Networks who produces an event world-wide called Campus Party (www.campus-party.org) and I am working on a project called Project Cauã (www.projectcaua.org) that has the potential of creating millions of high-tech jobs around the world.
Finally, I do various consulting jobs for various companies.
- What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
Whatever Linux distributions my customer wants me to run.
Recently I did a job for Red Hat Software. While doing that job I ran Fedora, since most of the engineers at Red Hat run Fedora on their desktops and notebooks.
If I was going to do a job for Canonical, I would probably run Ubuntu.
For the past 17 years people have been asking me what I run on my notebook, and I tell them it does not make any difference what *I* run.
What they should be running is the best distribution for them, not me.
- What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
Again, this question is not going to have a satisfying answer for you….
I use software more by “criteria” than “name”.
First of all, I use whatever software my customer needs me to use.
Next, I do not use software just because it is “easier to use”, I tend to use software that has the greatest capabilities. I would rather spend more time learning software that has the greatest capabilities rather than be halfway through learning a new piece of software and find that it has features lacking that I really need.
Next, I look for software with a vibrant user and developer community. This is mostly to protect my customers rather than me.
- What kind of hardware do you run it on?
O.K. you asked about my main notebook…..
It is a Lenovo Thinkpad W510 with an Intel I7 chipset, 16GB of main memory, USB 3.0, 802.11n built in and a 17″ LED backlit screen. It has one TB of disk space, broken out into two 500GB disks.
I named it “Smaug” after the fire-breathing dragon of Tolkien’s Hobbit, since once it really starts up the hot-air vent sears your skin off and the fans (although quiet) blow air like there is no tomorrow.
Under light editing and/or web browsing, “Smaug sleeps”.
I bought it because I can do simulations of multiple virtual machines without slowing down the processor too much. This is part of Project Cauã, and I knew that I would be doing these simulations sooner or later on my notebook as a demonstration.
It was also the first notebook I could find that had USB 3.0 and an LED backlit screen, both of which I felt were necessary for multimedia work, which I do from time to time.
And I had been using ThinkPads for some time, enjoyed their ruggedness and the fact that most things (including the built-in webcam and fingerprint scanner) worked “out of the box.”
I tend to buy “top of the line”, but keep that for a number of years, upgrading the disk as they increase in capacity. I buy a warranty on the hardware that has come in useful from time to time…things do wear out. Lenovo’s service has been spectacular.
- What is your ideal Linux setup?
I do not do any gaming….I never got into it.
My favorite game was “Adventure” (“you are now in a maze of twisty-turny passages” and “zyzzy” for those of you who remember) played on a PDP-8 that had all of 4K 12-bit words of memory. That was in 1969.
I do admit to playing a rousing game of solitaire when I am really tired at night….
I do some multimedia work, and a few years ago set up a “multimedia desk-side computer” that cost me about four thousand dollars. Four years later you could get that same functionality for less than one thousand dollars.
In my basement I have about one-half million dollars of equipment that it would now cost me about three hundred dollars to dispose of….
At the age of sixty-one I have failing ears, failing eyesight and failing reflexes, so to invest in vastly expensive hardware for anything is probably not going to happen. A good sound card, and reasonable 3D capability is probably all I need for most of my work, and these are reasonable in price.
This is not 1969, when a single transistor often cost $1.50, and that was when $1.50 would get you into a movie AND buy popcorn!
On the other hand my software is constantly changing….
- Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
First of all, I have a lot of folders on my desktop that indicate various projects that I am doing for various companies. The names of the folders are illustrative the work I am doing for them and their privacy could be violated. When I do presentations I am careful not to show my main desktop.
Secondly, it would be boring. I do not spend much time “tailoring” my desktop, since I keep changing distributions.
I have no “favorite software” other than vim, and that is a love gained over more than a quarter century of “ed” to “ex” to “vi” to “vim”. I was using a “dot-editor” even before there were “line editors”, much less “full-screen” editors.
Before “ed” it was punched cards and paper tape.