I found Yorick through the amazing Lobsters thread asking what software people use daily. I’m glad I reached out to Yorick for a few reasons. One is the love for Cinnamon. I use it on my older Linux Mint laptop and it’s a great environment (although I wish it had better built-in file searching). Another is the focus on the hardware. There’s a lot of great ergonomic details in here. And finally, I appreciate his enthusiasm for BSD. I’m not there yet either, but like Yorick, perhaps some day.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Yorick Peterse. I am a staff software engineer at GitLab, which is basically one level above a senior engineer. For the first few years at GitLab I focused on improving performance, but these days I focus on making it easier to ship code and release new versions of GitLab.
Outside of the work I do for GitLab, I work on a programming language called Inko. In the past I worked on a variety of mostly Ruby-based free software projects, such as Rubinius, Pry, and Oga, an XML/HTML parser for Ruby that I created a few years ago.
I also contributed to various other projects over the years, though most of these contributions were either small code changes, or bug reports.
- Why do you use Linux?
I have been using Linux for over 15 years now, though for a while my main system of choice was a MacBook. I like and use Linux for the usual reasons: it’s free software, supports a wide array of devices, etc. I learned about Linux in the early 2000s when I was a teenager. We didn’t have a lot of money, and the computers we had were a bit dated at the time, and not really capable of running recent versions of Windows. Linux on the other hand ran just fine. I think one of the first versions of Linux I used was some old version of SUSE, followed by an early version of Ubuntu. After that I used a MacBook for a while, before switching to using Linux as my daily driver.
I would like to one day be able to use BSD, as from the outside they seem a bit better designed and built compared to Linux. Dragonfly BSD in particular looks really interesting. Sadly, even FreeBSD (probably the most popular BSD today, if you exclude macOS) still has issues with certain setups. WiFi support in particular is a bit of a hit or miss, from what I found. While it gets better every day, I think the BSDs are still 5-10 years behind Linux when it comes to support and ease of use.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I use Arch Linux on both my laptop and desktop. I think I have been using Arch for about seven years now. Arch Linux gives you a reasonable amount of flexibility, but without making it difficult to get a system up and running. With that said, I don’t feel very strongly about the choice of distribution; I just use whatever works best for me.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I currently use Cinnamon, and before that I used Xfce for many years. I moved away from Xfce because at the time it did not support HiDPI displays. It was also a bit clunky here and there. I like Cinnamon because it’s more lightweight compared to GNOME and KDE, while still offering the features that I need.
I have played with Plasma, Sway, and a few other desktop environments over the years, but I keep coming back to Cinnamon.
What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?
(Neo)Vim. I have been a Vim user for 10 years now, and I can not live without it. Besides using it to write code, I also use it for composing emails, taking notes, and managing my personal Wiki; basically anything that involves working with text. I suppose that after all these years I still have not learned how to exit Vim 😉
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
I have two computers running Linux: a Thinkpad X1 Carbon 3rd generation, and a desktop computer. The desktop comes with an AMD Ryzen 1600X, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and 250GB SSD storage. The disk is encrypted using LUKS. For the GPU I use a cheap Radeon RX 550.
My keyboard is an Ergodox Ez, using a modified version of the Colemak layout. Before that I was using a HHKB Pro 2. I switched to the Ergodox as regular keyboards give me serious wrist pain after about an hour or so of use. Learning both a new keyboard and layout has so far taken several months, but it was definitely worth the trouble. For the laptop I just use the built-in QWERTY keyboard, as there is no nice way of getting my custom layout to work on it.
My mouse is a Logitech MX Ergo trackball. I have used regular mice, vertical mice, and various trackballs over the years. The MR Ergo is so far the best mouse I have used. I tried some of the big trackballs, but they push my wrist in an awkward position; causing serious pain after only a few hours of use.
Both computers run the same software. I mostly use my desktop, only using the laptop when I am traveling, or just don’t feel like sitting behind a desk in the evening.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Yes! It is attached. I have also included a photo of my physical desktop environment.
Interview conducted September 25, 2019