21 May 2013

Steven Ovadia: I wiped Windows and never looked back

This man usually sits in a different seat of the interview room. Many people in the Linux world recognise him as a person who interviewed a lot of high-profile Linux advocates, prophets and journalists. But let me now put him into the interviewee's seat and introduce the man to you. Please meet: Steven Ovadia.

DarkDuck: Hello Steven, thanks for coming for an interview. Could you please introduce yourself?
Steven Ovadia: I'm Steven Ovadia. I run My Linux Rig (www.mylinuxrig.com). It's a blog about desktop Linux and how people use it. It features an interview series called The Linux Setup where I interview people about their desktop Linux setups.

DD: How did you come to the Linux world? When did it happen?
SO: I've always found both Windows and OS X kind of frustrating and I've always been interested in Linux, so while I was in graduate school, I threw an Ubuntu partition on my ThinkPad and I loved it. I needed Windows for some applications (SAS, Stata, Word, and Excel), but once I graduated, I wiped the Windows partition and went to Linux full-time. That was around five or six years ago, I guess. And I've never looked back.

DD: Why and when have you decided to go blogging about Linux?
SO: I started blogging about Linux so I wouldn't forget the things I was learning. My Linux Rig started out as a public journal about working with Xubuntu. But after a while, I felt I had mined that pretty well, so I went broader and launched My Linux Rig and the Linux Setup.

DD: Is mylinuxrig.com your only blog or online project?
SO: Right now it is. I was a hockey blogger for a long time, but it kind of burned me out, so that's on an indefinite hiatus.

DD: You have conducted lots of interviews with different people in the Linux community. Who is your most valuable guest from your point of view?
SO: This is going to sound like a cop-out, but I find them all interesting. In general, I've really enjoyed the interviews with thoughtful people who not only discuss what they use, but also talk about why they use it. Any time the conversation can get beyond tools and into processes, I think it's a very cool thing. Noah Lorang's interview generated the most traffic for me and it was also a really great interview content-wise, so I think that's a pretty nice confluence of events:

DD: Who are the most influential people in the FOSS world from your interviewees list, from your point of view?
SO: Well here is a list of everyone I've interviewed. Importance is subjective and I truly believe every Linux user is important, since we're such a small community. I think journalists might be impressed by someone like Dan Gillmor or Steven Rosenberg. Mint users probably appreciated Clem Lefebvre. CrunchBang users probably enjoyed Philip Newborough. Everyone has their own Linux associations, so I try and hit a bunch of different points. But I don't think anyone in the community is more important than anyone else.

DD: Do you usually find your "victims" yourself, or they find you?
SO: Some people reach out to me, but for the most part, I reach out to people. It's nice, because I've gotten to interview some famous Linux users. I've also been able to target some of the users who are less well-represented in the public face of Linux. Having said that, though, I love when people reach out to me. It helps me connect to Linux users who maybe don't have a huge public profile, but who are doing very interesting things. Any DarkDuck readers who want to be interviewed can contact me through this form or through Twitter (I'm @steven_ovadia)

DD: Does it include myself?
SO: Definitely! I'll email you.

DD: You ask everyone to share their Linux desktop. What’s your current desktop?
SO: I'm using OpenSUSE 12.1 and GNOME 3. I LOVE both. GNOME 3 is just so effortless to work with. And OpenSUSE is a great distro that doesn't get the love it probably should. I'm waiting on some life things to settle down before I upgrade.

DD: Can you show a screenshot?
SO: Sure!
Steven Ovadia screenshot
This is my favorite part of GNOME – the dash. I love that I can just type and stuff happens. It was tough adjusting to a lack of a desktop folder, but I can honestly say I don't miss it anymore. My Downloads folder has become my desktop. GNOME is stock. Everyone's pretty much looks the same, but it doesn't bother me. I'm not really looking to customize much anymore. That's a young man's game.

DD: What are your favourite Linux distributions, Desktop Environment, applications?
SO: I use fairly standard stuff. Chromium for browsing and tweeting (I like the Silver Bird extension a lot). I use gedit for most of my writing. I can't stand Nautilus so PCMan is my default file manager. I use Clementine for music, gpodder for podcasts, and my backup is via SpiderOak. If I have to word process or do a spreadsheet, I use LibreOffice. And I use the GIMP fairly frequently. I size images a lot for some reason. Parcellite is also very helpful for clipboard management. GNOME seems to have a very short clipboard memory. It used to be very annoying before I installed Parcellite.

DD: Do you read Linux blog from DarkDuck? What do you think about it?
SO: Of course! Everyone knows DarkDuck. I always appreciate your distro reviews.

DD: Heh, this opinion contradicts the one from many commenters, and also general opinion of me from LXer residents. They usually say that it is too high-level, or that Live reviews are pointless.
SO: Every distro runs very differently on different hardware, so I really use distro reviews to get a sense of a distro. But I understand that the review hardware is most likely very different than my own, so I'm not too particular about if a review is based off of a live CD, a virtual machine, or an actual install. I'm really using a review to decide if a distro is worth further investigation. I'm not trusting it to be the final word.

DD: Apart from running online resource, what are your interests in the real life?
SO: I'm an academic librarian, so that takes up a fair amount of mental bandwidth. When I'm not doing that, I enjoy running, playing guitar, reading, and hanging out with my wife (one day I'll convert her to Linux!).

DD: What are your future plans?
SO: I just want to keep The Linux Setup rolling. I'm adjusting the questions a bit, which I think will help to keep things fresh. I periodically think about leaving Tumblr, but the community is just really awesome and tough to leave.

DD: Thanks for coming, Steven! Hope you see you again one day!
SO: Thanks for having me!


  1. Yes Steven, I can certainly relate to taking M$ Windows off the computer and just using linux. Two months ago I did the same thing and, like you, I don't miss Windows. For someone like me this was a HUGE step as my knowledge of linux isn't all that strong, certainly nowhere near the level I'm at with Windows. But for the past several years my love for M$ operating systems has been steadily waning, so much so that when Windows 8 came out with that awful GUI it was the straw that broke this camel's back. Actually there are many reasons for parting ways with M$ but, simply put, my vision for using a personal computer is divergent from M$'s vision. I've been using Linux Mint 14 KDE 64 bit since its release around Christmas and find it to be fast, secure, feature rich, rock stable and easy to use. Also, maintaining the system takes much less time and effort.
    Yes I'm a linux proselyte. While I don't actively try to convert Microsoft or Apple users I do take the time to show anyone who is curious about lunux all that it has to offer. In the computer world I look at linux as a gem in the rough, something of value with a special beauty not yet realized.

  2. You need to jump ship from GIMP and give Krita 2.6 a try!

  3. Ubuntu 12.10 with Gnome 3 here. I got rid of Windows too. I got tired of all its arrogant users :). But, honestly, I love the design of Linux and the openness. I love that I never have to update antivirus software and worry about spyware all the time. I love the speed of getting work done. Welcome to the Linux world, to the new user who posted above.

    1. Thanks Rob for the welcome. Yes, isn't it sweet not having to spend bucks on system security and not having to run antivirus software in that never-ending battle to keep malware off your Windows machine. Equally nice are the nonintrusive firewalls that you have in linux that run quietly in the background. They don't pester you with warnings all the time as is often the case with firewalls designed for Windows. Not having to defrag is also nice. The list of linux advantages goes on and on and......
      You say that M$ users are arrogant. Yes, some are, but far more are just plain ignorant. For me the one that seems most arrogant is M$. Their act: We are Microsoft, here is our product, you will buy it, use it and like it. It doesn't matter if the product isn't needed, is grossly overpriced, or badly designed because they know they're the biggest game in town and people will buy it anyway. They rely on user ignorance and apathy to perpetuate their game. Should they make a mistake and produce a dud they have the money to weather the storm. I hate the way they attempt to jam their, products, policies, and philosophy down peoples' throats. It's enough to make me gag. Thankfully there was a viable alternative to Windows for me. Linux has been my savior. Long live open source! software!

  4. One would have thought that we Linux/FOSS users have got past the name calling and derogortory remarks about Microsoft and sought out a more cooporative relationship. I have used Linux as my OS since 2004 and have sought to educate family and friends about the benefits of my OS of choice without demeaning their use of proprietry operating systems. Remember in the majority of cases computer users do not realise they habe a choice and it is up to us to gently guide them to Linux, and once there, support them.

  5. I did the same years back.

    The other day I installed Vista into a virtual image to use for testing in web-development, and talk about a pain to install. Took day and half to install, patch, and phone for serial validation.

  6. Yes, I also love Linux and have been using it for more than a decade now - on everything from internet server to laptop. I am an old IBM-Systems Engineer and have always loved to work with what is "under the hood". The last Windows OS I have is W$-Vista (in addition to Mint) on my laptop. Why? Well, things like a PC-version of my local banking software don't NOT run on Linux (nor does it on Mac!). To me one of the major reasons why some software houses don't support Linux is the fragmentation of its desktop user interfaces (I LOVE KDE!). Why competition among GNOME, KDE, etc., etc., may be good for technological advance, it seems to prevent "critical mass". I use W$ for scanning.