How I Use Linux

Linux based operating systems are a staple of my daily routine. I use Windows only during employment contracts. I have not used Windows at home for production in many years.

I wondered what I actually do with my computers. I seldom pay attention to the apps I use.

I scrolled through the desktop menu and noted the apps I use. I added system apps and daemons that do not appear in the menu. Such as atd, crond, vnstat, conky, and panel applets.

I thought about installing some kind of tracking software. On reflection such software is unlikely to distinguish exactly what I am doing. I might have a text editor or terminal open for X hours a day, but what did I do inside those apps?

Besides, this is not a scientific experiment.

Here is a general description of my systems.

I have a home LAN. Most of the computers run Slackware 14.1 64-bit. I am methodically updating to 14.2. My testing has been slow but at least moving forward.

I have a dedicated file server running NFS and Samba. I run a private web server to duplicate and test my blog. The server provides DNS caching and lookups using dnsmasq and is my LAN time server. The server uses the NTP daemon to sync the time.

SSH key pairs and VNC are used on all systems to access any system on the LAN. All systems run sendmail. A slew of cron jobs and mail forwarding keep me informed to grease the systems as needed.

There are two desktop systems and one laptop on the server subnet. The office desktop has some VirtualBox VMs, some of which are bridged to the LAN subnet.

The other “desktop” is the living room media player, which streams media files from the server. While regularly updated with security patches, mostly the computer is treated like an appliance.

The laptop is multi-boot and has other distros installed. The daily workhorse is Slackware. All distros on the laptop are on the server subnet. There is plenty of space on the office desktop for multi-booting, but I prefer to leave that system as-is.

The laptop uses NetworkManager on all distros to manage wired and wireless connections. All stationary systems use the standard Slackware rc.inet1.conf configuration file.

There are two unmanaged network switches, an Asus RT-AC66U router running DD-WRT, an HP 4200 Laserjet printer with a 620n JetDirect network card, and a VOIP ATA.

The router is configured to allow remote access through SSH and VPN. A script allows me to toggle the ports to the desired status. The router is configured with two VLANs.

One network switch is 8-port and connects all 1 Gbps devices and the printer. The other network switch isolates the LAN from the VOIP ATA.

There is one desktop system on a VLAN that is seldom used. That box has Windows 7 and 10 installed running as VMs through raw disk access. The host operating system is Ubuntu MATE 16.04.

On the office desktop virtual machines include NT4 Workstation, Windows 2000, XP, Salix 14.2 Xfce, Slackware 14.2, and CentOS 6 and 7. There is one virtual machine on the server, an Ubuntu Apt Cacher, idle and not being used.

The office desktop contains partition images of Ubuntu MATE 16.04, which are used to install Linux for other people. I maintain those systems using VirtualBox and raw disk access.

The laptop is configured with a VirtualBox Windows XP machine using raw disk access. The XP virtual machine is used only for show-and-tell.

None of the computers run 24/7. The VMs are used only as needed and not available all of the time. Typically all computers are powered down at the end of the day/evening. Through a cron job the server powers down at night when no clients are detected and schedules itself to boot the next day.

Apps used daily, in no particular order:

  • MATE Desktop
  • Caja file manager
  • Firefox
  • Thunderbird
  • NewsFox (Firefox add-on)
  • ReminderFox (Firefox add-on)
  • Firefox add-ons, mostly privacy related
  • Geany text editor
  • VirtualBox
  • Remmina, RDesktop, X11vnc/Vino
  • SSH
  • Meld
  • Terminal
  • Midnight Commander
  • mcedit
  • NetworkManager
  • vnstat
  • conky
  • atd
  • crond
  • NFS
  • Samba
  • dnsmasq
  • Parcellite clipboard manager
  • MATE Power Daemon
  • MATE Timer Applet
  • MATE Sound Mixer
  • MATE Clock Applet

Used often but not daily:

  • Atril Document Viewer
  • LibreOffice Writer
  • LibreOffice Calc
  • Clementine
  • SMPlayer
  • Xine
  • Goldendict/WordNet
  • Artha
  • Galculator
  • XBMC
  • Eye of MATE Image Viewer
  • Link Checker

Used occasionally:

  • Aisleriot Solitaire
  • Audacity
  • Bluefish
  • Brasero
  • DConf Editor
  • GIMP
  • GParted
  • GThumb
  • Nmap
  • Unetbootin
  • Wireshark

Available but not used because of a lack of skills, knowledge, and need:

  • AVIdemux
  • Dia
  • Inkscape
  • Scribus

Recently I installed Nagios on the server with the goal of learning about network monitoring.

Of particular note is I do not use any apps native only to Windows.

An interesting but perhaps boring list.

Posted: Category: Commentary, Usability Tagged: General

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