We recently interviewed Ben Hart on how he uses Fedora. This is part of a series on the Fedora Magazine. The series profiles Fedora users and how they use Fedora to get things done. Contact us on the feedback form to express your interest in becoming a interviewee.

Who is Ben Hart?

Ben Hart is an information technology professional with over 19 years of experience. His first experience with Linux was with Mandrake on an old Compaq laptop. “Admittedly I did not keep it long, due to how well it didn’t want to work for me and supporting a full Windows environment made things difficult.”

One of his childhood heroes is Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer. Now Ben works as a Linux Systems Administrator. “I am a Linux SysAdmin working for Montana Interactive and I help manage over 60 servers that host over 300 web applications in the best state in the lower 48, Montana.”

Hart started his career in Alabama as phone tech support. He then spent several years as a technician for computer and network systems in the area of Arkansas and Mississippi. His winding trail finally landed him in Montana. “I again got hideously lucky and scored a gig here in Montana. So in addition to another life change in moving across the country I also scored a career change: Windows admin to Linux Admin.”

Ben loves the state of Montana and enjoys the great outdoors. “Since moving to Montana I hike, exploring the wilderness before it’s all gone is my primary, off-duty passion. But I also wood-work, perform shade-tree mechanicin’, hunt, fish, and enjoy my livestock.”

Ben Hart Livestock

When I asked Ben for more information about his livestock he talked about having both chickens and ducks. He claimed that, despite yard fowl reportedly having the intelligence of a three year old, they make amazingly good pets. Hart said, “not only do they keep the bug and weed population down but they give you fertilizer and food!”  He continued, “plus my oldest daughter is special needs and absolutely loves them, ducks especially calm her and is another reason to get outdoors.”

Ben is very new to using Fedora, but has already gotten involved in the community. “As a primary OS I’ve only been using Fedora for about 3 months now.  I dual-booted for about two weeks before the switch and just recently deleted my windows partitions. He struggled to find a decent Google Drive client, but found that he could use SpiderOak instead. Ben made the switch to Fedora because he was frustrated by blue screens of death, poor security and he just wanted something new.

The Fedora Community

Late one night roughly three months ago, Hart was doing some research to resolve frequent blue screen issues on his Windows 10 laptop when he realized it was time to make the switch. “I support about a 80/20 Linux over Windows environment now. Why do I continue to put up with this?” That same night he made the decision to help out in the Fedora community whenever and wherever he could.

How busy people in the Fedora community were was one of the first things that struck Ben. “The more senior folks seem very busy, but always willing to help. They are also very, very knowledgeable.” He feels more people might make the switch to Fedora if they knew how dedicated and seriously people in the Fedora community take their jobs.

“Since I can’t code my way out of a wet paper sack, and hardware interests me I joined the Infra-Apprentice group.” Recently a couple of the SOPs he created were committed upstream. Hart hopes to become involved with the automation sides of things and pick up some Python programming skills as well.

What Hardware and Software?

All of the servers Ben supports at work run CentOS. Hart told me, “my laptop is a Dell XPS 15 9550 running F25. 16GB RAM, a 500GB NVME SSD and a WD15 Thunderbolt dock powering two 34-inch ASUS LCDs.” Additionally, he uses an Logitech MX510 mouse and a Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard. The only issue he has is that at times Plasma has issues with the two external monitors attached via the dock.

Ben Hart Desktop

What Software?

“I use Fedora 25, Slack, Evolution, KeePass, Konversation, Chrome, Konsole, KVM and the SpiderOak client daily.” Typically Ben just stays in the terminal for making text or configuration edits unless dealing with a huge file.  For huge files he uses cat to move it over to Sublime.  For visualizing git repos he makes use of gitKraken.  “I lucked into a Konsole theme while checking out /r/unixporn called bullet-train.”  He says it is absolutely, amazingly useful. “It has prompt changes for git, Perl, Python, Ruby and a lot more.  Plus it’s visually appealing.” Ben makes use of cowsay and fortune. Hart also makes use of pianobar for a CLI interface to Pandora.

Hart expanded on his use of SpiderOak by telling me he uses it exactly the same way he used Google Drive, but with additional features. “They are just a cloud storage provider, but in addition a zero-knowledge provider.  Data is deduped, compressed and encrypted.” While he noted that uploading takes a while his opinion was that it was worth it. “I use SpiderOak to store pictures from my android phone, storing Powershell and Bash scripts that I write, and pretty much anything I don’t want to lose.  I use it’s locally cached folder as my Documents, Work Stuff, Projects, and Desktop folders all in one.”