October 10, 2014

Linux Kernel Developer Work Spaces, Unplugged (Video): John Linville

John Linville is a principal engineer at Red Hat and the maintainer for wireless LANs in the Linux kernel. In this video he gives us a guided tour of his home office, including his Fedora and RHEL workstations, his collection of vintage hardware, and a few retro computing projects underway. (For more, see the full series of Linux kernel developer videos.)

Linux.com: What area of the kernel do you work on and what are you working on now?

John Linville: Officially, I am the maintainer for wireless LANs in the kernel. But more recently I've been dabbling in other John bLinvilletopics related to cloud networking and SDN.

What do you like most about your work space?

The best part is that it is at home. I live about an hour from Red Hat's headquarters, and that commute time is just wasted when I have to go into the office. Plus, working at home makes it a bit easier to transition back and forth between work, home, and hobbies.

What do you like least?

I dislike how messy it gets. I share the space between work and hobbies, and from time to time one or the other of them causes some upheaval to the space. When the clutter builds high enough, it starts to effect my mood. So, I try not to let that build too much. :-)

What's the oddest work space you've ever used?

Early in my career I worked at IBM. During those early years, I was a bit of a machine -- constantly coding, testing, inventing, or whatever. I spent lots of time in the lab. I had an office,but it was at the other end of the building and it felt too far away for me to be productive.

Before long, the lab was expanded by walling-off parts of an adjacent hallway. A few of us young folks took that opportunity to move our desks out into that lab expansion (aka the hallway) so we could be

productive and still have a desk of our own. The hallway did have the advantage of having windows, even if we were on the ground floor.

Of course, someone complained that our desktops could be viewed from outside the building -- we were at risk for corporate espionage! So, we gathered-up some discarded printouts and used them to paper the windows. Being a snarky 20-something, I wrote "IBM CONFIDENTIAL" in big letters on some of the papers we put on the windows. There was still some pushback, since the discarded printouts contained source code. But eventually we were allowed to keep our unique space... :-)

Is there a particular item in your work space that we should know about?

Other than my retro computing hoard, the most interesting thing to me is my glass chair mat. Making a chair mat out of glass sounds stupid, but it works really well. The tempered glass is tougher than you

might think, and it stays flat even under a heavyweight like me. Any bigger folks out there that want to use an office chair in a carpeted area should find a glass mat!

Read more about John's retro computing hobby in the blogs he writes about his Fahrfallgame for the Radio Shack Color Computer, Motorola 6847 graphics chip, and general retro hacking topics.

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