My Linux Story: Sean Ballais

Linux gives me all the tools I need

Posted 01 Mar 2016 by 

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Linux is all around us. It's on our phones in the form of Android. It's used on the International Space Station. It provides much of the backbone of the Internet. And yet many people never notice it. Discovering Linux is a rewarding endeavor. Lots of other people have shared their Linux stories on Opensource.com, and now it's my turn.

I still remember when I first discovered Linux in 2008. The person who helped me discover Linux was my father, Socrates Ballais. He was an economics professor here in Tacloban City, Philippines. He was also a technology enthusiast. He taught me a lot about computers and technology, but only advocated using Linux as a fallback operating system in case Windows fails.

My earliest days

Before we had a computer in the home, I was a Windows user. I played games, created documents, and did all the other things kids do with computers. I didn't know what Linux was or what it was used for. The Windows logo was my symbol for a computer.

When we got our first computer, my father installed Linux (Ubuntu 8.04) on it. Being the curious kid I was, I booted into the operating system. I was astonished with the interface. It was beautiful. I found it to be very user friendly. For some time, all I did in Ubuntu was play the bundled games. I would do my school work in Windows.

The first install

Four years later, I decided that I would reinstall Windows on our family computer. Without hesitation, I also decided to install Ubuntu. With that, I had fallen in love with Linux (again). Over time, I became more adept with Ubuntu and would casually advocate its use to my friends. When I got my first laptop, I installed it right away.

Today

Today, Linux is my go-to operating system. When I need to do something on a computer, I do it in Linux. For documents and presentations, I use Microsoft Office via Wine. For my web needs, there's Chrome and Firefox. For email, there's Geary. You can do pretty much everything with Linux.

Most, if not all, of my programming work is done in Linux. The lack of a standard Integrated Development Environment (IDE) like Visual Studio or XCode taught me to be flexible and learn more things as a programmer. Now a text editor and a compiler/interpreter are all I need to start coding. I only use an IDE in cases when it's the best tool for accomplishing a task at hand. I find Linux to be more developer-friendly than Windows. To generalize, Linux gives me all the tools I need to develop software.

Today, I am the co-founder and CTO of a startup called Creatomiv Studios. I use Linux to develop code for the backend server of our latest project, Basyang. I'm also an amateur photographer, and use GIMP and Darktable to edit and manage photos. For communication with my team, I use Telegram.

The beauty of Linux

Many may see Linux as an operating system only for those who love solving complicated problems and working on the command line. Others may see it as a rubbish operating system lacking the support of many companies. However, I see Linux as a thing of beauty and a tool for creation. I love Linux the way it is and hope to see it continue to grow.

My Linux Story

The My Linux Story series highlights stories about how people from all walks of life got started with Linux and what distributions they love. To share your story, contact us at: open@opensource.com.

11 Comments

jimmysjolund

Nice story!

Out of curiosity, why do you use Microsoft Office through Wine? Is there a need to share or collaborate on the same documents or else some native document and presentation suite or application would work?

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seanballais

Hey Jimmy,

I hope you enjoyed reading the article.

I had to use Microsoft Office through Wine because most of the files I receive from my friends, families, and classmates are in .docx or .pptx. From experience, LibreOffice cannot display MS Office files properly. As far as I know, much of the formatting is ruined when I open .docx files in Writer. Also, I'm using features not present in LibreOffice.

On the side note, I'll be installing LibreOffice to open my OpenDocument files (.odt, odp, etc.).

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Mark H Harris

hi Sean, actually LibreOffice does a really nice job of working with docx (etc) files. I used OpenOffice throughout under grad, and I used LibreOffice throughout graduate school; worked nicely. I haven't used Microsoft products since 1998. Best of luck to you.

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seanballais

Hi Mark,

I gotta admit that LibreOffice does a nice job working with docx files and as an office suite itself. I even used it in sixth grade and throughout high school. Heck, I used LibreOffice to write my thesis paper related to computer vision I did when I was in high school.

I love LibreOffice. But there are times when LibreOffice displays docx files with issues and I can't just afford to have that. That's why I still use Microsoft Office though in conjunction with LibreOffice. There are features that LibreOffice really needs to improve on like its image manipulation in documents, compatibility with Powerpoint files and its UI. The UI doesn't feel right for my tastes. But, in general, I believe that LibreOffice will improve in the future and maybe, just maybe, be on par with Microsoft Office.

Best of luck to you too.

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benz

I'm agree with you mark, i've been using linux for years and found libre office still incompatible which i mean it very lack of displaying microsoft office document, so my best chooice till now is open my friend document on my windows virtualbox.

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jimmysjolund

My university kindly accepted everything in both MS Office and OpenDocument formats. When I was chairman of the housing community board where we live I tried to convert our documentation and applications to LibreOffice as all the members different MS Office versions were incompatible with each other. I failed. I did however manage them to go ahead and collaborate through Google Docs. Since then my experience is that people are more inclined to accept Google Docs as a platform than to install LibreOffice even though the functionality in Google Docs are much more limited.

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seanballais

Google Docs is great. But I prefer my files to be save in my hard drive rather than in the cloud unless there are certain circumstances that requires me to save my documents in the cloud. I'm still checking on how I can integrate Google Docs in my workflow. I'm sticking to Microsoft Office as my primary office suite for now.

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akrish.aki

Loved your article, kind of similar to how I started using linux, but I prefer to use windows when using MS Office. In my experience the Wine or PlayOnLinux fail several times and I don't get that smoothness of using MS Office.
And I completely agree when it comes to coding Linux is better than Windows, plus I think Linux is getting good at IDEs, eclipse or Android Studio works great. And, since you are a developer I believe you also take the advantage of Terminal as oppose to Window's CMD, I believe its pretty powerful and worth mentioning.
Looking forward to more posts form you!

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seanballais

Thanks! :)

Yes, I do love the Terminal. It looks better compared to Windows CMD in my opinion. I no longer use IDEs when developing software anymore (unless, of course, necessary or required). I find using a text editor (Atom for the win!) and the Terminal more suited to my workflow. Heck, I use the text editor-terminal combination when developing the server for our latest project over at Creatomiv.

Regarding your problems with installing MS Office through Wine, it might probably be related to your system. What distro are you using?

I'll see if I can post more articles here in OpenSource.com. I also have a blog (http://seanballais.github.io) where I post articles mostly related to technology at least once a month.

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DatLe

With Ubuntu you can't use VisualStudio/ XCode to develop app for WindowsPhone/ IOS. Are there way to do ???

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seanballais

Hey DatLe,

Sorry for the late response.

I am not aware of any method of developing Windows Phone and iOS apps on Linux. Well, at least, not natively. You can use HTML to develop apps for the said platforms.

I do believe that there are multiple frameworks that enable iOS development on Linux. I m not quite sure with Windows Phone development but I don't see myself developing for Windows Phone anytime soon.

Sean

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Hi! I'm Sean. I'm a student in the University of the Philippines. I code for fun and freelance a bit on the side. I've written code that many people used already. I blog to express not impress. I've been coding for nearly 5 years already, and still learning. I code, blog, support open source, read, play (sports and video games), listen, and learn. And apparently still single.