Are you looking for a chair that’s guaranteed to work with any and all Linux distros and at a price you can afford? Ask Roblimo, he’ll steer you in the right direction.
I loved seeing an article by our friend Bruce Byfield about buying an ergonomic office chair. Bruce is a smart guy, a Linux user to the max, and author of the excellent book, Designing with LibreOffice. But what’s all this about choosing a Herman Miller chair? Those things are priced for SuperMac UltraPro users!
Bruce is a good guy, and if he wants a chair that costs at least $500, I’m happy for him. But I used to write an online column called Cheap Computing, and it was my excursions into low-cost computing that led me to Linux. So, since I’m the kind of guy who is using a rehabbed Core i3 desktop running Linux, not a Core i32 running Windows 14, I might look for my main office typing chair on craigslist instead of in a high-end office furniture catalog. And that’s exactly what I did.
I started by setting an absolute price ceiling of $100, and hoped to stay under $75 if possible. And for that, mind you, I didn’t expect to get something I could buy new at Office Depot for $99. I wanted ergonomics! At least two of them!! Maybe even three!!!
The chair I am sitting in right now was a craigslist purchase I made about a year ago. I decided to make a fresh, new office chair search for this article. I struck out. This is something you have to expect when you’re looking for used stuff. Sometimes what you want is right in front of you and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you don’t find it on craigslist but you can find it in a used office furniture store, and I assure you there are plenty of used office furniture stores around. I personally prefer to buy furniture from clean, non-smoking homes or offices, but I’m picky. (You know how Linux users are!)
After a few calls, I got in my 1996 Jeep Cherokee (good vehicle for hauling furniture) and drove about six miles to see a WorkPro® Quantum 9000 chair. A fancy name, and in person it looked as fancy as its name and felt really good, so I bought it. For $75. Yep, I talked him down from $80 after admiring (because it was cool, not to kiss ass) his new home-brew tall tower computer in an all-acrylic case, with LEDs inside the case that changed colors depending on the load and tasks. I should have taken pictures of that computer. It was something special. But I was fixated on office chairs at the moment, and my wife was with me and in a “let’s get going” mood.
So we went home, where I rolled my new (to me) WorkPro® Quantum 9000 chair into my office, adjusted it 17 ways from Tuesday, and sat down to edit a video. (I edited a lot of videos that week.)
Did the chair work with Ubuntu? Darn tooting! As well it should have, since the guy I bought it from was running Debian on his too-cool transparent computer, and Ubuntu’s a Debian derivative. I later checked Mint, Fedora, and SUSE. All good. Windows, even. No kidding. Sometimes you hold your breath when you buy something new and crank up Windows (Windows 10 in this case) because… well… you know how Windows can be.
In any case, everything was fine until I spilled something on the seat, and put an ergonomic cushion over the spill. I already had the cushion around, so no problem — and the same thing would have happen with a Herman Miller chair, right?
And then the arms started to crack. I have always been hard on chair arms. They just don’t last for me. But I am too old, too experienced, and too cheap to replace a chair over worn arms. No way. I just slap on a pair of cheap armrest pads and keep on typing.
You can buy an ergonomic office chair Bruce’s way. Or, if you haven’t collected on your inheritance yet (or if you don’t expect one at all) you can do it my way. $75 chair, $15 for the seat cushion, although I’d really already gotten my use out of it, and — a year or so later — $11 for the armrest pads.
In contrast, Bruce’s Herman Miller chair cost…. well, we’ll let him tell you himself (if he wants to). 🙂
Robin “Roblimo” Miller is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief at Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned SourceForge, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, ThinkGeek and Slashdot, and until recently served as a video editor at Slashdot. Now he’s mostly retired, but still works part-time as an editorial consultant for Grid Dynamics, and (obviously) writes for FOSS Force.