The Binary Times Podcast

Review: The Binary Times Podcast

Last Updated on December 10, 2018

I recently authored a detailed review of the Linux podcast scene, grilling 25 podcasts targeted at Linux and open source enthusiasts. Like any roundup of this type, it’s almost inevitable that a few podcasts missed my radar. One of these is The Binary Times Podcast. Apologies to the hosts of the show.

To rectify matters, here’s my take on The Binary Times Podcast.

This review is incorporated into my detailed review, so you can see where they rank among their peers.


Listen to The Binary Times Podcast. We are two Linux enthusiasts who enjoy what technology and the free software world have to offer and want to spread the word. Come and have a listen.

About the Show

The Binary Times Podcast is a fortnightly show targeted at beginner to intermediate Linux users. Shows typically start with the hosts chatting about their Linux and non-Linux adventures since the last show. A leitmotif is the current weather.

There’s good coverage in each show. The hosts chat about tech hardware they’re using, their experiences of Linux distributions and open source software, as well as other topics of interest to Linux users like the furore over the Copyright Directive. Along the way listeners learn about useful websites, tutorials, videos, and lots besides.

There’s some Linux and tech news mentioned in the show, but this isn’t a news-centric podcast. Interesting topics mentioned in other Linux podcasts get occasional mentions.

I particularly like the “Under the Hood” segment of the show where the hosts offer useful Linux command-line tips. Even for experienced Linux users it’s easy to forget powerful shortcuts such as Ctrl-R at a shell which lets you navigate bash history. There’s discussion of useful command-line open source software.

Show notes are often shamefully neglected by Linux podcasters. Thankfully, Binary Times’s website offers detailed show notes for each episodes, including timestamps.

The show typically closes with a classic Irish saying. For future shows, I’ll try to get in the spirit by consuming copious amounts of Murphy’s.

I’ve seen a few “open” Linux podcasts produced with proprietary software. But The Binary Times uses Open Source every step of the way. The podcast itself is recorded with Audacity, together with Ardour and other software from KXStudio, which is a collection of applications and plugins for professional audio production. The podcast’s website runs Linux and delivers web pages using nginx.

The show is funded by donations. Listeners can donate with Patreon, PayPal, and ethereum. They’ve also recently started selling Binary Times polo and t-shirts via HelloTux.

What improvements would I like?

First, I’d welcome better post-production of the shows. For example, there’s a few too many uncomfortable pauses in the episodes.

I’d also like to hear improvements to the audio quality. I’m not referring to the audio quality of guests; often this is outside of a podcast’s control. But the audio quality of Mark’s feed is sometimes below par, although this is somewhat compensated by his lilting voice.

After listening to a few dozen shows, I only had a few disagreements with technical content. For example, in Season 4 Episode 1, Wayne claims there is an issue with Manjaro and snaps. Paraphrasing, Wayne has the view “[snap] probably is supported in Manjaro … but your dependency levels just bloat out … I’m sure they are available [for Arch] … I don’t know how much of a backend I want to put behind it for using what’s essentially an Ubuntu created technology in an Arch distribution.”

I may have misunderstood these comments. But for the avoidance of any doubt, if snaps are really only worthwhile in Ubuntu, they’re dead as a dodo. But in Canonical’s own words “Snaps are containerised software packages that are simple to create and install on all major Linux systems without modification.” [emphasis mine]. And I’ve tested snaps in half a dozen popular distributions including Manjaro, and Canonical’s statement is correct.

It’s true snapd is not pre-installed in Arch / Manjaro unlike Ubuntu. But that’s trivial to rectify. Snap usage is a few commands away. For Manjaro:

sudo pacman -Sy snapd

sudo systemctl enable --now snapd.socket

Follow that up with say

sudo snap install tmnationsforever

and you’ll be driving at mind-blowing speeds in TrackMania Nations Forever, a classic online PC racing game.

I’d like better guest introductions on the shows. For example, Mike Saunders joined the hosts in Series 3 Episode 12, without any background information. He’d been on the show before (Series 3 Episode 7) where listeners learned about him. But for new listeners, and particularly beginners, it’s always good practice to identify guests to listeners. Series 4 Episode 2 carried an in-depth discussion with Maurizio Porrato. Strangely, he didn’t mention where he works. From a bit of googling, I stumbled upon Maurizio’s LinkedIn page. He’s an OpenStack specialist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. This information helped put his input into context.

Links to a guest’s social media pages in the show notes would make the show notes even more useful. For example, Ben Klasser, the guest on Series 4 Episode 3, has a web site and Twitter account.

About the Hosts

Mark hails from Kilkishen, a village in southeast County Clare, Ireland. He uses Linux exclusively at home. He works in the telecommunication industry, has a troubleshooting background and has using Linux for about 20 years. Mark is an Associate Member of the Free Software Foundation.

Wayne is also Irish but lives in Bristol, England. Wayne works in the education sector administering systems. He has a general interest in Linux, likes vim, leans strongly towards Ubuntu MATE, but also dabbles with other distributions such as Kubuntu, Manjaro and Arch.
LengthAbout 1 hour
FormatOGG, MP3
First Show23 January 2017
LicenseCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
What do we think of this podcast?
Content7 out of 10 rating
Conversational8 out of 10 rating
Engaging8 out of 10 rating
Verdict:We really enjoy listening to The Binary Times. The hosts bring passion, character, and tech knowledge, weaving their own experiences (warts and all) into the narrative. Think of them as experienced geeks that you can learn a lot from although there's a wee too much rambling. The show is relaxed and light-hearted. From a production perspective, it's a bit rough around the edges. Overall, it's a podcast worth a subscribe.

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