What I Use
This page is for those who are curious about the programs and equipment I use to get work done. It is inspired by uses.tech.
- CPU: Ryzen 5 1600 w/ Stock Cooler
- RAM: 2x8GB + 2x4GB (24GB) G.Skill Ripjaws V and 4 respectively
- GPU: PowerColor Red Dragon RX 580 4GB
- PSU: EVGA SuperNova G2 Gold 650W
- Motherboard: AsRock AB350M Pro4
- Case: Deepcool Kendomen Black ATX Mid
- Boot Drive: Samsung 970 Evo 250GB NVMe SSD
- Additional Storage: HGST Deskstar 5K4000 4.0TB 5700RPM HDD
- Windows Boot: Crucial MX300 275GB SATA SSD
- Windows Games: Samsung 860 Evo 250GB SATA SSD
- Monitors: 2x ASUS VP239H-P 23" 1080 IPS
You can see the original build that I did, along with the cost for each item in Canadian dollars at the time that it was purchased, by clicking this link to a PCPartPicker build list. RAM prices at the time (November, 2017) were absolutely horrendous.
I own a Thinkpad T440s (I don’t actually mind the trackpad) which I purchased second-hand off of eBay for a grand total of $215 USD after shipping/etc with the following specifications:
- CPU: Intel i5-4300U
- RAM: 4GB Soldered + 4GB Samsung DDR3L SO-DIMM
- GPU: Intel Integrated Graphics
- Storage: Crucial 250GB SATA SSD
- Screen: 1080p IPS
I also bought a T420s which tends to get a bit more use around the home:
- CPU: Intel i5-2520M
- RAM: 2x4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM
- GPU: Intel Integrated Graphics
- Crucial 128GB SATA SSD
- Kingston 120GB SATA SSD
- Screen: 1600x900 TN
- Dell Venue 11 Pro 7130 - Used mostly as a portable display for when I need to reference things like datasheets or D&D rulebooks.
- CPU: Intel i5-4300Y
- RAM: 8GB DDR3
- GPU: Intel Integrated Graphics
- Storage: 128GB SATA M.2 SSD
- Screen: 1080p w/ Touch
- With dock and keyboard
- Runs the latest Fedora
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite - Used for reading PDFs, kept entirely offline.
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB Storage
- With protective folding case
Purchased in 2015 and still going strong almost 5 years later. I haven’t even had to swap the battery yet.
- ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser
- 3GB RAM
- 16GB Storage
- Runs LineageOS with no Google stuff added
Once this phone becomes unusable, I’ll be replacing it with a PinePhone.
I try to self-host most of my services and I aim for low-cost, power-efficient, and silent equipment. Below is a list of the equipment which I currently use:
I got this computer as a reward for helping a friend build a PC. I added 2 more gigabit NICs with a PCIe card for a total of three (one WAN, one LAN, one Wi-Fi). It has more horsepower than a router typically needs, but it also does more than a typical router. For example, it runs intrusion detection software which scans every packet. It also typically only draws 15-20W and stays very quiet. Here are the specifications:
- HP SFF Desktop PC w/ Proprietary Motherboard/Case/PSU
- CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 CPU @ 3.30GHz (4C/4T)
- RAM: 2x2GB DDR3
- Storage: 160GB Fujitsu 2.5" SATA-II HDD
This is one of my old laptops. I’ve owned it for at least 7 years if not longer and I’m pretty sure it was my second laptop ever.
- Lenovo V570 Laptop (missing display)
- CPU: i5-2450M @ 2.50GHz (2C/4T)
- RAM: 12GB DDR3 SO-DIMM
- Storage: Seagate Momentus 500GB 5400RPM
- Backup Storage: Seagate Expansion 8TB External HDD
Purchased for $20 including a case from a local seller.
- PineA64+ (Original, not LTS)
- CPU: Allwinner A64
- RAM: 2GB DDR3
- Storage: 32GB SanDisk Ultra SD Card
I try to stay as far away from proprietary applications as I possibly can. I typically use terminal-based applications over GUI ones as I find that they feel more efficient once I’ve learned how to use them. Many also support vim-like keybindings which are burned into my muscle memory now.
View my dotfiles (mirror).
My operating system of choice is Debian GNU/Linux. I run the stable variant (which is Debian 10 Buster at the time of writing) on all of my machines as I love how stable and dependable it is. I also like the fact that I can do a minimal install with no GUI environment and build my system up from that (much like Arch).
Although I really like Debian, I have been experimenting with other distributions and operating systems. Gentoo has piqued my interest and I’ve enjoyed using FreeBSD and OpenBSD (though I don’t think I’ll be using BSDs on the desktop for now).
I am not evangelistic about running specific Linux distributions and prefer to encourage others to use whichever distribution they are most comfortable with.
Desktop Environment/Window Manager
I use a tiling window manager and have essentially built my own desktop environment from the ground up by gluing together different components à la the Unix philosophy. I don’t use a display manager; the environment is started with
- dwm as my tiling window manager,
- slstatus as my status bar,
- dmenu as my application launcher,
- dunst as my notification daemon,
- feh to set my desktop background,
- and betterlockscreen as my lock screen.
I use the iceberg colourscheme and try to make the rest of my desktop environment follow that colourscheme.
I am partial to the DejaVu font family. I use them pretty much everywhere.
I use st (aka Simple Terminal). I actually really like the model of patching a minimal piece of software with the features that I need and I enjoy the simplicity, speed, and light feeling of it.
I used to use urxvt but it didn’t handle unicode that well and lacked truecolour support so I switched to st.
I don’t use one. I find the tools available on the command line (
rm, etc) allow me to accomplish what I need to do faster than a dedicated file manager.
I use Neovim. I am very comfortable with the keybindings and modal nature of vim and vim-like editors. I use a select few plugins and a colour scheme but try to keep things as minimal as possible.
Firefox. I tried using some other browsers such as qutebrowser but always kept coming back to Firefox thanks to its focus on privacy, excellent ad-blocking support, and general usability. I also use lynx for browsing on the command line.
I use Firefox with the following addons:
- uBlock Origin
- Privacy Badger
- HTTPS Everywhere
- Vim Vixen
- Video Speed Controller
I use aerc. It’s light, fast, and lets me efficiently manage my mail. When I need to go offline, I synchronize my mail with mbsync.
I use weechat as my client. It’s customizable, powerful, and yet simple with sane defaults.
I use Riot for Matrix-based communication and Signal with people for whom Matrix would be a bit too complicated.
I use KeepassXC. I chose it for being really simple to manage compared to something like BitWarden and because I really like the user interface.
I now use cmus for its simplicity and ease-of-use. It does everything I need from a music player.
mpv is my video player of choice. It’s light, simple, and versatile. It also integrates with youtube-dl so I can watch Youtube videos or Twitch streams without opening my web browser.
RSS Feed Reader
Newsboat because it’s simple, easy, terminal-based, and I can program a bunch of macros to open up whichever feed in whichever application I want (e.g. open a Youtube feed in MPV).
I will typically write documents in either markdown or LaTeX. For instances where I need to interact with
.docx files and whatnot, I use Libreoffice.
I prefer using sent because I like the style of presentation that the tool produces. If I ever need anything more complex I opt for Beamer.
I use pen and paper for this. For whatever reason, I find it cumbersome to use electronic organizers/calendars for keeping track of my life and I much prefer having something physical to store this information. If you’re curious, I use a Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dot Grid Notebook and a Burgundy/Gold Parker 51 with Waterman Inspired Blue ink.
sxiv since it handles all the image types I need it to and has nice keybindings.
Zathura for its excellent keybindings, nearly instant launching compared to something like Evince, and for being a very nice minimalist piece of software. Chosen over MuPDF because Zathura has an index mode.