Table of Contents

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.

Hardware

Desktop

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.

Laptops

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:

I also bought a T420s which tends to get a bit more use around the home:

Tablets

Phone

Purchased in 2015 and still going strong almost 5 years later. I haven’t even had to swap the battery yet.

Once this phone becomes unusable, I’ll be replacing it with a PinePhone.

Server Equipment

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:

OPNSense Router

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:

Proxmox Server

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.

Gitea Server

Purchased for $20 including a case from a local seller.

Software

A picture
    of my desktop with neofetch open.

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).

Operating System(s)

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 startx.

I use:

Colourscheme

I use the iceberg colourscheme and try to make the rest of my desktop environment follow that colourscheme.

Fonts

I am partial to the DejaVu font family. I use them pretty much everywhere.

Terminal

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.

File Manager

I don’t use one. I find the tools available on the command line (mv, rm, etc) allow me to accomplish what I need to do faster than a dedicated file manager.

Text Editor/IDE

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.

Web Browser

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:

Mail Client

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.

IRC Client

I use weechat as my client. It’s customizable, powerful, and yet simple with sane defaults.

Instant Messaging

I use Riot for Matrix-based communication and Signal with people for whom Matrix would be a bit too complicated.

Password Manager

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.

Music Player

I now use cmus for its simplicity and ease-of-use. It does everything I need from a music player.

Video 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).

Document Creation

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.

Presentations

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.

Day Planning/Organization/Notes

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.

Image Viewing

sxiv since it handles all the image types I need it to and has nice keybindings.

PDF Viewer

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.