💻 My setup

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dracula-themed-artix-linux-with-qtile.jpg

Figure 1: A screenshot from my laptop.

Table of Contents

Software philosophy

I generally have the following criteria for the software I use:

  • If possible (which is the case for most things) should be free software (also called open source). I of course fail on this if you start nitpicking (intel management engine, proprietary javascript in browser, wifi drivers etc).
  • If it makes sense (which isn’t the case with the modern web for instance) the software has a command line interface and can be extended to work with other software, ideally with a Unix sort of logic.
  • The software follows either GTK- or qt-theme.

Hardware itself doesn’t matter much to me as long as the laptop has Linux support, enough specs (anything more than an i5 or similar and 8 gigs ram is good), ssd, ips screen and a trackpoint.

If curious about my setup you can check my git repositories for dotfiles, LaTeX-templates and similar.

Categories of software

The following software I use regularly and recommend:

Desktop operating system

Distributions don’t matter much as long as it’s maintained, got the software you need and you know how to use it. I recently migrated to Artix Linux because I needed newer packages and really like the OpenRC init system. If you are new to Linux I recommend Linux Mint for 90% of people, I ran that happily for many years. If you do multimedia you might want to check out Ubuntu Studio because it gives the most out of the box audio production setup I’m aware of (do note there is a Ubuntu Studio Installer that works on Linux Mint). Just make sure your hardware is supported.

Ubuntu is okay (and have done very important improvements to Linux eco system as a whole), but they always do some questionable things here and there (like pushing snap packages is the latest issue). I find Linux Mint is very similar to Ubuntu but they remove the bad things like telemetry, Snaps and ships with desktop environments that make sense, like Cinnamon and Xfce.

Most common mistake is choosing distribution based on the looks, that is theming/desktop environment, not distribution specific.

My girlfriend runs Solus Linux which is a good rolling distribution as well, as long as the repositories got the software you need/you don’t mind using Flatpak or Snap for potentially missing packages (works for her, not for me).

Window manager / Desktop environment

I remember thinking window managers were crazy, but I must say I really enjoy qtile. After you develop the muscle memory for shortcuts and find the surrounding software there’s no going back. Before that I was mainly running desktop environments like Xfce, which is good as long as you theme it properly. KDE is another desktop environment I had a good time with, even though the customization possibilities made me a bit distracted with KDE.

Terminal

I’ve tried a lot and I keep coming back to terminator. I don’t use the tiling functionality, since qtile does that for me, but it’s the terminal emulator I have basically no issues with. Kitty did not work well once ssh:ed into a server, st crashed if I did not use a certain emoji package (and I did not like how st scrolls). I had some issues with urxvt and alacritty (can’t remember anymore what it was). So, I keep sticking with terminator. guake is pretty nice if you use a desktop environment.

On the meme side cool-retro-term and eDEX-UI are pretty funny.

Text editors

I like Vim, it’s certainly worth learning. I probably would’ve stayed happily with Vim if it wasn’t that I occasionally need to use a ton of different text/coding formats and because of this I looked into Doom Emacs. Principle wise I’m against Doom Emacs, but I have really fell in love with Org Mode (this website is written using Org Mode). When it comes to managing rewrites of both my fictional work as well as scripting, git through Magit is really awesome. Doom Emacs has a lot of things going for it. I still fire up Vim for quick stuff, but for bigger projects I am using Doom Emacs more and more. Org Mode exported to LaTeX pdf is really great, for more complex stuff I still use plain LaTeX as well. I have uploaded my LaTeX-templates if you’re interested in that.

For people looking for getting away from traditional proprietary text editors, but is scared of the terminal, I would recommend LibreOffice. As an alternative there’s also OnlyOffice (which I never tried myself, but heard good things about it). For script writing Manuskript might be interesting for some of you as well.

Web browsers

There is no good web browser sadly and each and everyone has their issues/risks (well summarized in this Luke Smith blog post). I use librewolf (modified Firefox with privacy enhancement) as main browser and ungoogled-chromium (Google Chrome without Google) as backup. I would love to use qutebrowser, but the adblocking capabilities aren’t good enough as of now sadly. Tor is of course useful for general browsing. I don’t trust Brave (it’s also Chromium-based, so I don’t see the win over ungoogled-chromium) and having built in ads and junk (while blocking ads?) is stupid.

Either way, tldr is basically, use Firefox, disable telemetry and similar stuff and install the following extensions:

Browser extensions

  • uBlock Origin - the most essential extension. Open source, safe adblocking with the plus of being able to block the cookie announcement popup and much more.
  • Cookie Autodelete - to only save needed cookies and purge the rest.
  • Decentraleys - reduced tracking.
  • Dark Reader - maybe not strictly necessary, but I can’t stand light themed websites.

Of course, more extensions=more unique browser fingerprint, it is what it is. (Plus there’s a lot of shady extensions out there, but those ^ should be all right.)

On the phone side I recommend some F-Droid browser like Fennec F-Droid (comes with some spyware stuff sadly, it is Firefox basically, so you can install uBlock Origin etc as well) or Bromite (basically Ungoogled Chromium for Android with some improvements).

Theme

Dracula on the GTK side. For my terminal theme I do some modification’s, but blends well with Dracula.

Icons

Tela purple dark looks good with Dracula. The fallback tried and true is of course papirus-icon-theme.

File managers

Because I got used to Xfce I like thunar file manager. I have started to play around a bit with lf as well.

Fonts

mononoki for terminal, text editors and similar. Accanthis and Linux Libertine are nice for the rest.

Presentation software

Depending on context I use sent or Org Mode. Converting markdown to LaTeX-pdf using beamer package works okay as well.

pdf reader

Dark themed zathura is good.

DAW

I use Ardour for bigger projects and sneedacity (Audacity-fork without telemetry) for quick edits.

Image

Gimp is all right for me. Occasionally I do some raw image editing with rawtherapee. I’ve been considering learning Krita but never got down to it, seems like a good program though.

Chat

XMPP with profanity or Gajim on Linux and blabber on Android. As fallback if people don’t use XMPP I message them with Signal. If you want to host your own XMPP-server I recommend prosody.

Mail clients

neomutt (with the help of mutt-wizard). On Android K-9 is all right.

Backups

rsync can do everything. If wanting a GUI deja-dup is good for home folder (with encryption) and Timeshift for system (Timeshift got a pretty good cli interface as well).

Cloud

I use it less and less, but if needing a cloud for note take syncing, sharing files, having video calls and all that jazz Nextcloud is good.

Phone operating system

LineageOS (alternatively, if needing proprietary apps that depends on Google Play services, check out microG) with basically all apps from F-Droid. Hopefully some day I’ll daily drive something like a pinephone. Overall though, my philosophy is if you can do it “in the real world”, as a fallback use a Linux desktop computer and as a last resort use a phone (ideally with a free operating system).

Updated 2022-08-31 Wed 18:07

using Doom EmacsOrg Mode

Author: Ricky Lindén