Miskatonic University Press

I uses this


My Setup

I love reading The Setup, a bunch of nerdy interviews where geeks describe what hardware and software they use. I’m always interested in seeing the tools people use and where they do their work, especially artists’ studios.

My setup is pretty plain, but I thought I’d document it. I challenge any Code4Lib types, or anyone else who wants to do it, to pick up on the idea and write up what they use.

(Note: this is my personal setup. At work I use a large Dell laptop running Windows. At home everything is FLOSS except one program, I think.)

What hardware do I use?

I have two laptops. My main one is a Dell Inspiron 13. It tells me that the chip is an Intel Dual-Core T4200 @ 2 GHz but I don’t think I paid any attention to that even when I bought it. These days any new computer is fast enough for me. It has two gigs of RAM, a 150 gig hard drive, and a 13.3" screen at 1200x800. There’s something flakey with the wifi interface inside.

I also have a netbook for travelling. I used to have an Asus Eee 701, but I just moved up to an Eee 1005PE because the tiny keyboard was really slowing me down. This new Eee has a 10" screen at 1024x600 and a 250 gig drive. The battery life is astounding. My first day really using it, it went over nine hours.

I have a D-Link RangeBooster N Dual Band wifi router and a Gnet ADSL modem. My printer is a Brother HL-2040, a cheap laser job that works well.

My phone is an HTC Dream. The screen is cracked but it works perfectly.

My MP3 player is a SanDisk Sansa Fuze 4 GB. It plays Ogg and FLAC as well as MP3. I rip to FLAC now.

And what software?

I use Ubuntu and GNOME (with a virtual desktop four across and two down). That gives me gnome-terminal, F-Spot to manage photographs GNOME Do for super-quick launching of programs without having to use a mouse (I use the equivalent Launchy in Windows), Pan as my newsreader, and Totem for video.

My editor is Emacs, with some helper modes, especially AUCTeX for LaTeX and Rinari for Ruby. I use outline-mode every day.

I use LaTeX (the TeX Live distribution) for all my writing. Source code for text: I love it.

My browser is Firefox, with a number of extensions, most especially: Adblock Plus, CS Lite, Readability, Firebug, Web Developer, Optimize Google, and Zotero.

Sometimes I use Opera and Chrome.

I use Planet Planet as my feed reader. I have two planets: one for general stuff, one for library geek stuff. I like reading feeds this way because if something scrolls off the bottom, I don’t need to worry about it. I never see “you have 2,349 unread blog posts.”

I use git every day, to manage source code, to do lists, writing, and more. I love it. I need to edit files when I don’t have net access, so I can’t use Google Docs for my crucial stuff. I use git to distribute important work across four machines.

I program in Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Maybe Python some day.

My shell is bash. I read personal mail with Alpine and work mail with Thunderbird. Audacity for editing audio, gPodder for podcasts, EasyTAG to manage audio file metadata, Freemind for mind maps, BOINC doing climateprediction.net, Hydrogen as a drum machine and sampler, and XChat for IRC. I also use Skype sometimes even though it’s not free.

For web sites I use WordPress for blogging and Drupal for my personal site.

My phone is running Android 1.5, which is now out of date, but it does everything I need and does it very well. My most commonly used apps on it are connectbot (an SSH client), Toshl to track expenses, Google Sky Map, My Tracks, Advanced Task Killer, Ring Toggle, and Aldiko for ebooks.

What would be your dream setup?

I wish my laptop wifi wasn’t buggy and that my ADSL line didn’t sometimes go bad and lose synch or give me monster packet loss for a few days. Aside from that I’m happy with what I have.

I used to have a much more complicated setup, with a big machine and a big monitor, plus one or two other older boxes (all these running FreeBSD), one acting as my gateway/router, but I got tired of it all. It was a big mess. I wanted to spend less time administering my machines and more time using them. I switched to Ubuntu on laptops and like it a lot.