Programs and Equipment I Use
What I want is something that works well and puts privacy first. No code in the tool should extend past basic functionality (this means no telemetry without my consent, no auto updates without my consent, no DRM, etc.). After that first concern the extensibility of the tool is second; if the tool isn't fast, functional, minimalist, and gets the job done I rather not use it. I do make exceptions for some things (such as web browsers), but most of what is on my computer falls under those categories.
- Operating System/Distribution
- I use GNU/Linux, and to be specific, Devuan Ceres (Debian Sid minus Systemd) on most of my computers (the exception being my home server, it runs the stable branch: Devuan Beowulf). I run Devuan for multiple reasons, but the main ones are as follows:
- Minimal, but easy Install
- No SystemD
- Keeps the APT package manager
- Strong rolling release distro
- APT comes with tor integration
- The Suckless Terminal is my terminal of choice. It is fast, hackable, and minimalist. It simply gets the job done, has everything I need, and what it doesn't have I can easily implement myself. It is perfect for user customization as it comes only with what you need. You can fork someone else's terminal and set it up as you wish.
- My Terminal uses zsh, its just bash but better. Nice syntax highlighting, better tab completion, and much more customizable. I use dash as my actual login shell so scripts don't run horribly slow.
- Window Manager
- Openbox is my Window Manager. I swapped over to it after I updated and didn't read the bug logs. I ended up accidently ruining my Cinnamon config and thus had an excuse to swap. I swapped to OpenBox and made my computer look a bit more like Windows 98 (as computers should be). I like the less flat design, the brick look makes everything easy to see.
- Text editing and programming
- NeoVim turned into an IDE with coc. Some would say "just use Emacs", but I like working in short sessions rather than long ones, something Emacs is not neccisarily prone to. I also like the keybindings that nvim offers (yes im aware of evil mode and god mode, but I would need to spend time setting them up). I have some compiling binds for java, latex, c++, etc., and a couple simple binds that make life over all easier. Its a text editor, not a life-style so I make it good for what it is.
- Web browser
- Tor Browser Bundle (shortened to Tor here) and Librewolf. Tor for every day, anonymous browsing, searching, and forum going. Librewolf is for logging into accounts. Librewolf, when hardened, is simple: just a vector to load web-based-programs (erroneously called Websites at times). To those claiming that "TOR IS COMPROMISED", I would like some evidence of a total and 100% compromised. If you can muster this up for me, I will cease using it. Until then, please do not spread and claim knowledge when you have none, it just makes you look like an easy to manipulate moron or an actively malicious asshole.
- File manager
- File managers, for the most part, are simply not useful. Even your terminal file manager has few reasons to exist when you have a shell language to navigate your system. Of course though, I have a file manager, pcmanfm, for the few gui programs that want drag and drop or getting a good visual overview of a file. The cli is simply much faster at navigating around the system.
- Mail client
- Luke Smith made terminal mail easy, so much so I ran his program mutt-wizard and forgot, the best type of application there can be is one that you don't notice, but can't live without. The utility even works with less-than-steller mail providers like Microsoft's Office365 and Google's Gmail (although, you should never voluntarily use that type of garbage).
- Music/audio player
- mpd + ncmpcpp is something I have recently swapped to. The Server-Client model works fine for what it is (though it does need a bit of configuring, I'd suggest just taking Luke Smith's config for starters).
- Video player
- mpv is the only good option, install it, config it, and forget. The Arch Wiki has plenty of good information on this video player.
- newsboat. It has great integration with macros, easy to edit config files, and is able to be put on a cron job with updates. My only issue is that you can only have one instance of it up at once, so when its on a cron updating your lists and you try to open it, it will fail until that cron jobs is done. I have wrote a script that deploys my Video downloading and playing system.
- Torrent client
- Tribler is my torrent client of choice. I wrote an article on it here, but to summerize: Tribler is an anonymous and decentralized torrenting client and torrent aggregator that incentivises seeding by means of faster transfers over their anonymous network. There are no fees to VPNs or anything like that, you run it, download what you want, and then just seed to others to get quality speeds.
- Video and Audio Editing
- ffmpeg for light work; shotcut and audiacity for heavy work. Not everything can be a terminal application, especially when its visual. All are comfy, all are nice to use.
- Writing documents
- LaTeX and latexmk as the compiler is the best choice for any form of formal writing. Make a template, configure it to your needs, and forget you are using LaTeX until you need to press one button to compile it. Automatic Bibliographies, mass editing, and ability to use vim as the text editor makes LaTeX my document compiler of choice. If I am forced to use a .docx format or similar, I will usually just use LibreOffice.
- None whenever possible, if you can get away with a video or just yourself, its way more impacting than some slideshow. The higher in grades you get, the less presentations you get as well. When absolutely needed though, I use LaTeX's Beamer package. When working in a group though, I am usually forced to use Google Slides (much to my dismay) for the "collaborative benefits". If there is something similar to Google Slides in collaboration, but under a libre license I would swiftly pick it up.
- Excel-like spreadsheets
- Spreadsheets are good for visualizing data, thus I don't use a terminal-based application for this. I use LibreOffice-calc, despite its bloat. If there is a good alternative to this that is very similar (including auto completion of functions, colored highlighting, etc.) I would love to adopt it.
- PDF viewer
- Zathura just works. You click on a pdf and it opens, simple as that.
- Image Viewer
- feh comes feature complete while still not being bloat. Its small and functional.
- Image editing
- GIMP for most things, but imagemagick commands for file conversions.
- I have my own Raspberry Pi running pihole that is set up to block advertisements and such, so its my main DNS. The pi-hole uses an OpenNIC DNS server for resolving addresses.
Hardware I Use
- Computer Tower
- Yes, I sadly have a prebuilt. My boomer parents bought one for me ages ago and I stuck with it. I'm not going to give up a good gift beacause "muh prebuilt status" (but I am not afraid to change out parts when need be). The parts that matter inside are as follows:
If anyone cares for more of a comprehensive breakdown, I'd be willing to post more.
- 16 GB of Ram
- AMD Ryzen 5 1600 (12) @ 3.200GHz
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- My personal laptop is a Thinkpad T420 that I got for 250 dollars, a bit overkill, but I wanted it as a mobile computing station, not a Facebook machine. If I want to render, compile, or even draw I want it to be with me on the go. I have a docking station with it that I have yet to use, but it seems like it would be nice if I am going to somewhere like a library. It runs an Intel i5, 500gb SSD, an extended battery, and a nVidia GPU. I will probably libre/coreboot my laptop when I get a chance. Old ThinkPads are designed for long term corporate use, last forever, and are made to be easy to repair and improve. They have many simple perks, like their uniquely tactile keyboards, their trackpoints and their ThinkLight (a more commonsense solution to lighting your keyboard at night).
- Hard drives
- I own a myriad of hard drives, most donations from family who pawn their old tech onto me for me to experiment with, part, and recover data from. My main hard drives are a 1 TB SSD, 2 500 GB SSDs one for my server and one for my thinkpad, and my two 1 TB HDD drives I use for backups and general storage.
- A friend of mine bought me a Tonar microphone. Don't know the model, but it works for what its supposed to be.
- As stated before, I own two Raspberry Pis (the Zero model). One runs pihole, one hosts the ipfs and tor mirror of this site.
What I don't use
- Proprietary software*
- non-IRC like and non-anonymous social medias
- If there was one things more cancerous than proprietary software, it would have to be social media. Social media is a privacy hazard that you trade your time, freedom, and attention to only to be given chains in return. It discourages moderation, it discourages productivity, discourages independent thought, and discourages searching for media to enjoy. "Sit back and consoom content" is the social media montra. I only use these trapforms in a superficial way, I will scrape art I like off twitter after going to mirror to browse it, I will keep an RSS feeds of people I care about up to date to download what I care about, I do not post on these sites, even if I do enjoy the creators of the content, I, whenever possible, try to follow alternatives/mirrors of where the content is hosted to make sure that a tech company can't siphon anything off of me. I will take what I want and give back nothing. I would hope these creators create their own websites, have RSS feeds, and be more decentralized than this, but, as of now, these massive trapforms are the only areas where you can get outreach, so they will flock to it more.
The only reason I draw an exception for non-anonymous social medias is that you aren't overtly giving up information. A *chan will have maybe your IP, browser fingerprint, and that's it. If it allows tor-posting then it is quite anonymous and interesting to go through. No names means no one is held accountable. You can say what you truly feel. The reason I give IRC-like chats a pass is due to the fact that, when a community can self-regulate, it can breed genuine relationships. I have met many people through these areas, had many long, thoughtful discussions with them, and would firmly say that they are my friends. I wish they were here so I could do more, speak to them more, and enjoy life more with them, but alas distance is a part of reality, so this must suffice.