Programs and Equipment I Use

Here are the programs I use for everything. I'm only putting here programs I consider tried and true and have used for a while.

Programs I Use


I'm about getting things done quickly and having as little space between my thoughts and actions on the computer.

I like having vim-like bindings and prefer running programs in the terminal for simplicity's sake. That said, I'm very much against the cringey meme that things in the terminal are "cooler" or "nerdier" XD. Terminals are good for most tasks, but useless for others, for example, browsing the modern web or looking at maps or images or modifying videos by NLE.

Web browser
Firefox. Subscribers will know that I've also used qutebrowser in the past. In Firefox, I use the add-on Vim Vixen to get customizable vim-like keybindings for mouse-less browsing and AdNauseam for blocking and undermining ads.
I use st (simple terminal) by, which is one of the most minimal, yet easily customizable terminal emulators in existence. urxvt (specifically rxvt-unicode) is good if you want something more conventional.
Window Manager/Desktop Environment
i3-gaps. If you want to know why my computer looks the way it does, this is what to check out.
Status bar
i3blocks, although now with more (and better) modules than that in the video there. I have modules for music/mpd, weather forecasts, unread mail in mutt, volume, internet connection, battery and time/date.
Text editing and programming
vim. Less of a text editor and more of a lifestyle. No, I'm not going to ever switch to emacs.
File manager
ranger. ranger is easily one of my favorite programs of all time. The downside is that it's written in Python, so starts up a little slow (well, several milleseconds slow), but it is very well-featured and customizable.
Mail client
mutt [1] [2]. I keep all my mail offline with offlineIMAP. Setting up the perfect terminal-based offline email system can be difficult, so I made mutt-wizard for you and me to make it easy.
Music/audio player
mpd with ncmpcpp for a library, mpv for playing songs manually when I select them in ranger.
Video player
mpv. I also use mpv for viewing gifs (with the --loop option), my webcam and watching videos or streams.
RSS reader
Torrent client
Transmission, with the transmission-remote-cli as an interface.
Video and Audio
ffmpeg is the tool I use to record all of my screencasts, and also splice and combine all of the video and audio when needed. I use Blender for making videos which would require NLE, but I always begrudge it.
Writing documents
I write documents in either R Markdown or (Xe-)LaTeX and compile them into either pdf documents or presentations after that. I also use the vim-live-latex-preview for automatic LaTeX/XeLaTeX compilation. I use pandoc for document conversion and compiling markdown to .pdfs.
suckless sent is my new favorite presentation software, which creates a presentation immediately from a plain text file. Barring that, and especially for academic presentations, I use LaTeX Beamer which you can also compile from markdown via pandoc.
Excel-like spreadsheets
sc-im for when I need a very visual interface, but I generally use R for the things one typically does in a spreadsheet. Most things you need and excel-like program for can just be done with your core utilities.
PDF viewer
zathura. I used to use mupdf, which is great too. I sometimes have evince installed because it handles comments (people in academia always use pdf comments, which annoys me to no end). If anyone knows of a better way of either viewing them in zathura or extracting them, feel free to share with me!
Image Viewer
feh. feh doesn't handle moving .gifs, so as I said above, I use mpv (on loop) for them.
Image modification
GIMP for big things, but imagemagick commands for most little modifications, filter changes, trims, etc.
Calendar, To-Do list, Appointments
calcurse for somethings, but a notepad (a literal physical notepad) for most important things. I usually write notes for my screencasts on a notepad and occasionally glance at them while recording to keep me on track.

Hardware I Use

The main laptop I use is a Thinkpad X220, released in 2011. I bought mine used on eBay for $90, and it included the ThinkPad Ultrabase, which I use at home daily (it can also hold an extra hard drive and I have a 2TB one inside). Old ThinkPads are designed for longterm corporate use, and 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). Newer ThinkPads are not as good, lacking the classical keyboards and generally being more Mac-like (unrepairable, breakable, and generally bad for an enormous price).
Hard drives
I own two Solid State Drives (SSDs), one for my main laptop (1TB) and one for my desktop OS (512GB). I think they're both "Crucial" brand. SSDs are the only thing I recommend using a good bit of money on in your computer build. They make your computer hugely snappier and apparently use less power.
I use a bargin-bin mouse and a simple old non-meme keyboard.
I record most of my videos with a Blue Yeti, which seems to be the dominant model on YouTube generally.
Logitech C920. I can record audio decent enough too, although the Yeti is better.

What I don't use

Emacs has little purpose for people who use typing window managers like I do. Emacs is also enormous, and for someone like me who often is in the habit of using my text editor to open just one file, it's massive overkill and a massive drain on time. Everything I've ever needed to do, I can do perfectly between vim and i3wm.
The suckless window manager. People often ask me to use it because it's even more minimal than i3 allegedly. Now if I were to move to dwm, I would in essence have to port my current i3-gaps setup to dwm, which would take a lot of time to get little if no benefit. Of course if someone else wants to port my i3 setup on to dwm, I might use it, but I'm not interested in investing the time myself. As far as I'm concerned, i3-gaps gives me everything I need.
A cell phone
Don't get me wrong, I own a cell phone, I just don't use it or carry it around or endorse cell phone usage generally. If you do use one, be sure to install F-Droid, which is a application manager for free software programs, and use applications only from that.

Luke Return to main page