Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Personal Computer Setup

Just in case this is interesting to somebody, I figured I'd post information on my computer's software environment.  As mentioned in a previous post, I'm big into applications which radically apply the Unix Philosophy.  Such apps are incredibly minimal and have a very tight focus.

My operating system of choice is Gentoo, a distribution of GNU/Linux.  I find it gives ridiculous control over one's own system.  It makes it easy to keep your system slim and streamlined by eliminating unneeded dependencies and options.

I don't use a "desktop environment" such as KDE, Gnome, or XFCE.  I opt for a simple window manager known as "dwm." The folks at produce and maintain some of the best software available and dwm is no exception. Like much of the software, dwm is configured in C and recompiled to apply the configuration (a process which Gentoo makes simple.)

I currently use the text editor Vim.  I don't use GVim, however.  I find it's just extra cruft.  Vim is even a bit heavy for me, and I'm looking for better alternatives.  The inclusion of features such as tabbing, syntax highlighting, and spell checking hooks makes it less in line with the Unix Philosophy than I'd like.  I've looked into nvi and elvis, but both lack the ability to add new features such as syntax highlighting. I did recently hear about sandy, however, and am interested in giving it a trial run sometime soon.

My email client is mutt.  Again, it's a bit hefty for my taste.  I intend to switch to something else sometime soon.  Perhaps nmh.

My browser is surf.  I recently switched from uzbl.  Both are excellent browsers.  Uzbl is probably a bit more configurable, but surf is definitely more minimal and arguably more unixy.  Surf doesn't have any ability to do tabbing.  For that, I use tabbed.

My terminal emulator is st.  It's maintained by the good folks over at (you guessed it)  It's extremely simple, but more than sufficient for every day use.  The next release is slated to support xembed, making it possible to use it in tabbed and other such programs.

For my terminal multiplexer, instead of screen or tmux, I use dvtm.  It doesn't include detaching functionality as screen or tmux does.  For that, I use dtach.  Dvtm has a considerably cleaner scripting interface than the others, among other things.

My irc client is currently Irssi.  It's also a bit less in line with the Unix Philosophy than I'd like.  A better alternative that I'm looking into is combining ii, pcw, srw, and dvtm.  It's proved so far to be rather difficult, actually.  (The difficulty may end up being the subject of a later post.)  I may instead go with ii, pcw, srw, st, and tabbed sometime in the future.

Of the software that I use, those are certainly the most important.  Hopefully this will point somebody toward some useful software.

Good day, and happy hacking!

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