My software stack revisted – Intro

A little more than a year and a half ago, I wrote a post with the title “My software stack”.

When I wrote that post I was still studying at the IT University, and the post was aimed at fellow students, attempting to distill what I had come to learn, what software I had come to use, which could be of use to others as well.

Time pass, things change, I’m no longer studying, so I thought it might be interesting to revisit the subject. To see what has changed, what has remained the same.

More than that, re-reading the original post, I see that I list many libraries that I’ve since only used once or twice. It’s not that these are useless in any way, far from it, I stand by my recommendations about them, it’s just that for the types of things I do, I have not found much use for them.

So I can’t really say that they’re a part of my software stack. And that is one thing I aim to improve this time around. Instead of writing about the software stack I wish I had, I will try to restrict myself to presenting the software I have used at least more than three times.

Instead of my usual style of writing (a great big wall of text) I’ll do this as a series of posts instead, and this first post will lay the foundation of my software stack: the operating system and relevant environment.

So without any further ado, the base software:

Operating system

I have now replaced Ubuntu with ArchLinux, as Ubuntu once replaced Windows XP. As with the switch from Windows to Ubuntu, I find I don’t have much to complain about in the predecessor, it is just that the successor is better.

Ubuntu is still a great distribution, and I would recommend it over ArchLinux for newcomers to the GNU/Linux world. It’s just that I don’t feel like a newcomer anymore.

Ubuntu is absolutely the easiest GNU/Linux distribution I have tested, with sane user-friendly default settings. And it works well as is.

But I have come to the point that I feel confident that I can do a better job at selecting what software I want installed in my system, than Canonical can do for me. And I’d rather spend the time assembling these, than uninstalling stuff from Ubuntu, and their dependencies, and their dependencies and… you get my point.

My second largest reason may well have evaporated now that Canonical seems to be making Ubuntu a rolling release as well. I’m happy about this, because Ubuntu isn’t completely out in the cold, but more on that later.

Window manager

Ever since pesa installed wmii on my old laptop, I was hooked. wmii is a tiling window manager which tries it damnedest to maximize the use of the available screen area. And it kicks ass at doing it.

Sadly I could never get it to work at all in Ubuntu (except for the one time when pesa installed it for me). In Arch it might have taken half an hour to get set up and configured. Small tweaking to get it just right took longer, but it was worth it.

If you, like me, try to spend as much time as possible in a terminal, you are bound to like wmii. GUI-applications work just as well, of course, but they seem to always claim more screen real estate than they need, so better to just stick them in a tag (virtual desktop for you non-wmii-users) on their own and let them occupy all the screen space they want.

Terminal and shell

Since all the cool kids these days are using rxvt-unicode I guess so am I ;)

And despite two attempts to make friends with zsh, I always end up coming back to bash.

I guess that’s all for now. The next post will be about (multi)media and entertainment.


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