Jan-Lukas Else

Thoughts of an IT expert

What Does My Software Setup Look Like?

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I recently got a new (refurbished) notebook and already wrote a post about that, but this time, I would like to focus on my software setup. What programs do I use for developing? What do I use for writing? And what is my favorite web browser?

But first let’s start with the Operating System:

Operating System: Solus

I love Linux and I’m already on the Linux site for a few years. I used Windows for a long time (since I was a child) but eventually ran into problems very often and often without any obvious reasons. Once I got a trojan software, which tried to convince me, that I was doing illegal things and wanted money from me. The other time the trackpad on my notebook didn’t work anymore, without me changing anything. Windows is often very unpredictable and anoying, especially when it comes to installing updates.

After all those pain, I finally decided to switch to Linux. I heard many good things about it and already tried it a few times on other machines or in vitual boxes. There was the time to finally switch to it full-time.

But because I was quite new in the Linux space, I first needed to try a lot of things. I did “distro-hopping” (switching between different Linux distributions) for some time and explored all the differences between all those different distributions from Ubuntu to Mint to Elementary OS to Manjaro until I finally landed for Solus, which I’m now already using for more than a year. It wasn’t rarely, that I also switched systems, because I destroyed my setup with trying too many things, installing incompatible updates etc. But thanks to Linux the install time was minimal.

In contrast to most of the other mentioned systems, Solus isn’t based on another system, like Ubuntu or Mint are, but is written from Scratch. Sure, it uses the Linux Kernel, but it has it’s own package manager, it’s own architecture and also it’s own desktop environment (Budgie). This removes a lot of clutter and makes, that it’s developers don’t have to care about the system it’s based on and so enables faster development. Also because of it’s own package manager and the inexistence of alternative repositories, it’s much harder to break the system, because all packages in the repository are tested.

Another good thing about Solus is, that it’s a rolling release OS, so it’s possible to get the latest Kernel revision shortly after it’s release. Also most of the other software is up-to-date, but stable though.

As dektop environment I used the Solus-own Budgie Desktop for a long time, because it’s simple to use and has an awesome design. On my new notebook I use Gnome, because it’s better compatible with touch displays.

Browser: Firefox

I was a Chrome user for a long time. Chrome was the fastest browser on most systems and I liked it’s integration into the Google ecosystem. I was able to sync the passwords with my phone and also bookmarks and even the history was easily shared between devices and without installing some addons.

But when I realized how bad I treated my privacy with using all those Google services, I also realized, that it’s pretty hard to escape Google when using Chrome. It was just that Mozilla released Firefox 57 a.k.a Firefox Quantum, which brought huge performance improvements and I decided to try the switch. I didn’t regret it and I don’t want to switch back. I love Firefox. It isn’t as slow anymore as it was before, sometimes it’s even faster than Chrome and it also has the features to sync bookmarks, history etc. Because I also switched to an external password safe (Bitwarden), I also didn’t need the password synchronization feature anymore.

I recently also set up my own sync server for even more privacy.

Office: Libre Office

Because Microsoft Office is so expensive I already use Libre Office for a very long time. With Libre Office (in the beginning I used Open Office) has all the features I need (from document editing to preparing presentations). And the best: It’s free. No need to care about Licence keys and the need to buy a new one when the next major release comes out. Or even worse: The need to pay for it on a yearly base. Libre Office is made by volunteers and is open source. I love open source, so I use Libre Office.

Thanks to my university, I also have an installation of Microsoft Office 2016 in a VirtaulBox Linux, but that’s just for very rare cases.

Development: Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, Visual Studio Code

I mainly use three IDEs. Android Studio for Android development. And IDEA or Visual Studio Code for other things, based on my requirements for each project.

Android Studio is based on IDEA and is the official IDE for Android development offered by Google. It has all the features you need for coding Android Apps, it even supports my preferred programming language Kotlin. Compared to Eclipse, IDEA has a much cleaner and nicer UI, which makes finding things much easier. It also looks more beautiful in my opinion. I also have access to almost all JetBrains IDEs for free, thanks to their educational license.

I don’t use Visual Studio Code for a long time, but when I discovered it and when I noticed, that it’s open source I started loving it. I tried many code editors like Atom or Brackets, but Visual Studio Code is my clear favorite.

Productivity: Todoist

Ok, this isn’t actually a program, but it’s a website and my favorite productivity tool. I use Todoist to keep track of all the things I have to do and even manage appointments with it. Todoist let’s me manage tasks in projects and give it labels and date to which I have to complete them. With it’s Karma system it’s also motivating the user to get things done. (I also used Todoist to set a task to finish this post.)

Writing: Ghostwriter

For writing, I’m using the web editor of the platform I publish most of the time. But when this isn’t possible (because I’m in the train and the WiFi really sucks), I usually do that in a program called Ghostwriter. Ghostwriter is a minimal editor, that let’s you edit Markdown in a stupid simple interface with features like Hemingway mode (where you should first write and then edit) or a focus mode, which greys out everything except the current sentence. I use Markdown most of the time, because it’s a simple way to add formattings with simple text and it is much cleaner than HTML for the purpose of adding links or formattings like bold or italic text.

Do you think I missed anything?

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Jan-Lukas Else
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