Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My computer setup

In this post, I will share how my 2020 computer setup looks (hardware and software). It will be interesting to read this in a few years to see how things may have changed.


I do 100% of my work on my laptop without using an external keyboard, monitor, or mouse. This gives me maximum portability. I can work anywhere: in a cafe, on an airplane, at the desk or on a sofa. My laptop is DELL XPS-13, which is very slim and lightweight. It is great for travel, and I have it in my backpack pretty much wherever I go. Performance-wise (I am doing a lot of compiling), it is pretty decent with i7 CPU, 16Gb of RAM, and SSD. Display quality is important to me, and Dell's 4920x2160 built-in HDPI display is very sharp and bright. I am not very happy with the keyboard and the touchpad, but I can live with it. The only external hardware I occasionally use is a 23-inch external monitor in portrait mode. I use it for convenience when I work on papers to preview my writing, showing a full page of LaTeX-generated PDF.


I am using the Ubuntu LTS release. I know there are cooler/more open Linux distros, but I need to balance tweaking my OS and getting actual work done. My hard drive is encrypted, in case my laptop is lost of stolen.

I am using `i3` window manager. It took me some time to customize it the way I want it to behave, but since I've switched to it was the most significant recent software-related productivity improvement. Virtual screens, keyboard shortcuts, efficient use of screen real estate allows me to be very productive.

I am using a `fish` shell. I like its interactive features and nice look-and-feel I have carved for myself using `omf` packages. However, I do not use it for scripting. In rare cases, when I need to do shell scripting, I use `bash.`

For almost three decades, my text editor is `emacs.` I am using many emacs packages, but if I have to name a few which I use the most, they are `helm,` `magit,` and `org-mode.` I use a solarized dark color theme in emacs, shell, and window manager.

My web browser is Firefox. Among a few extensions I use, `LastPass` is worth  mentioning.

Media processing:

At my home office I have a separate Mac Mini with 28-Inch 4k UHD Monitor, which I use solely for photo and video processing and video conferencing (due to "nose cam" on my Dell Laptop). The media processing software I use is Adobe Lightroom (standalone version) and Apple iMovie.

P.S. I may write a follow-up post about online services I use.