What I Use (2021)

Dev Machine, Operating system, Toys

What works on Linux?

  • Basically, EVERYTHING now! Until about a year ago, people insisted on still using Skype for Business and Cicso Webex for meetings - neither of these two dinosaurs work on Linux. But in the past 12 months, nobody has been using them, seemingly MS Teams has replaced them completely. MS Teams for Linux works flawlessly. (OK, with 1 tiny caveat)

  • I have: Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram messengers for desktop. Native desktop apps for Slack, MS Teams, Keybase, Spotify, Zoom, Discord, Postman, Steam, Virtualbox - all work 100%. Occasional shenanigans with HiDPI resolution, but nothing that can’t usually be fixed with a quick --force-device-scale-factor=2 when invoking the app.

Handy tools

  • Albert launcher - open files, web bookmarks, and applications all from a simple text launcher. Prevents SO MUCH clicking. If you haven’t tried a launcher it’s a kind of keyboard assistant. You invoke it with a quick keyboard combination (Ctrl + Space is the default) and it pops up a text search into which you can type what you want to launch. No hunting for files, bookmarks, or apps. My #1 recommendation, apart from switching to Linux.

  • CopyQ cross-platform clipboard manager, enables me to keep clipboard history and saved snippets. Can also be programmed to execute small JS macros. I use these to insert very frequently-typed phrases (mapped to Ctrl+a-number-key) and also for other handy stuff like Slugifying text:

// lowercase, replace non-word with hyphens, trim multiple hyphens, trim leading and trailing hyphens

text=str(clipboard()).toLowerCase().replace(/\W/g, "-").replace(/-+/g, '-').replace(/^-|-$/g, '')
write(0, 'text/plain', text)
copy('text/plain', text)

Password Manager

  • I’ve recently migrated from LastPass to BitWarden, on recommendation of Rob Dyke. The migration took about 5 minutes thanks to BitWarden’s LastPass account importer. I can’t find any feature missing from BitWarden that was in LastPass and the UI is definitely snappier and more modern than the slightly tired LastPass UI. It’s awesome, fully open source and I will be paying for a premium account to support the project.

Code editor, terminal

  • VS Code after previously using Atom (too buggy) and Sublime Text (not open source… and in the end everything Sublime about it is now easily available in VS Code)

  • Terminator for 4-panel terminal and lots of layout presets. I have presets for when I want one huge terminal for demoing online, and for bright outdoor sunlight!)

Languages and Frameworks


  • Reveal.js - open source, javascript based slides with lovely transitions, so many options and styles, and yet it’s quick and simple to get slides done. You can use MarkDown too!

  • Crucially, I’ve discovered a way to use Reveal.js as a Git submodule so it’s easy to upgrade the Reveal version when needed, without over-writing any of your presentation files. It also means that the only files you commit to version control are the ones you created, not the whole Reveal.js repo. This blog tells you how.

    I love that you can have slides in a completely open source, simple form, you can use any HTML, CSS, or JS tricks you want to in your slides, and you can push to GitHub Pages and get the slides hosted free, easy to share via URL, and eve each slide being addressable by specific link.

  • Google Slides - handy, but now only used when I need to collaborate on slides or when non-techs are involved.


  • Excalidraw - gorgeously implemented open source drawing tool which renders your work as cartoon-like hand-drawn XKCD comic book. Super easy to use and fast to get sketches done. Exports in various ways. Just perfection, in an open source project.

Digital Audio Workstation

  • Ardour 6.6 is just phenomenal, cross-platform, does everything that Pro Tools can do, and it costs as little as $45. It’s open source but non-free, they quite sensibly ask for a donation to get a download. You can of course build from source for free if you want. I pay a recurring donation of $4 a month and get a world-class regularly updated DAW. #supportopensource!

Video Editing

  • I’ve only recently entered the world of video editing, as I’ve started to get involved in producing some simple YouTube videos. KDEnlive is free, open source, and outstanding. In many ways it resembles the slick dark-themed UI of Ardour, and it’s very rich in features.


  • As always, Taylors Of Harrogate Hot Lava Java, but I now buy the beans in 1kg bags from Amazon. (much as I hate to put an Amazon link!)


  • Are still made of PAPER as far as I’m concerned. I have yet to find a decent e-reader that is in any way nice, and doesn’t tie one to Amazon or another online account. I want open source and Calibre integration, support for privacy and piracy and Patreon and commercial bookstores. Not a drip-feed of one company’s products, tailored for me by analytics.