Software and hardware
I use and recommend
I use a lot of software, most of it free and open-source. I’ve tried to use much more, but it didn’t always go so well, so I’ve made a list of the programs I like enough to recommend. Such a list has been on my website for a long time already; this is its official publication.
Last updated on 2022-12-05.
- Neovim: A modernized fork of the venerable Vim text editor, which has shaped my brain to the point that I find myself typing its commands in other applications.
- restic: Good command-line backup program. You’ll need to provide your own storage.
- Syncthing: Synchronizes folders across devices. Decentralized and easy to set up.
- tinc: Self-hosted VPN that lets you set up mesh networks. Relies on public-key cryptography to recognize its peers. Can run over TCP or UDP.
- Wireguard: Conceptually similar to tinc, but slightly easier to set up, and integrated into the Linux kernel. Only runs on UDP.
- Arch Linux: The distribution that, for me, delivers the best cost-benefit ratio. I’m not a big fan of systemd or glibc, but the fantastic package manager and the huge repositories make Arch Linux unbeatable for working techies’ day-to-day computing.
- Alacritty: Simple, lightning-fast terminal emulator with extra goodies like 24-bit colours and live configuration reloading.
- Anki: Flashcard studying software, with a big library of community-made decks. Frankly it’s not very user-friendly, but it does the job.
- EasyEffects: Real-time audio effects on Linux. I use it to tweak my headphones’ response according to the awesome AutoEQ project’s data.
- Firefox: Web browsers suck. This ones sucks the least, and is developed by Mozilla, who still seem to care about privacy and security, and who created the Rust language. Firefox has all the necessary modern features, and provides an excellent curated set of add-ons.
- i3: Lightweight window manager. Once you go tiling, you can never go back.
- KeePassXC: User-friendly open-source password manager. It stores everything in a local encrypted database file, which is your responsibility to back up and sync.
- KLayout: Open-source chip layout editor, with advanced scripting functionality. I would’ve liked some more keyboard shortcuts by default, but at least I can make my own.
- pass: Password manager for techies. It’s simple, secure, and extensible. However, I don’t think I’ll ever understand how to properly manage GnuPG keys, so I gave up and switched to KeePassXC instead.
- Sway: Another tiling window manager, originally aiming to be a clone of i3 for Wayland.
- Thunderbird: Email clients suck, just like email itself. This one just sucks less, since it’s also made by Mozilla.
- Veusz: Fantastic plotting software, and one of the most underrated open-source tools that I know of. It gives beautiful plots, can handle huge data files, and, because its files are just plain Python, you can automatically generate plots with a bit of scripting.
- Alpine Linux: Minimalist distribution powered by BusyBox and musl. It has a large-enough selection of both cutting-edge and stable packages to be practical.
- acme.sh: Straightforward tool to manage TLS certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt.
- Dante: Server for the SOCKS proxy protocol, which is directly supported by browsers.
- Dovecot: One of the, if not the most popular email IMAP server. And for good reason: it’s fast, secure, and a pleasure to set up.
- Hugo: Powerful static site generator in Go, although it’s a bit of a mess in my opinion.
- Jekyll: Another static site generator, in Ruby this time. It’s very popular for good reason, and has a wealth of plugins if you need extra features. This is what I’m currently using.
- nginx: Fast, secure and popular HTTP server used by many major websites.
- OpenSMTPD: Email SMTP server by the venerable OpenBSD project, and the only one of its kind that nails the setup experience.
- Rspamd: Spam filter for email. I haven’t looked into this one much, it has lots of advanced features that I barely understand, but still seems to be the most modern and usable spam filter out there.
- Zola: Another static site generator, written in Rust. It’s fast, flexible and stays out of your way, making it my go-to recommendation for beginners.
- LineageOS: Had enough of vendor-specific crap in Android? This open-source distribution has good hardware support and enough momentum to be the de facto standard version of Android for tinkerers.
- microG: Takes the Google out of Android by reimplementing proprietary libraries. It works very well; the only problem I’ve experienced is that push notifications take longer to arrive than usual. Installation is tricky, but they offer a custom LineageOS to make it easy.
- AdAway: Effective system-wide adblocker that should work for all your apps.
- Aegis: Secure open-source 2FA authenticator app. I was pleasantly surprised when it told to me how to get past Microsoft’s insistence on using their proprietary 2FA app.
- AnkiDroid: Good mobile frontend for Anki. Available for free on F-Droid.
- F-Droid: Like the Google Play Store, but only contains free and open-source apps.
- Insular: Isolates untrusted apps in an Android Work Profile, so they e.g. can’t read your real contacts if you give them contacts permission.
- PC Engines APU2: x86-based single-board computers designed in Switzerland. A bit pricey, but they’re clearly committed to making well-supported long-lasting hardware. Perfect for a server or router at home.
- SoloKeys: Open-source USB keys for 2FA via the FIDO standards. Their V1 products still work fine, but are effectively unsupported, as they focus their efforts on V2. This is unfortunate, but I can still recommend them. Not many websites support FIDO though…
- Gandi: European domain registrar with the motto “No bullshit since 1999”. They provide an honest, high-quality service at a competitive price. This statement is not sponsored.
- Let’s Encrypt: Provides free TLS encryption certificates to anybody who asks politely, thereby making online security more accessible for small sites like this one.