Software I use
OS: GNU/Linux (specifically NixOS)
So I've been using Linux for a while now (I know it's GNU/Linux but I'll call it Linux just for simplicity). Like most other people, I started off on Windows, but then switched to Linux and have stayed on it ever since. I first switched because I liked Solus's interface a lot, and after trying it out on a live USB stick I liked it so much so I just installed it. Nowadays I choose it over Windows and MacOS for a lot of reasons, include:
- Linux is free: One of the main philosophies of GNU/Linux is that it's free, and not in the way that you think. Of course it is free as in zero cost, but also free as in all (most) of the code is licensed under a free license, and readily avaiable for the public to look over and modify. This is a whole other world to dive into, but basically, this lets you insure your OS is secure, not spying on you, and if there are any changes you dislike, you can just change them yourself.
- Customizability: Linux being free gives you far more control over your OS. On Windows I was either forced to pay $120 for a license, or live with a watermark in the corner at all times and far fewer interface customization options. Of course you can always pirate these licenses, but I don't think people should need to commit a crime to have a decent OS. On Linux I can basicically change whatever I want, which is a really nice to have feature. I've chosen and modified my own window manager, terminal, text editor, and a bunch of other stuff that is locked behind an iron wall in Windows and MacOS.
- Great software: one of the biggest complaints for Linux is that it doesn't support a bunch of software. While this is somewhat true (a lot of the apps you think aren't suppported probably have some workaround on Linux), the majority of the time, Linux has an alternative that is as good, or usually better than what's on Windows. For example, the password manager I use on a daily basis, pass is (as far as I know) only avaiable on Linux, and much better than any other proprietary password manager I've used before on Windows. I'll go more into good software I use later in the article.
- Secure: Linux being open source makes it inhererently more secure than closed source operating systems. When you have thousands of eyes scrutinizing a codebase, you are much more likely to find and fix any potential security bugs. Linux's is also just more secure by default. This video is a good explanation.
- Minimal: one of my biggest issues with Windows is that it is bloated and contains a ton of junk I don't want. It even has ads in the start menu. Sure, you can take them out, but that shouldn't even be an issue you have to go out of your way to solve. Windows is also a total resource hog. I tested out a completely fresh install of Windows in a VM, and the first boot took around 2 GB of RAM with no apps open other than Task Manager. My install of NixOS with dwm regularly uses 300-350 MB of RAM on a fresh boot.
I tend to go for stuff that follows the Unix philosophy: do one thing, and do it well. Here's a list of regular OS utilities I use:
- Window manager: dwm. It does what I want it to do, with no hassle or bloat.
- Terminal emulator: st. It's not perfect, but good enough for me and does what it needs to.
- Text editor: neovim. Vim is great, and neovim is even better. I love the Lua configuration, native LSP, keybinds, and so much other stuff.
- File browser: GNU coreutils (ls, mv, etc). I don't really see a need for a file browser, just using the terminal tends to be faster for me.
- Web browser: I bounce between Firefox and Brave Browser. Both are open-source and relatively privacy-respecting out of the box, but neither are perfect. I like Firefox for its Reader Mode, customizability, and about:config options. I like Brave for it's BAT system, Speedreader, and out-of-the-box ad-blocking.
- Shell: zsh. Honestly, I just use it because I like how it looks. It has some annoying things and I'll probably replace it some day.
- Crypto: the only thing that isn't open source on this list: Exodus wallet. I really like the interface, and it's non-custodial, meaning no KYC and higher security than exchanges like Coinbase.
- Other stuff: mpv for videos, zathura for PDFs, and newsboat for RSS feeds. I don't use these very often though.