Matt Lebrun

a tapestry of hacks, experiments, discoveries, lessons, and musings of a programmer

the setup

I was browsing the social networks today and chanced upon The Setup which is a website that features interviews of people (mostly geeks) where they get to talk about what they do and then elaborate more on what tools (hardware and software) they use to get shit done. I thought, "Hey that's pretty cool.", so I read on.

As I browsed through one interview to the next I noticed that most (perhaps in the 90th percentile) are using Apple computers. Which got me to ponder whether this is just another Apple fan site. Thank goodness the author cleared this out in the about page. I was short of dismissing the site as one and hitting the close button.

The interview with ESR was one that got me thinking and write this post. Albeit, it was the trigger after a spur of collective thoughts that was running in my head as I read on the interviews of hackers and programmers that I admire.

So in the spirit of the The Setup's ethos, here's how my setup...

who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Matt Lebrun, and I fancy myself as a hybrid programmer/designer. It's a work in progress and I strive to reach that ideal everyday. I speak several (programming) languages but I love Python above all. In fact, I'm so crazy about it that I just had to spend a significant amount of free time volunteering to our local Python community.

I think I should put this in a separate about page. But since I'm lazy at moment, this will do.

what hardware do you use?

Have you heard of a programmer who does not own a computer? Yep I'm one of them. At least I used to be until a couple of months ago. For a long time, I contented myself with company issued computers until a life event forced me to buy one.

I got myself a decent Acer V5 431. It sports an IvyBridge Celeron 1007U dual-core ULV processor with internal Intel HD 4000 graphics. I also bumped up the pre-installed RAM to 8GB to make sure my VMs and numerous browser tabs are well fed. It also sports an Ultrabook-ish look that's nice to look at. It also had other nice features that I don't want to elaborate more on. Most importantly, it came with a price that didn't break the bank.

I was happily working on it for a couple of months until the awesome folks at Save22 got me a laptop of my choosing. I got myself a very sexy HP Envy 4. I use this as my primary machine now and have lent my Acer machine to my sister indefinitely.

On the mobile end, I use the 1st generation Galaxy Tab, both as a phone and tablet. I do all sorts of on-the-go stuff with it like taking pictures and videos, gaming, journaling, sketching, reading, social networking. I even code in Python on it!

and what software?

I consider Vim my wife and SublimeText2 my mistress. As I play around with sublime, the more hooked I am. Is that bad?

I used NetBeans and Eclipse once when I was teaching myself to develop Android apps. Then PhoneGap is mature enough, and there's even Kivy...

I primarily used Chrome/Chromium as my browser of choice, but the latest incarnation of Firefox rekindled my love for it. So its my primary choice now on both my PC and tablet. I just had to say that tab groups and firebug should be default for any web development.

Gnome Terminator is my terminal of choice. Split, tab, and theme your terminal to your hearts content.

I use VirtualBox heavily and run 1-3 virtual development servers at a time.

GIMP and Inkscape are my design tools of choice.

Shutter for selective screen capture. Very important for work and noting things down.

LibreOffice and Google Docs for spreadsheets and presentations.

UbuntuOne and Insync keeps my important files in the safety of the cloud.

Thunderbird organizes my Gmail, Google calendar, and Google Tasks.

Skype and Empathy for chatting and office communication.

Google contacts keeps my contacts available on both mobile and PC.

KeepassX keeps my passwords, and I got it synced on both PC and mobile.

I tweet more nowadays. Its just a more sensible social network, IMHO. My Facebook interaction is limited to the Python Users Group and posting some family photo updates.

Linux, specifically Ubuntu as my OS of choice both as my daily driver and on my VM dev servers.

My Galaxy Tab is powered by CM10.1 and it works super fine. JB 4.2.2 and kernel 3.x breathed new life to this old but trusty warrior.

what would be your dream setup?

Right now I'm very happy with my PC. Though I'm still waiting for the day where ~1.2kgs, ~0.7mm thick, 500GB SSD, 16GB RAM, ~3GHZ Quad-core CPU, ~2GB Dedicated Graphics, ~8hrs Battery, and Fully Linux compatible Ultrabooks would emerge.

I could also use a bluetooth stereo headset with mic that I can use on both my PC and tablet.

I'd also wish that Ubuntu could be a bit more up to date with the latest kernel and do a rolling release just like Arch.

If I had the budget, I'd get something like a Galaxy Note 2 or Nexus 4.