Open Source Programs I Use Most Often

My Dearest Mad-Readers,

I would like to speak about my entire system’s configuration today, in terms of the programs I use the most often. I will start with the least obvious (that is the OS or Linux distribution) and go on to the most obvious (programs you run after the booting process is complete). I split this article into 3 main sections:

  1. My system
  2. Terminal-based software
  3. GUI-based software

A Quick Word Of Apology

Before going any farther into the video, I would like to apologize for the awful sound quality in my last 2 videos. I recorded with audacity for the first time and, as you certainly all heard, I struggled finding my way around it. I only got one comment telling me how terrible the sound was but I need to say I am very sorry ^_^

The Overall Configuration Of My System

My computer is a refurbished Thinkpad T440. I have had it for almost 2 years and am still extremely satisfied with its overall performance. It originally shipped with Windows 10 but I removed it for Manjaro Linux. At this point however, I am no longer running Manjaro. If you have been following me for the past few months, you will be aware that I switched to Gentoo in October 2020.

Regarding the boot loader, I use GRUB (Grand Unified Boot Loader) like approximately 90% of Linux users. I know there are some other great boot loaders out there but I am not sold yet. It is easily installable and customizable, so I do not yet see a point in switching away from it, except for the accusation that it is bloat software.

You may be surprised with this, but I do not have a display manager (also known as login manager). I used to have LXDM (which ships with LXDE desktop environment) but I had some issues with it, so I got rid of it. Today, I only have the xorg-xinit package installed. It offers the startx command and I am very happy with it. It does have a dark appearance but it does the job. After all, I do not turn on my computer to masturbate on the login area.

Again, If you have been following me for at least a few months, you will already know which window managers I prefer: Dwm and Awesome WM. As I am writing this, I actually have not turned on dwm in a week. I tend to go back and forth between the 2 of them, however. They both have their ups and downs. I like the interface of Awesome better, but I still feel like my dwm is much more customized, since I have spent more time making it my own. I also met with more difficulty. Awesome is very straightforward to configure in comparison.

Terminal-based Programs

I have 2 terminal emulators on my main machine: St (the simple terminal) and Alacritty, which is a more modern terminal emulator written in Rust. You probably all are familiar with the tendency to re-write all programs in Rust these days. Well, the fact that I installed Alacritty does not mean that I support this movement. I only wanted to test out something new and have a spare terminal in case one stops working properly.

My main shell is Zsh (the Z Shell). I also have Bash installed because I write all my scripts in bash. This is for one reason and one reason only: portability. It is much more likely that you will have Bash as your main shell since it is the one which comes by default on most machines. I see it as a norm, and it also is the one I learned first. For browsing in my terminal, I would much rather use Zsh however, since it is much more modern but also more powerful in terms of command completion. That is reason enough.

Moc is not the best terminal-based music player on the market but I love it. This is why I have never turned my back on it and do not intend to do it. If it is not the best objectively, but it is what matches my expectations best. I did try other music players such as musikcube or cmus, but they have not convinced me. Moc allowed me to listen to music in the terminal when I still was a very beginner, and no program can rivalise with this, even if it is 100 times better.

I recently started reading RSS feeds. This mainly is because I listen to good feedback from my subscribers, and when one of you told me to install newsboat… Well, so I did. I was easily convinced, let me tell you: thanks to newsboat, I can watch my favorite YouTube content creators’ videos directly from my terminal. I have everything in the same place: my YouTube subscriptions, the blogs and news feeds I am the most interested in following. Everything. It also has a great advantage: I consume less content from YouTube. This allows me to spend more time doing more important things, such as creating content for this channel.

Another program I use a lot is my text editor: I run vim and neovim interchangeably and with the exact same configuration. Most often I just edit markdown files (when I need to jot down notes, for instance) but I also use LaTeX to edit more important documents, such as books or short stories. I happen to be more of a writer than a programer, which is probably why I enjoy shell scripting so much more than spending hours working on hundreds of lines of code.

For adding subtitles and extracting audio tracks from videos, ffmpeg is my best friend. I no longer use it to shoot my videos but it is really nice to have it around when more modern GUI-based programs over-complicate things too much. With ffmpeg, you just throw one command into your terminal and ***poof!***, you are done.

Regarding all the terminal commands I use the most, I am not going to list them all here. Neofetch, vifm, youtube-dl, ncdu, bat, cat, grep, xbacklight, alsamixer, htop, dmenu, man… It would certainly take the whole day if I went on and I would probably even forget things. If you are interested in reading such an article however, leave a comment below!

GUI-based Programs (With Graphical User Interface)

When I am not roaming about in alacritty or st, I usually fire up my web browser and my emails. I have several browsers installed on my main machine: brave, qutebrowser, firefox. Each I use for a different purpose. I do most of my browsing with brave, since it is fast and, as far as I can tell, secure.I keep the qutebrowser clean of any tabs for my videos. This way, my spectators’ view does not get polluted by everything I do online. Finally, I have Firefox for all web apps which I use but do not trust 100%. Those which rely on the middle ware, for instance, such as Google-based apps, YouTube, Zoom, and so on. Having several browsers also allow me to perform tests when programming.

Regarding my emails: I still am a rather faithful Thunderbird user. Thunderbird does way too much, however. I only use it for emails, and it is a bit of a waste. I have been looking for a replacement for a while. I have considered Gnome Evolution and Alpine (Terminal-based) to replace it but, as of today, I have not moved on to anything new.

When it comes to creating content, I have several programs:

  1. Aegisub: Editing and timing subtitles.
  2. Kdenlive: Video editing, adding effects, music, etc.
  3. Obs: Filming my screen (or with my webcam), recording my voice.
  4. Audacity: Recording my voice and increasing the quality of the audio with effects such as compressing

When I do not create content, I enjoy consuming it with vlc or mpv,which both are media players. Both work with and without a GUI. By the way, I highly recommend cvlc and nvlc, the latter being vlc with an ncurses interface.

Since I also write blog posts (as you all know), I need something such as LibreOffice Writer to edit them on my local machine. Keeping them on WordPress only would not be very responsible of me.

I do have other programs such as Zeal (for offline documentation), pavucontrol (to manage sound), and other I might have forgotten, but I do not open them everyday.

Conclusion & Sign-Off

I hope you all enjoyed this little overview of my system and software. If you have any suggestions, whether it be terminal or gui-based, feel free to shoot a comment.

Cheers,

Phil.