This is a living document in the spirit of uses.tech and Uses This where you’ll find a rough rundown of the hardware and software that makes up my daily working stack, and (where relevant), what my dream setup would be (in my current state of mind, at least!). If you’re looking for what hardware my boat uses, instead, see her dedicated page.
I’m constantly changing my setup and tinkering with things on a monthly or at least quarterly basis in some form or another. The history of this page is all in version control, that history may be useful or entertaining or both.
Most recent update:
Primary Desktop Setup
For those curious, the hostname is
woods, after the Bon Iver song.
Beelink GTR6 (AMD 6900HX, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD). It’s not perfect by any means - the fans are loud as hell and there’s a really bizarre USB-induced stutter every so often that causes audio and input device dropouts. Speaking of USB, there’s not nearly enough ports, either. But it gets the job done, and draws a relatively modest 30-50W under typical loads, compared with 120W+ at idle on the ITX rig this mini-PC replaced (though compared to 28W at full tilt for modern ARM machines, it’s still hefty). I will likely, some day, look to replace this to resolve the noise and power draw concerns, but I’m not in a huge rush.
This machine runs Void Linux x86_64-glibc (for now) on a ZFS root.
My dream device in this category...I'm not even sure any more - I guess give me an ARM64 or RISC-V rig with 32-64GB of RAM and a GPU capable of playing things no more intensive than Minecraft, and make it draw less than 30W at full tilt. Now make it run Linux and/or FreeBSD and/or OpenBSD well, and let it be powered off DC easily to avoid AC inversion costs in DC-native environments. At this point, the only currently-available devices that would fit the bill are probably the Qualcomm-based Windows Dev Kit 2023 ("Volterra"), which until very recently had nightmarish problems booting Linux, and a Mac Mini with a modded power supply (which still requires tons of work from the Asahi crew to be usable, so it's a bold bet). Or maybe one of those mythical RK3588-based SBCs that all seem to be vaporware...
LG DualUp Monitor. I have the one with the less-fancy stand because the “normal” stand works better on the boat currently - though some day, I’d love to have that Ergo Stand and somewhere to mount it. Anyway, the 8:9 aspect ratio took some getting used to, but it’s absolutely incredible. Think of this monitor as 2x 21.5” 2560x1440 monitors stacked vertically with no bezel between. I can fit an obscene amount of stuff onto the screen at a time, but it takes up tons less physical space than the 34” 21:9 monitors I used to use.
My dream device in this category...I've been saying for years my ideal setup would probably be two e-ink displays of reasonable size, and an OLED display for watching video or otherwise colorized or high framerate content. I'm still interested in trying this, but every time I poke at Dasung and Boox's offerings in the standalone e-ink monitor space, they're just so horribly expensive that I can't justify the things, especially with enough physical screen space to be useful to me for dev work (2x 13" or one 21" or bigger panel). This DualUp has more than exceeded expectations so far, so for as long as I'm on the IPS/LCD screen train, I think this DualUp (and maybe a second one in the future) actually already meets the bill for a dream setup.
My input devices are a Keebio Iris keyboard running my own KMK firmware (this Iris was built in 2018 and has survived mostly unmodified since then, still using the original Hako Royal Clear switches; only the microcontroller has been upgraded, to a ItsyBitsy nRF52840), and a Ploopy Classic trackball (which runs whatever the default firmware was). Occasionally I’ll also pull out my Apple Magic Trackpad 2 in space gray.
This category is probably the most likely to change soon: the keyboard is likely to get replaced by either a Corne LP or a MoErgo Glove80. Both use low-profile switches, which I’d like to give a whirl to reduce typing fatigue. Those “Choc” switches are also used in the MNT Reform laptop (see below).
My webcam is some Aluratek “4K” thing I bought for about 7 billion dollars during the lockdowns when there was a run on webcams, my microphone is an Elgato Wave 3, my desk lamp is just horribly named but works great.
Bulk storage is on three Samsung T7 Shield SSDs (2x 2TB, 1x 4TB), all running ZFS.
I technically have three of these, all in various states of dysfunction:
A Samsung Chromebook Pro from 2017, which was bootloader-unlocked, made to run Coreboot, and runs Void Linux x86_64-musl. While the 3:2 aspect ratio has always been incredible, the keyboard has always been unbearable in both size/layout and feel, and at this point, the 4GB of RAM and extremely slow Skylake m3 processor make the system largely unusable for “real work”. It can run one or two tabs in Firefox before some start getting OOM-killed. Despite this, it’s been my primary portable machine since the death of my XPS 13 some time in 2021, and was briefly my primary portable machine in 2017-18 prior to that XPS.
A MNT Reform which has had a rather perilous life so far (first, having the display chip fried shortly after assembly, and second, fully discharging its battery cells due to lack of use for a month or two and predating the protected battery boards that prevent such discharge). It’s never actually been used outside the house yet, and I wish I had the time to change that right now, but I don’t. Most recently it ran 9front so I could play with that. (I’m not smart enough to understand Plan9, I think. Or it doesn’t fit my ideals of UX. Or maybe both.)
A Lenovo C630 fold-back Qualcomm-based ARM laptop. It has at various points run Gentoo and Void Linux, but it’s never been usable in any state that wasn’t plugged into a USB-C dock with ethernet. It’s been completely unused since late 2020, so at this point I doubt the battery works, and the OS will need fully re-imaged. (If you, dear reader, can put this thing to better use, it’s yours for the price of shipping anywhere in the US).
I HATE SMARTPHONES.
I WANT ALL SMARTPHONES TO DISAPPEAR.
I HATE MOSTLY-HAVING TO OWN ONE TO LIVE IN MODERN SOCIETY.
I HATE WHAT THEY’VE DONE TO MODERN SOCIETY.
Okay, now with that out of my system… I currently use a Moto G Stylus 2022 because it’s what I could reasonably source locally on short notice (that would have an unlockable bootloader) when my old Pixel 4a’s GSM radio kicked the bucket and refused to stay connected to towers anymore (the USB-C port was pretty shot, too). Ironically, I’ve never had time to bother with de-Googling this phone so the unlockable bootloader became moot anyway. This is the first phone I’ve used the stock Google Creepware ROM on since 2017, and it comes with some serious ups and downs. It brings two Nolan Lawson articles 12 to front of mind, for sure.
Also somewhere in my piles of rotting tech shit are the old Pixel 4a (I thought I’d want to pull files off of it, in almost a year now I never have bothered), three PinePhones (they’re all slow, fragile, horrible shit, on both the hardware and much of the software sides, don’t buy them), some other old Moto phone I killed, and… probably other stuff. Cell phones are by far the most fragile tech gear I’ve ever encountered: I’ve probably killed a dozen or so in the past decade, and at this point I buy the cheap shit I know is only designed to last a year or two anyway, because I know from experience that not even the more expensive stuff outlives it anyway.
Ahhhhh this rabbit hole. I’ve dabbled with everything from onboard headphone jacks on terrible PC motherboards to headphones that retail for $4k USD. These days my stack sits between those extremes, and is a series of compromises mandated by cost, space, and power usage (the latter two particularly being functions of my living space on a sailboat).
I use four IEMs:
… through two dongle-style DAC/amps:
It does the job given the circumstances. I’ve grown to miss over-ear headphones, though - I still own HifiMan Sundaras and might get back into them soon.
I had a “my dream setup” section written here, but (1) my markdown processor
chokes on handling markdown inside a
<details> element (presuming, I guess,
that it’s not markdown inside an HTML element), and (2) it was half as long as
this entire page, so I’ll kick that to its own article at some point. tl;dr:
Over-ear headphones, but not those that break the bank - or my neck.
As a non-exhaustive list:
- Linux as my OS on effectively everything, somehow or another
- neovim and helix, for text editing
- sway, for window management
- cmus, for music playing
- newsboat, for feed reading
- I basically hate all chat apps these days, but by choice or by force I can generally be found on Matrix, Discord, IRC, Slack, Zulip. 3 For IRC I use catgirl.
… and whatever else you find in my dotfiles.
I tend to build software using (in no particular order): Rust, Zig, Python, TypeScript, and plain old shell scripts. Oh, and I’m working on my own language, too, I guess.
And of course all of these require separate windows on my screen these days because the golden era of using Pidgin to merge all protocols into one sensible UI is long gone (in Discord’s case, you’ll get banned for even trying, which IMO should be damn near criminally chargeable for a company to enforce). ↩