Posted on Sep 4, 2011

Inspired by The Setup and Pratul’s post, here is how I ‘get my work done’.


I currently use a four-core i7 15" Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. I love it. For backups I have a Western Digital 160GB hard drive. I use cheap Skullcandy earphones when I need them (I usually prefer speakers).

Operating System

I used to be on Arch Linux until I got the MBP. Now I use OS X Snow Leopard. I still run Arch + KDE on a VirtualBox instance to occasionally hack on KDE. With 8GB of RAM, both keep running snappy :)

Running OSX might come as a surprise considering my FOSS roots. But my software stack is such that it makes no difference what UNIX I use really.


Considering I use the computer all day, the number of applications I actually run is tiny.

I use Firefox for browsing. I hide all chrome except the tab bar, and use the excellent Pentadactyl extension to get vim key bindings and other keyboard driven goodness to Firefox.

For viewing PDFs, I use Preview. The rare photo management is done with iPhoto. Music needs are satisfied with Clementine (my iTunes resides in the Trash), while VLC handles video.

I do use the excellent Notational Velocity for note taking and idea jotting and the like. It fast, it stays out of the way and is easy to sync if I have to.

iCal, synced with Google Calendar, is used for todos and submission reminders.

And that is all the GUI apps I usually run. Which is why it doesn’t matter what UNIX I use, since most of my work is in the shell.

Office suite you say? I find Google Docs suffices, to the point that if somebody sends me MS formats, I upload them to Google Docs. The Gmail web interface is also unbeatable so mail stays there.

Accessories include Dropbox, Temperature Monitor Lite, gfxCardStatus to manually control which graphics card is in use, ShiftIt to position windows, afloat to allow ‘Always on Top’ like KWin, Growl for notifications and Tunnelblick for VPN management.

Now we come to the terminal. My terminal emulator is iTerm. I have only one window running maximized, with tmux acting as my ‘window manager’ for shells. It has a slightly customized statusbar, with the solarized colour scheme. The shell is zsh with a custom zshrc based on stuff I pick up around the Internet, with the zsh-git prompt.

This exact same terminal configuration is also available in the Linux VM (including vim configuration) so that I don’t need to switch my behaviour for the different OSes.

For IRC I use irssi although I use it as a total newbie.

And the rest of my day is spent in vim. I do all my long writing in vim — code, articles, blog posts, configuration files — everything. I use the molokai theme rather than solarized for the editor.

Vim plugins

First Tim Pope’s pathogen is indispensible to easily manage other plugins.

a.vim is a convenient little script to toggle between headers and sources.

ack.vim allows the invocation of ack from vim and presents the results in the Quickfix buffer. I map the keystroke ‘sd’ to ack.vim.

fugitive is useful for Git integration with vim, but I don’t use it that much yet except to do blames.

fuzzyfinder is another indispensible script for me. I map ‘sf’ to fuzzyfinder so I can quickly invoke that.

Other plugins I use include nerdcommenter and vim-surround.

My Dream Setup

I would love a standing desk in my hostel room with an external monitor connected to my laptop, the way I worked at Mozilla. I am considering buying a Netgear Ultra 2 NAS to have redundant storage and sharing. Otherwise the MBP works great and is sufficient for now.

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