Here’s a list of tools I cast essential for carrying out my day-to-day business or I find otherwise useful.

Hardware (in no particular order)**


  • My primary workstation is a HP Pavillion Slimline, a pretty much standard, off-the-shelf PC on which I installed Ubuntu Linux. The hardware works reasonable well under Linux, but at some point I wish hardware vendors would just offer some models which work seamlessly with any major OS. Anyhow, the desktop has 3 GB of RAM and 500 GB hard disk. Nothing really special, it does it’s job and is about a year old, now. It is complemented by a 21” Dell LCD monitor and the other usual peripherals. By the way, once you’ve used laptops for your daily work for so long that you don’t even realize how small your screen actually is, you will appreciate the decently sized monitor of your new desktop.
  • Other than my desktop computer, I use an Asus eeePC netbook when traveling or at my office at work or at university and sometimes my old Toshiba laptop I run Debian on. The netbook has very decent Linux compatible hardware. Mainly because it came with some Linux preinstalled – I guess is was some weird Xandros. That wasn’t quite it for my netbook – I found it very limiting – so I installed Ubuntu on it using the custom kernel and the netbook remix software package. This works reasonable well for me.

Software (in no particular order)

  • Linux (and the various standard *NIX tools): I like open-source and I like to have the opportunity to debug my OS, so I’m using Linux (Debian and Ubuntu) for the most part. I found it frustrating at times when I was a Windows user and something stopped working from one day to the next. Although it was mostly me why things broke, I still had no reasonable way of undoing/fixing things. Well, at least not nearly as nicely as I can fix and analyze things on my Linux boxes. My mind wanders…
  • Gnome Terminal: Bash to be precise. I’m using Bash on a daily basis and I don’t want to live without it anymore. It just helps getting your work done.
  • Screen: A quite handy tool for multiplying your screen when working remotely on a machine via SSH.
  • Mozilla Firefox: The first thing I’m starting once logged on to my computer is a Web browser. No matter if I’m debugging some CSS or asynchronous HTTP request or if I’m just reading my favorite paper, Firefox is the tool of choice.
  • Firebug: Number 1 Web developer tool. I haven’t seen a better tool, yet.
  • Ad-block Plus: The online world is just not bearable without it.
  • It’s all text!: This one is also a quite handy add-on if you were to write text/code in HTML textareas a lot. By using It’s all text! you can load the content of any textarea into your favorite text editor (GVIM in my case), edit it and save it back into the appropriate textarea of the Web page.
  • Vmplayer and qemu: These tools are just nice for the occasional boot into a clean Linux sandbox or testing some IE stuff on Windows. I use qemu to create the bare vmdk disks and use vmplayer to play them. VirtualBox is also a nice alternative.
  • Eclipse (with RadRails, and other plugins): When doing some programming in Java, Python, Rails or C I use Eclipse for the most part augmented with quite a few VIM here and there.
  • VIM: For writing Latex, BASH scripts, code  or for any other use of plain text processing, VIM is my tool of choice.
  • XChat: My preferred X IRC client
  • Evolution: A quite reasonable choice for doing all my email work. I chose Evolution, since it has a calendar integrated, but I’m not sure if Mozilla Thunderbird with Google Calendar wouldn’t work quite as well.
  • Latex: Either for writing articles, assignments, theses. It’s simply a nice layout.
  • Inkscape: Sometimes when there some vector drawings to create (such as the MarkUs logo :-))
  • GIMP: For my very basic image manipulation needs.
  • For the occasional word processing or spreadsheeting.

I think these are (most of) my all-time-favorite tools. What are you using? What do you find helpful?

Here are some links what other people wrote about this topic: Mike Gunderloy and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and counting…