PSA: Linux and open source software recs



I usually groan when I see these "What I use" blog posts about Linux software. It's so nerdy, like even nerdier than the nerd I already am. Okay, forget that. Here's some recommendations of the software that I use every day. All of it, minus bandcamp, is open source. Here's what I prioritize: fast, navigable with vim/keyboard, good defaults, and supports my life coding, making art and teaching.

Fish shell

Autocompletion, syntax highlighting, auto-suggestions, sane scripting, friendly questions and answers on stackoverflow, straightforward documentation. Need I say more? It's my default shell and I've been using it 6ish years.


Command-line drop-dead simple stream listening app. I have been using this for at least 5 years and I love it. I am literally listening to internet radio every day for much of the day and this is a simple, easy-to-use and ultra-fast app. Mute, navigate, play, edit.



Drop-in Google Docs replacement but it's private. Has docs, spreadsheets, whiteboard, presentations, forms and I think a few others. You can make an account and sign in to save to your 'drive', or not. You can self-host or use the Tildeverse one.

Tildeverse-hosted cryptpad instance


I always hated Photoshop. Krita is my preferred Photoshop alternative for image editing. Yes, there is GIMP as well but Krita is elegant and photoshop-like with less cruft and you don't need to read a manual to just jump in.



My drop-in photo editing / organizing app.


Neovim (Vim)

Yes, I'm addicted to modal editing. I prefer vi-keys navigation in all my apps and have vi-keys set up in my fish shell for command prompt line editing. I use this for all offline text editing.

I do my code editing and grant writing, website editing, etc all in this. I have a simple config, but the two plugins I use the most are Goyo ("zen" writing - centers and simplifies the editor), and MarkdownPreview which launches my default firefox browser and displays my markdown as an html page on a local server instance.

Youtube-dl (including to play my Bandcamp music!)

I do use Youtube-dl to download videos and especially audio from YouTube. For instance, there are creative commons-licensed talks, performances and more from my gallery that I needed to store locally. But in addition, I also use this to play bandcamp music. Yes, I use this even for albums I own.

Here's the fish shell function I set up. It's very simple.

function bandcamp --description 'stream bandcamp tracks of an album url'
	echo "usage: bandcamp full-album-url"
	echo "Navigate tracks with PgUp / PgDown"
        mplayer (youtube-dl -g $argv)

Amfora gemini client

Amfora gemini client is fast, has vim-keys, and is consistent. I've written about this previously on my gemlog. I use it on my computer and on the tilde community when I ssh in (for example when browsing via iSH / Alpine Linux on my phone or ipad). I contributed the "slimey" theme.


Drop-in Github/Gitlab replacement, but better! No cruft. No terrible politics. Not a corporation.. Available to all members of tilde communities.


Tilda terminal emulator

I literally found this one when I was reading one of those "22 best Terminal Emulator Applications on Linux" articles on or something like that. This one is dead-fast, simple, but not quite as minimal as st. It has a few profiles that look good out of the box. Never had any problems. Never hangs.


I have some 250+ pages on my personal wiki. I've been using this for a few years now and it's (yes) fast, simple, vim-navigable. I use this pretty much every day for note-taking, bookmarking, planning, task lists, etc, basically as my own version of the beloved emacs org-mode.


For trimming down or converting videos between formats or concat'ing multiple videos together.


For converting between formats.

rogue and brogue

I've been playing these roguelikes for years. I've never even come close to beating either of them.


I love the community and the wider community of folks I chat with in the Fediverse. I tend to use this through the web client but sometimes I also use the toot CLI client, particularly running it in toot tui mode.


Despite using the command line most of the time, and despite using fish shell with auto-complete, I am often forgetting the best way to use lots of CLI software. In steps tldr, which usually has my back. These are user-contributed suggested recipes for the most common ways of using command line programs. I've also contributed my first pull requests to tldr a few years ago, for programs that were missing.

I use other software as well but I think this is my core toolkit.