The Evolution of My Dev Setup

As with everybody, my development setup has gone through many
changes over the years and will inevitabley continue to change.

The Beginning
————-
My first computer that was mine and mine alone was a IBM Thinkpad
Type-2647 from my grandfather. It had Windows XP when I got it,
but I remember that it just crawled along. This is when GNU/Linux
entered my life. I was pointed to Damn Small Linux as a way to
improve the performance, and instantly fell in love. Somewhere
around middle school I found Ubuntu and used that distro until
college (More on that later).

This laptop still powers some stuff around my house this very day,
and served as my daily driver all through middle school and high
school. This is when I started programming on a computer instead
of on my graphing calculator. I took some C++ classes at the local
university and fell in love with the ordered, rational way of
thinking through problems. I also started using Vim around this
time. I was unaware that other text editors than vi and Vim
existed.

The Dark Ages
————-
In college, just like everybody else, I experimented. I got a
MacBook Pro as a high school graduation gift, and spent all of
college dual-booting Mac OS X and Ubuntu. In retrospect, I refer
to these years as “The Dark Ages” because I guzzled the Apple
kool-aid. I was the biggest Mac fanboy in my circle of friends. I
wrote AppleScripts for fun (One randomized my MAC Address so that
I didn’t keep getting kicked off of the university’s network for
excessive use) and expounded the virtues of XQuartz on every
street corner. During this time, my programming projects were
still in C/C++, MatLab, Maple, and Mathematica. I lived in IDE’s
and hated being in a terminal.
I was also still a Vim person during this time, although I used a
GUI version of Vim.

The Early Professional Years
—————————-
Right after college, I got a job doing iOS development. Still
drunk on the Apple Kool-aid, I dove in head first. I now spent 16
hours a day in Xcode and forgot about Vim. I got an iPhone and an
iPad, and thought that my technical life was complete – all of my
devices synced together, I had a continuous user experience across
multiple devices – life was good. At the tail end of this period,
I started using GNU/Linux exclusively at home. I started with
Ubuntu (as most do) and then moved to Fedora. It was at this point
that I discovered the Free Software Foundation and their
mission. I started to see cracks in what I thought was a perfect
technological existence. I found Emacs, and never looked
back. Then I found other GNU/Linux distros that were more “freedom
oriented.”

The Modern Day
————–
I started using gNewSense because of its philosophy. I had many
many pain points, but I kept using gNewSense because I wanted to
use only FOSS software. At some point the pain points were too
numerous, and I switched back to Fedora. I spent 18 months trying
various distros for 1-2 months at a time until I found something
that I liked. I tried Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, gNewSense (again),
Parabola, and finally landed at Trisquel. Now here was a distro
for me; an active community, a philosophy that I agreed with, and
reliable/stable software that I could use for my day job (doing
web development). I used Trisquel exclusively, both at home and at
work, for ~8 months. Then again, I started to see the cracks in my
world. The community was becoming more and more poisonous –
countless email/forum threads of trolling and personal attacks. I
had technological needs that couldn’t be met by a 32bit system. I
distro-hopped once more to Arch.

Today’s Arch Setup
——————
Today, I am using Arch Linux on my home and work machines. While I
am uneasy with using the “straight” Linux kernel due to it
containing non-free parts, I have yet to spend the time to switch
to using a libre kernel. I still make sure that I am using and
installing free-as-in-freedom software. I refer to my system as “a
free system, built upon a _mostly_ free base.” While this isn’t a
perfect solution, this setup works for me and allows me to get my
work done with minimal interference. I live inside of Emacs all
day at work; I use it for editing, irc, jabber, email, and as a
terminal emulator. I couldn’t be happier – however, I am sure that
someday I will see some cracks once more, and hop away to some
other distro and its promised wonderland.

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