What's on my desk?

03 February 2022

In the last couple of weeks, a meme has been going around the blogging community where people talk about the stuff they use on an everyday basis. So, I figured, why not. I write about everything else, right?

Hardware-wise you're probably already familiar with Windbringer's specs because I document all of my laptops. It's also no surprise that I run Arch Linux everywhere I can get away with it. Not a whole lot has changed on that front. I'm running the MATE Desktop Environment as my daily user interface, I'm trying to get used to neoVIM as my go-to text editor (none of the third-party GUIs grab me, so I'll probably rig up a Mate Terminal window instead), and Vivaldi as my web browser, because Google is breaking adblocking in Chrome by requiring v3 addon manifests and is pretty much forcing Firefox to go the same way.1

Will Vivaldi go the same way, because it's built on top of Chromium? I don't know. They say they won't but I don't know how difficult it will be to swim against that particular current. Time will tell, an d another blog post will undoubted come of it.

As for what I have Vivaldi tricked out with, I have a set of extensions installed that I find useful. Love it or hate it, the contents of the Chrome Web Store are compatible with Vivaldi so I pulled everything from there. In alphabetical order, first I have Downloads Router because it makes it easier to save files by re-adding user interaction, Font Changer Plus because I can tweak font sizes without wrecking entire pages (yes, I need new glasses), Lastpass for credential management (I also haven't found a self-hosted alternative that has the features I use all the time, such as having a mobile app as well as plugins for browsers that I actually use), uBlock Origin (I know that Vivaldi has much of that functionality built-in, but it's not nearly as configurable), Wallabagger for times when I don't feel like running links through Paywall Breaker (which also archives the pages on a half-dozen services), and Yet Another REST Client for hacking around with REST APIs.

Listening to music? MP3s and FLACs stored on Windbringer played with QMMP. For renaming and retagging music I use Musicbrainz Picard, which is also nice because I can use it to fix up the tags on the music stored on my phone by ejecting the microSD card, plugging it into Windbringer, and loading up the files. Video playback? VLC or Kodi. Writing code or blogging? vim or neovim with GNU Screen if it's not on Windbringer. Instant messaging (and communication with my exocortex) - Psi Plus (though it takes a lot of tweaking to make it nice - I wish I could export my configs to re-import elsewhere) and Signal's desktop client. File sharing and ocassionally chatting - Keybase even though it's effectively dead (thank you and fuck you, Zoom).

I don't think I've written up Leandra's hardware specs since the last time I worked on her. I last rebuilt her in 2020.ev because her old configuration was getting a little long in the tooth for my research. I started with an Asus ROG X570 Crosshair VIII Hero motherboard (affiliate link), which has a very nice 802.11Ax wifi chipset on board, an M.2 interface for an SSD (which is bootable, for the record), and USB v3.2 jacks all over the place. I paired it with an AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT (affilate link) processor, which has 12 cores (24 threads) at 4.7 GHz and a Cooler Master Hyper 212 cooling system (affiliate link). I also picked up a matched pair of G.Skill RipJaws V 32 GB memory modules to triple the amount of RAM Leandra had available (eat your heart out, Acid Burn). And, also because the new processor core and mainboard weren't compatible with her old RAM. Oh, well. Rounding the rebuild out is an Asus GeForce GTX 1660 (affiliate link) (the output of lspci says that the card is an nVidia TU116) with 6 GB of onboard video RAM and (most helpfully) CUDA support.

For fun I ran John the Ripper compiled with CUDA support armed with about a half terabyte of dictionaries against a certain .zip file and after a couple of days (because I tried a number of different character encodings and word mangling rules) and got a couple of passwords that seemed to work. In case you're curious I got the wordlists from this Git repo, this repo and used wordlistctl to pull down the rest. As for desktoppy application stuff? I don't use Leandra for that, she's a pure server. I do pretty much everything from inside a Screen session. Sorry, nothing interesting there.

I also have never written up my work laptop because... well, it's a work laptop. It's a 13-inch Macbook Pro, model A2251. We use Google Chrome because it can be centrally managed and everything else I do for work uses either vim or SSH. Nothing interesting or special here, either.

As for the obligatory keyboard writeup, I'm using a Redragon K552 mechanical keyboard that I change the backlighting pattern on whenever I get bored (more or less) and a generic USB clone of the Apple touchpad plugged into a USB-C hub. I have a boring Dell flatpanel display next to me on the workbench plugged into a mini Displayport-to-USB-C adapter, which then gets plugged into an available USB-C jack on the laptop I'm using at the moment. I also keep a couple of HDMI-to-USB-C adapters handy.

And that's pretty much it. You're probably reading this several weeks after everybody's forgotten about the "describe your everyday desktop" meme. That's fine. I do scheduled posts and I'm sticking to it.

  1. How is Google forcing Firefox? Google is a primary funder of Mozilla. (Wayback Machine) (archive.fo) Money means obligation, and several hundred million dollars means huge obligations, strings that can be pulled, and folks not wanting to piss off the source of those several hundred million dollars of funding. One does not disobey any megacorp lightly.