Erethon’s corner

Random thoughts of mine

How I do my Computing

Feb 19, 2017

This is a long time coming post that I’ve kept postponing (pun intended) for ages.

I enjoy browsing The Setup and I always longed for an easy way to share the way I do my computing with friends, besides linking them my dotfiles. This blog post is supposed to fill that void. A lot of this info is already documented in my private Emacs wiki, this is a more lengthy representation of it.

As a side note, this post will be a huge opsec failure, but hey, obscurity isn’t security, right?


I have two computers I use on a regular basis, a laptop and a desktop. The laptop is my daily go to computer, while the desktop gets used once a week, when I feel I need a bigger screen/beefier machine. The laptop is running Debian Jessie, always updated and using a backported kernel, while the desktop is running OpenBSD-stable.

I use mutt to read emails and a mixture of [offlineimap/smtp/notmuch as described here. Archiving is done using archivemail and archived emails end up on Tarsnap and/or scp’ed on some private servers.

I use both Vim and Emacs to edit text. Vim is used for all of my email editing and most of my code editing needs. Emacs covers all of my org-mode stuff, lisp/clojure coding and random blocks of text like this blog post. I’m currently trying to force myself to use Emacs exclusively.

I maintain a number of org-mode documents which I use as a personal wiki, diary, agenda, task manager/tracker platform.

My browser of choice is Firefox LTS alongside a number of plugins. Namely:

  • uBlock Origin
  • https everywhere
  • NoScript (always blocking Javascript from all domains)
  • Pentadactyl
  • FoxyProxy

I’ve also disabled a large number of features which I find privacy intrusive and a huge security nightmare, such as WebRTC, Service Workers and Local Storage. I wish we could have a modern browser (security wise) with a lot of these fancy new features ripped off.

To read my RSS feeds I use Newsbeutter, a simple curses RSS reader that’s lightweight and gets the job done.

To chat with friends, colleagues, random people on the internet I like to use mcabber for XMPP and weechat inside a tmux session for IRC. In the past I experimented with bouncers, but in the end I prefered the simpler setup. SSH and tmux suffice :)

My window manager is dwm, a really barebones and lightweight tilling WM. I used to use AwesomeWM, but dwm is more than enough for my needs and in a faction of the size. For terminal emulation I use urxvt and always live inside multiple tmux sessions, both remote and local.

I try doing all of my development remotely, on servers on the internet, but some stuff I do locally. In both cases, I use virtualenvs when working on Python projects and a mixture of containers/VMs for more isolation on other stuff. If this wasn’t apparent already, I try to keep a minimal and clean system.

I use unbound as a local DNS and blackhole a number of ad-serving/tracking domains. My /etc/resolv.conf has the immutable attribute set, which is always cumbersome for public WIFI hotspots that implement a captive portal.

On both systems (laptop and desktop) I’ve setup a pretty restrictive firewall with lots of logging using Ferm in Debian and of course pf in OpenBSD.


I maintain a number of servers running lots of services, some are for private use, others are for friends and some are semi-public. Most of them are KVM VMs, a small number are OpenVZ containers and some are physical machines. Most are running Debian Jessie and a couple of them are OpenBSD based.

All of them are managed using Ansible in push mode, while for the Debian ones I’m also using DebOps.

I use Grafana to plot graphs about metrics concerning these machines. Data collection is done using collectd and the data backend is InfluxDB.


Most of the aforementioned machines are connected using Tinc and use that connection for any ‘private’ communication they need to do, like the collectd/influxdb messages. Some services only listen on private addresses, so they’re available only through the VPN.

On home, I have a TP-Link WDR3600 flashed with OpenWRT as my router/gateway. I use a VLAN for my computers and a separate VLAN for guests. The DNS on the router blackholes a number of ad serving domain, so all of the devices connected on my network are ad free.

I use socks proxies over SSH as a quick and dirty VPN solution most of the time. I’ve experimented with cjdns a bit and I would like to join the dn42 network once I get a bit of free time.