My computer setup

I haven’t had interesting topics recently at work, as we’ve been stuck on massive load balancing problems for over a week, as well as some redundancy experiments. So I’ll talk about my computer setup.

My setup

Picture of my setup


At the moment, I only use my Dell XPS 9560 (15”), which I bought in April 2017. It is equipped with:

  • a non-touch matte 1920x1080 display with tiny bezels (useful and functional, no smartphone gimmicks),
  • 16GB of RAM (before the cartel-organized shortage),
  • a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, quad-core at 45W TDP,
  • a GTX 1050 GPU that allows me to play most games at low settings, even on Linux,
  • 512 GB Toshiba SSD,
  • a 97Wh battery that lasts about 7 hours.

Here’s my screenfetch output:

screenfetch output

I imported it from France, where it cost me 1400 euros, through a relative of mine that has access to wholesale hardware rebates. It is an excellent machine, and I spend most of my time outside of work on it, especially my long 4-hours-a-day commute.

The secondary display

To it, I attached a QNIX QX2710 27” IPS monitor which I imported from South Korea back in 2012. It only cost me $300 back then, but since then I could find cheaper and better mainstream 31.5” displays, just not where I live. It serves me very well however. In particular, I took a gamble with this Cable Matters USB-C to DVI Adapter, and it ended up working beautifully at full 2560x1440 resolution.

The keyboard

I also use an IBM Model M keyboard from 1987, which I bought in 2011 for $40. I can’t recommend those enough, though they are a dying breed.

model m sticker


Also pictured is the very good Dell mouse included with the laptop, as well as the very underpriced Koss KSC75 ear-clip headphones.


After distro-hopping in the past with Antergos and Fedora, and still occasionally in the past year, trying out SolusVM and Kubuntu, I am an extremely happy Xubuntu user. Unless you are a very specific kind of user, Debian is a no-brainer for productivity these days, and Ubuntu offers some extra convenience for very minor instability. With XFCE on top, I get a very lightweight, functional and aesthetic DE. I don’t have time to deal with cumbersome issues these days so it’s a pleasure. The primary role of an OS should primarily be to get out of the way, and that’s why I am very happy two years after ditching Windows.

Ricing details: There’s not too much going on here, it even looks a bit Windows-ish. The main game-changer for me is the X-Arc-Shadow theme for XFCE: download to ~/.themes, select it in Settings->Appearance and Settings->Window Manager. Beyond that, I use many goodies for the XFCE Panel, which I got from sudo apt install xfce4-gooodies. This is the resulting panel (squeezed to 1200px):


The way forward

For the past 10 years, I’ve kept reading hardware news with the dream of buying tons of cool stuff. As a result, I’ve had a backlog of hardware to buy. Here’s my dream setup:

  • 3x 27” monitors held by a mechanical arm. I could use the screen real estate, although I’m scared I’ll be spoiled forever and my commute work will be ruined even on my 15” laptop.
  • A desktop PC with custom parts put together on with decent specifications, especially at least a middle-range GPU.
  • A home server that will serve as a FreeNAS on a RAID5, as well as a NextCloud server and maybe a public server for side projects. Either a Synology device or some low-power computer like a NUC attached to a bunch of disks. I am unsure about getting a public static IPv4 address, as these cost a lot to rent from ISPs.
  • A customized router for metrics and security. For example, this seems like a neat little side-project, or otherwise a some Chinese box with good firmware like OpenWRT or Tomato. Coupled with a reliable Wi-Fi access point like Unifi, it would solve all my networking needs, although I might buy a small switch for some experiments.
  • An ultrabook for my commute, for weight and battery. Probably some kind of subnotebook like a Thinkpad X1 Carbon or a Dell XPS 13.

All in all, I’ll be in for $5000 at most, including good peripherals and a decent chair and table. But I’m already happy at the moment.