And when I thought I couldn’t get closer to Nerdvana

… doors started to open.

I have written about my technical setup before. But now, ladies and gentlemen, it is getting HOT. Like hard core porn hot.

The setup goes like this: Linux (Ubuntu 14.04) as the operating system (easy package management – it does the job well). No kludgey memory-hogging desktop environment, just a damn good Window Manager straight – the i3. Lean, mean, keyboard driven and very efficient. Check out my config here.

The i3 window manager in action

The i3 window manager in action

Adding a conky bar with essential info at the top of the screen. And the perfect e-mail setup for good measure.

The e-mail client, mutt

The e-mail client, mutt

I am a vi-guy to the core, and I prefer to use console tools as much as I can (urxvt is the terminal with zsh as the shell). With key bindings for everything and with minimal use of the mouse, I get the speed and efficiency I want.

I use VIM for almost all my text editing – from writing books and articles (with the added benefit of LaTeX) to writing hyperlists, all my e-mails… and this very blog post. I swear by mutt as the e-mail client. It spawns vim as the editor. Essential vim plugins are netdict, visincr and gundo.

Newsbeuter - the rss reader

Newsbeuter – the rss reader

I use newsbeuter for newsfeeds, irssi as the Internet Relay Chat client and mcabber for my facebook chat ๐Ÿ™‚ Zathura is the pdf reader of choice.

Using irssi to chat

Using irssi to chat

Just the other day, as I was struggling with a bug in the latest release of the trust old vifm console file manager, I came across an alternative – ranger. An ultra-neat file manager capable of all sorts of acrobatics – like displaying images right in the console (via w3m)! Wanna dig in? My config file should get you grooved in.

The amazing ranger - file manager on steroids

The amazing ranger – file manager on steroids

Then it’s the browser. I have been very happy with uzbl – until the latest git updates. Stability issues started creeping in and I was forced to look for alternatives. I have tried plenty – and I gave luakit another go. The config files are written directly in the programming language of lua. A bit of steep curve for simple configuration tasks but as you get used to lua, it offers amazing extensibility to the browser. As I started to fell in love with luakit, another vi-like browser popped up on the radar – dwb. How could I have missed this gem in all my trails and tribulations trying to find the perfect keyboard driven browser? OMG what a browser! Don’t leave home without it. With such an easy configuration, you’ll be up and running and turning into a fan in no time.

Dwb - รผber-cool browser

Dwb – รผber-cool browser

I have spent 14 years choosing my tools, fine tuning their operations and polishing every detail. I owe much work efficiency to this passion.

When I thought I couldn’t get closer to Nerdvana, I stumbled right into its core. Sadly, I now have few ideas left of how to improve my tools set :-/


73 thoughts on “And when I thought I couldn’t get closer to Nerdvana

  1. May I ask a nerd a question ๐Ÿ˜‰ Would you recommend Ubuntu for an old Macbook running Snow Leopard? Mainly for web browsing.

        1. Linux is like buffet style dish. There are plenty of delicious meals to chose from, if you don’t like the taste of one, there’s always something else to try out.
          With that said, I’d say that giving Arch Linux a try might be worth the shot. It might not be as user-friendly to install and set up as popular Debian-based distros, but it does offer you the possibility to build a system customised to your taste thanks to detailed walkthrough offered at the website.

  2. “Perfection in design is achieved not when nothing remains to be added, but when nothing remains to be removed.” I forget who said that, but it’s neat.

    Looks like you’re getting close ๐Ÿ™‚

    Me, I just got used to KDE4 and now use that. Bloated? maybe – but with an 8-core i7, 16G ram and a 256G SSD I really don’t care how much resources plasma takes ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Screen res is 1920 x 1080, estate is not a problem ๐Ÿ™‚
        Konsole is my interface of choice anyway and a maximised window gives 261×72.

        Now Gnome OTOH, that is an abomination that shall not be suffered to live

  3. Geir wrote:

    “When I thought I couldnโ€™t get closer to Nerdvana, I stumbled right into its core. …

    Shield your ears!

    SOMEONE is obviously having a nerdgasm.


  4. what’s do?

    you didn’t mention anything for security, backup or config management, is that on dropbox?

    I never run out of doors to open with these:

    network hardware too with configs for dns interception, dns filtering, vpns, tunnels, ids, etc.

    and something I always have to 5s is my bookmarks, the most important thing in a browser, can you share your bookmarks? what websites do you visit daily?

    And how do you stay up to date efficiently with news? I typically use many subscriptions on wordpress reader and rss readers, and I keep my favorites in kanban folders, todo, doing, done, then I archive them in folders once in a while like doing spring cleaning

    You can always get leaner and closer to minimalism

    and what about a phone? do you use a 1+1 and script it with tasker or?

    1. Good links.

      On your questions:

      I use dropbox for all things backup. Have a separate Dropbox folder in my home directory – but as I have a pro account with 1TB storage, I am contemplating moving my whole home directory there.

      I have not gotten around to sharing any bookmarks. Never really had the need. But if I figure that important, I will script it from dwb and sync via Dropbox etc.

      My daily digest is done via rss (newsbeuter) . typically Slashdot, Particle Physics News, Universe Today, ESO news and various blogs. For world news, I have the radio on in the car every day.

      Phone = Samsung S5. PC = Samsung NP900X4C

      Syncing via Google and Dropbox. sets a random wallpaper:


      ALIST=( `ls -w1 $WALLPAPERS` )
      let “number = $RANDOM”
      let LASTNUM=”`cat $WALLPAPERS/.last` + $number”
      let “number = $LASTNUM % $RANGE”
      echo $number > $WALLPAPERS/.last

      xli -border black -onroot -fullscreen $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$number]} &

  5. Love your Nerdvana andadmire all your nerdness. From Nonerd Dee. ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. That deElizabethan is a mover and shaker Geir..

        You are getting quite fancy with your tech MR. I am really impressed!

      2. Thanks Geir, ๐Ÿ™‚ Cute is all I got going for me on this subject. I let the younger generation attend to the technical stuff. I see the importance in it and appreciate those who evolve and participate with it. The future does look bright knowing there are those who can attend to such matters of progress and I leave it to them to help change, by keeping up with the world and it’s tech, for the exciting betterment of society. So kudos to all nerds. Grandma Dee

  6. Edward Snowden completely changed my viewpoint on how I have my property stored on the Internet and what items I place there.

    The only cloud storage I would ever use any more is one which:

    1. Originated as an encrypted file on my device, which only *I* have the password for, and

    2. Which would reside on a cloud server in an encrypted state, and which the company running the cloud service does NOT have the key to decrypt it.

    This is the new standard for storing any digital property on the Internet if you are to retain your private ownership rights over your own, or your client’s, email, files, tasks, contacts, etc.

    Unfortunately, very few cloud services exist which meet this standard. In fact, we are in a situation, especially here in the US, where ownership rights have been abolished by the government.

    So I am in a holding pattern, waiting for “free enterprise” to rescue us with products and services that can defeat criminal hackers – and criminal governments – and help us retain our rights to our own property.


      1. Geir wrote:

        The stuff I hold on a cloud service is stuff that I wouldnโ€™t mind posting on Wikipedia

        Yes. That is a new way of looking at things for me.

        I used to assume that my security, privacy and ownership rights would be protected by the internet companies I dealt with.

        I don’t know why I ever thought that, because they never actually said they would. That assumption is completely gone now and my thinking and behavior has changed tremendously as a result.


          1. Vinaire asked:

            “What are you trying to secure?

            Any private property that I own which touches an electronic device or the Internet.

            Ownership is the key concept here that too few people understand in the digital age.

            Just the simple concept of “ownership”.


            1. Vinaire wrote:

              “โ€œWhoโ€ is owning?

              Oh that’s right! The “self” does not really exist. Therefore I don’t really have any property to own!

              I feel so much better now.

              f/n VGIs


            2. Well, you haven’t sorted out the inconsistency yet.

              Self exists but it is impermanent.

              I don’t know what you mean by “feeling better”. Are you still in Scientology?

    1. Best security comes from not drawing the attention to oneself. Nobody knows about that fisherman on the coast of India.

        1. By then the social paranoia must have really gotten bad. Right now it is more of a western phenomenon.

          It is interesting that USA is now suffereing from this paranoia while it is trying to live off the sales of military hardware. This is in violation of Ethical conduct per Buddhism. See

          <b)5. Right Livelihood (a) Abstain from making living through a profession that brings harm to others, such as * Trading in arms and lethal weapons, * Intoxicating drinks, * Poisons, * Killing animals, * Cheating, etc. (b) Live by a profession which is honorable, blameless and innocent of harm to others.

          Scientology is a product of this aspects of American culture. It also suffers from paranoia while it is trying to life off of people’s paranoia about their survival. It is also in violation of Buddhist concept of Ethical conduct. Please see



          1. Naive eastern population might just get a serious wake-up call in the not too distant future. Akin to the black population of Africa a few hundred years ago.

  7. I just read, i have left out two words from what you wrote. It is:

    ‘…I now have few ideas left of how to improve my tools set.’

    Why do you want to improve them?

  8. Hey Geir –

    From your position floating above us all in Nerdvana, what security and privacy techniques should ex-scientologists and indie scns take which would be pertinent to their situations, given the CofS spends so much money hacking the internet to dead agent and shuddering into silence their “enemies”?

    I know you have been used as a consultant by the cofs in the opposite direction. Can you provide NerdGnosis in the other direction?


    1. My operation is based on two principles:
      1. Have little to lose – be open about as much as possible.
      2. What should be secret stays iron-clad secret.

      For #2, I use strong key encryption via gpg. This is built into my VIM/HyperList solution in a smooth way ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. So you have a pgp/VIM/HyperList solution.

        Alrighty then.

        Security through obscurity and opaque technical idiosyncrasy.



          1. Warning: nit pick alert ๐Ÿ™‚

            Technically, strong encryption is still security by obscurity. It all relies on no-one knowing or being able to calculate the matching private key, hence it is obscured.

            I’ll shut up now to avoid confusing the non-IT nerds listening ๐Ÿ™‚

            1. Warning: Ultra-nit pick alert ๐Ÿ™‚

              In that sense – any and all security is security by obscurity and thus rendering the term useless ๐Ÿ˜›

  9. Ah, but some things are more obscure than other things, and some of them are so obscure as to be useful ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Well I’m waiting for products and services to be developed for windows platforms for desktops and, whatever smartphone and tablet OSes, that actually recognize my ownership rights to my digital property.

      The big press release from Apple (besides the nude celebrity photos breach) was that Apple’s business model does not rely on surveillance of your property, as google and microsoft and almost all the other free cloud services do.

      But Apple still has not developed anything that easily encrypts your property on your device and keeps it encrypted on iCloud and everywhere in transit.

      Maybe surveillance was the only way to provide free services, which drove the adoption of the Internet at a pace that made it a viable means of communication.

      Maybe the destruction of property rights was simply an unintended consequence of that.

      All I know is that I can not trust microsoft, google, facebook, yahoo, and so many other companies which I used to hold up to hero status as the builders of the greatest grassroots empowerment platform in the history of mankind. It only took them a little less than a decade to destroy all that.

      And if it weren’t for Edward Snowden providing the dox, we would never have known any of it,

      Waking up in the United States and realizing that it is actually a totalitarian society, was as an even more nasty surprise than waking up in Scientology and realizing it was a cult. When I fled Scientology, at least I thought there was a place to go where my rights were recognized.


        1. Thank you for these.

          I’ve tried a number of the solutions in that list already.

          2 of them, Spider Oak and another not mentioned Tonido, simply do not work. (If I try to make something work after 8-12 hours of trying over many days, with support calls and reading docs, then I conclude “It does not work” and move on).

          Unfortunately, I think that we are in a no man’s land post-snowden with regard to these technologies, and I am simply waiting for something that works well enough for me and my clients to use.

          I could totally geek out and go obscure like you do, G, but my clients have to use my stuff without much tech training. And there simply isn’t anything available right now that I have found which they can use without some form of exposure or outright surveillance.

          I am watching ARKOS, which is still in alpha, and some others. Your list has added a few more for me to check out. Thanks.

          Got any more that are solutions like ArkOS?


      1. Alanzo,

        That’s not really how it works. No external service can control encryption on your device. If you want a file to be encrypted in the cloud, then first encrypt it yourself and then send it to the cloud.

        Google and other services have always been upfront that their business is search, so they will search your stored data to find other things you might like. If you don;t want that to be done, don’t use Google.

        This cannot possibly work any other way – any software that encrypts your data must have a private key to do it, and they must retain that private key to decrypt it later. There is only one safe place to keep that private key – on your device – which brings us back to para #1. ANy other scheme is doomed to failure – witness the Bluray encryption debacle

  10. By the way, what do you think about what happened to TrueCrypt?

    Firkking bizarre, don’t you think?

    Personally, I think that we should take the developer’s statement at their word: it’s not secure and you should not use it.

    But Bruce Schneier and some of the most prominent cryptographers still endorse it!

    Really, really bizarre. Lots of missing information for a supposedly open source program.


    1. Simplest possible explanation:

      Someone triggered a dead canary and the code did what it was written to do – shut down the project. Sort of an “Oops” moment

  11. Hey Geir,
    We have exactly the same setup. you can find dotfiles at:
    They are rather outdated though.
    I use dmenu to open shell apps directly in terminals, and have a script to pull up an IRSSI tmux session from the tmux daemon.
    The only thing that differs from you is… DWB. This browser segfaults in both wheezy, jessie and even in the lastest git version, due to an external dependency on the buggy libwebkit.
    You have more luck with Ubuntu I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Nice pointers there (tmux, dmenu for shell apps). Thanks.

      Maybe get in on the IRC channel #dwb on freenode and ask about that segfaulting?

    2. I have gone through your dotfiles – and there are some neat stuff in there. I have a couple of questions, though. Would you drop me an e-mail ( so we can connect back channel (I see e-mail addresses of yours in the dotfiles of course, but uncertain as to what is current).

  12. Thanks for all these cool program tips! I’m a noob fascinated by such terminal nerdism ๐Ÿ˜€ One question: why ubuntu, not arch?

    1. Easy upgrades, I guess. Been running Ubuntu since 2008 or so. I just might try out Arch when I get enough spare time on my hands. The Arch wiki is the best resource out there. I have earlier been running Gentoo, Debian, RedHat and Suse as well as OpenBSD, NetBSD and DragonflyBSD + a few other OSs and distros lost in my memory.

  13. frankly speaking you learn me one stuff, “ranger” until now I was using a patched vifm so thank you,

    about dwb I tried before but it was to buggi (as webkit at this moment) and found vimperator on firefox much better if you remove every bar on firefox except the vimperator bar.

    so this is what i use :
    web browser: firefox, vimperator
    windows manager: i3-wm (with the default i3 bar (I do not think conky is really usefull))
    distrib: archlinux (i do not like ubuntu)
    editor: vim
    term: rxvt-unicode
    file-manager: ranger (vifm before)
    pdf-viewer: llpp (i think you will like this one, i found it faster than zathura)
    online-chat: (not irssi but) weechat (with a python jabber plugin)\
    mail: sidebar patched mutt
    torrent: rtorrent (patched as well)
    music: cmus
    others: tmux

    but if you whant to use just one term and everything inside just use emacs ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. I’m impressed by the work that you’ve done configuring your environment! Thanks for sharing the fruits off your labor ๐Ÿ™‚ Would you mind sharing your ranger scope.h and color scheme?

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