Elliot Speck Disk Space Invader

Working in the Cloud: Linux Edition

A few months ago I posted an Opinion Piece™ about working on a device heavily assisted by cloud services. Since that piece, I’ve been playing around with Linux systems again and have begun to really enjoy how they work now. So here’s round two, with Linux in full focus. This means that pretty much all the software and services I list here are privacy-centric and cross-platform. I even changed password manager.

Desktop and Laptop

Debian GNU/Linux (Unstable) is the operating system of choice presently, replacing macOS. Until October 29 it was Fedora, which is supported by Red Hat. Unfortunately, Red Hat just got bought out by IBM and you would have to force an IBM product into my cold dead hands. Debian strikes a happy medium between corporate-sponsored distributions and “ragtag” groups like Arch Linux, or Gentoo. Unstable is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s actually pretty stable for desktop usage. I wouldn’t recommend it on a server, though. For personal servers I use Debian Testing. For production use, Debian stable. Desktop-wise, I just stick with the standard GNOME desktop with a few minor tweaks.

Mozilla Firefox Developer Edition is my browser of choice, replacing Chrome. The developer edition of Firefox runs a little faster than beta, but a little slower than nightly. This strikes the balance between having new features and not having to update three times per day, as honestly Firefox’s update process is still inferior to Chrome/ium’s.

I use the following addons:

Bitwarden is my new password manager, replacing 1Password. Bitwarden offers a mildly cheaper service but entirely cross-platform, and (as of recently) has a desktop vault application, too. It fully supports TOTP (“two-factor”) authentication codes, notes, and personal information storage if that’s your thing.

SpiderOak is my cloud-storage / backups service provider, replacing Dropbox. SpiderOak focus on “zero knowledge” storage, and have been practicing that for ten years. They offer service packages that are quite generous, and their client has a clear split between “sync” (known as “hive” in the SpiderOak client) and outright backups, which are not synced between systems. This allows you to perform both operations inside one client. The client offers the ability to download backed-up files on-demand, though, so the backup functionality performs almost like on-demand sync as opposed to an old-fashioned offline whole-disk backup system.

I chose SpiderOak over many others, such as Backblaze or Tarsnap, because they still focus on the sync/per-file aspect of cloud storage, which is quite important to me. I’m not imaging entire machines and sending them up to the cloud, I’m only storing individual files. Presently my cloud storage account with SpiderOak weighs in at under 10 gigabytes.

Sublime Text is still my text editor of choice. That won’t change any time soon.

Inkdrop has become my new note-taking application of choice, replacing Bear (which replaced Ulysses). Inkdrop has been around for a little while and is actually a one-man show, but the developer is both good at what they’re doing, and really responsive to email feedback. Like Bitwarden, it is an Electron application but it’s light, snappy, and handles Markdown. These are extremely important features to me.

Auxillary Services