I first got interested in computers when my brother and i got our first
machine, a mythical Spectrum 48k,
after convincing our parents that we needed it both to start
learning computer science (a partially true but secondary reason) and for
playing computer games (the real reason). From here on we started
getting better computers until the PCs era nowadays.
However, I didn't get in touch with the Unix world until I started
college in 1995, and with the Linux world until 1998 when doing my End
of Career Project. From there on, thanks to my experience at iAgora, i
was lucky to start working on Linux for two and a half years, in which i
got to learn a lot from my colleagues and specially from Roger Espel,
a great master and long-time Unix hacker who is the main responsible for
my love of some of the programs mentioned below (mutt, vim, screen...).
In the next few paragraphs I make a summary of the software I find most
interesting. It is not necessarily the best and it probably doesn't
match your preferences, some pople prefer emacs to vim and so on, but
this small sample should at least serve as my personal tribute to these
programs which have helped me much throughout the years.
Operating systems: Linux
On the technical side: gorgeous stability, flexibility and
configurability. On the ideological side: it's Free Software and a
collaborative effort from thousands of people around the world. At
first I was mostly interested because of the technical merits, but
throughout the years I've come to fully appreciate all the significance
of the Open Source and Free Software movements.
Not long ago I would have listed SuSE as my favorite
distribution, but currently I can't choose only one, I'd rather admit
their strength in each of their segments: Debian because of its stability which
makes it so suitable for server environments, and because of its 100%
volunteer structure, Ubuntu for
current desktop PCs and leading usability efforts, Red Hat as the safest best and the main
distribution for professional environments, SuSE as one of the most comprehensive
My favorite browser is Firefox, pretty powerful on
its own and with thousands of add-ons available if you need more
features, for instance the Feed
Sidebar for reading RSS feeds containing the newest in my favorite
websites. For email I use Mutt, a
very customizable text-mode client that lets me use Vim, my favorite text editor, for writing
On the desktop, I like KDE as a windows
manager, and I'd like to highlight a couple of its integrated apps: Amarok as a comprehensive music
collection manager and Kaffeine as
a DVB viewer.
As for programming, I have an unconditional love for Perl as a very powerful and versatile
programming language. I must also highlight the Apache web server which is the crown
jewel of the Open Source movement. Finally, I'd like to mention WebMake, a neat application that
lets you create a website from a bunch of well structured templates, in fact
WebMake has been used to create this website.
System Administration tools
For system administration, I must strongly recommend Nagios for network
and systems monitoring and the venerable MRTG for gathering traffic stats. OpenSSH is already a classic for
remote shell access and has a thousand more features, rsync for efficiently
copying and syncronizing big directory trees and screen for getting
multiple sessions from a single text console. I would also like to pay a
tribute to strace, a
tool that is invaluable for getting some information for even the most
inexplicable problems, and other classics such as grep or xargs that let you perform
some amazing tricks from the command line.