Once in awhile I like to read about what kind of software and utilities other people are using on their system to make their lives easier. It’s always interesting to see what mix of tools people are using and often times I learn about a new tool I hadn’t heard of before. Today I thought I’d do the same as I’ve started using a number of new tools on a regular basis just in the past six months.

As a systems engineer that is also familiar with programming I have what may be a unique mix of software and tools on my computer. Let’s take a look.

Operating System(s)

I have been using macOS full time since about 2008. I use macOS because it is a mix Unix and a GUI (NeXT if you’re keeping score) which gives me a familiar and robust command line environment with an excellent desktop environment.

I also use Linux heavily but almost never as a desktop or workstation. I have a laptop that I can dual boot between Linux and macOS for testing. I also run multiple Linux systems to run Proxmox for virtualization. Proxmox is a great way to get use out of otherwise retired computers. In fact, my Proxmox cluster is an older HP desktop with a quad core processor mixed with a pair of old MacBooks. I have written about Proxmox before and you can find it here.

I have one Windows PC that exists mostly because of games but also some business software.

Software Tools

When it comes to software these are the tools I use most frequently.

  • Code Editing and Runtimes/Languages
  • DevOps Type Stuff
  • Kuberenetes
    • kubectx/kubens for easy cluster and namespace switching
    • k9s for a text based UI to Kubernetes
  • Utilities
    • Brew
    • Patterns tool for working with regular expressions. Been using it for years but several tools now exist like it
    • iTerm 2 superior to the default terminal available in macOS
  • Other
    • Spotify for music
    • VirtualBox for testing Ansible roles
    • Twitter client
    • Mail.app
    • RamBox for chat
    • Bear for notes

Sometimes when using Ansible there is the need to reboot a server and wait for it to return. This simple recipe will allow you to achieve that while also getting some nice feedback so you know what is going on. You can place these tasks into a role or just in your playbook:

- name: Store target host and user
  set_fact:
  target_host: "{{ ansible_host }}"
  target_user: "{{ ansible_user }}"
 
- name: Reboot the server
  shell: sleep 2 && shutdown -r now "Ansible package updates triggered"
  async: 1
  poll: 0
  ignore_errors: true
 
- name: Wait for server to shutdown
  local_action: shell ssh -o BatchMode=yes -o ConnectTimeout=2 -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no "{{ target_user }}@{{ target_host }}" true
  register: result
  until: result.rc != 0
  failed_when: result.rc == -1
  retries: 200
  delay: 1
 
- name: Wait for server to be ready
  local_action: shell ssh -o BatchMode=yes -o ConnectTimeout=2 -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no "{{ target_user }}@{{ target_host }}" true
  register: result
  until: result.rc == 0
  retries: 200
  delay: 3

Wanted to quickly share some thoughts and links of software I’ve found recently and what I’ve been up to.

If you’re into home automation at all you have to check out Home Assistant. There is a bit of a learning curve initially but once you get an understanding of how to configure it you’ll find there is a lot of potential with it. I recently replaced my HomeBridge installation on my Raspberry Pi 3 with the prebuilt RPi3 image.

If you manage servers big or small take a look at Ansible. It isn’t new technology but it is something I’ve grown quite fond of recently. It’s easy to install on Linux, Mac and even Windows 10 if you have that oddly named Linux add-on. Even if you don’t use Ansible to manage servers you should use something.

If you enjoy Destiny or Destiny 2, checkout Guardian Theater. This is a project spearheaded by a friend of mine after collaborating with me on a Xbox GameDVR clip site (https://xboxrecord.us) and deciding it’d be way cooler if you could look up clips related to yours. Guardian Theater promises to show game clips recorded by other guardians while in the same activity as you. Lots of fun!