The BSD Setup – Roman Zolotarev, Developer

I found out about Roman on Twitter (thank you, Fabio!). Roman runs a BSD version of The Setup (which I think is now called Uses This…). Roman definitely loves the terminal, using just three graphical programs. And, like so many Linux users, he also loves ThinkPads. We’re all not so different after all, are we?

You can find more of The Linux Setup here.

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  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

    Hi, I’m Roman Zolotarev. I make software for the web. I started my career as a webmaster in the nineties, then focused on frontend and now on backend.

    I run a job board and write quick how-tos for BSD users. I’m a fan of OpenBSD, shell scripts, vi, ThinkPads, and ErgoDox.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I used to run Red Hat Linux, then Fedora, and then Ubuntu on my servers, and for few years I ran Linux as my daily driver on ThinkPads. Then I switched to MacBooks for eight years.

    A few years ago I started migrating my servers to OpenBSD and almost a year ago I switched to OpenBSD on all my computers.

    Why BSD? It’s simpler than Linux and macOS. And I like it.

  3. What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?

    I run OpenBSD -stable on my desktop, laptop, and all my servers. It’s the simplest OS for my needs. It has everything in base: X11, cwm, xterm, tmux, vi, sh.

    Its well-documented man pages are always accurate and concise. You can learn OpenBSD offline. No Googling is required. It also has sane defaults. I feel comfortable and productive on a just-installed system. Zero configuration is required.

  4. What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?

    I use cwm. It’s a window manager from OpenBSD base. cwm is lightweight and has tiling mode.

  5. What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?

    Thank you for this question. Quick answer: the kernel.

    This is really deep.

    Unix’s nature is composability, so if we are talking about userland, then my web development workflow depends upon few dozens of programs from /usr/bin. Let me list them in no particular order: grep, sed, tr, cut, paste, awk, echo, sort, uniq, join, column, fmt, expand, cat, diff, comm, od, vis, uconv, jot, bc, spell.

    I pipe them all day long. Those are my “text editor.”

    I use combinations of /usr/bin programs for everything from managing files, passwords, archives, to you-name-it.

    The complete list of GUI programs I depend on is much shorter: cwm, xterm, and Firefox. Right. Just three.

  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My default workstation is a ThinkPad X1 Carbon. It’s docked most of the time, so I can use it with a 24″ display and my favorite keyboard. The keyboard is ErgoDox EZ and that’s the only irreplaceable piece of hardware. šŸ™‚ Learn more here.

    I run my OpenBSD servers on Vultr and OpenBSD Amsterdam

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    It’s cwm, xterm, tmux, vi, and Firefox.

Interview conducted August 13, 2018


The Linux Setup is a feature where I interview people about their Linux setups. The concept is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from this site. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line.

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