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Update: I am not using NixOS as my main OS anymore, so I am not going to maintain this repository. Please feel free to fork away!

Configuration of my workstation and servers

This repository forms my home network; including services, applications and configurations for my workstations (one desktop and one laptop), and the home server I use mainly for the backups.

The overall setup is specific to my home network; however, feel free to steal any parts that look useful to you.

Features

Network

  • Uses Tailscale for connectivity.
  • Configurations are deployed via morph.

Workstation(s)

  • Keyboard and command line oriented
    • i3, kakoune, qutebrowser and lots of shell utilities
  • Lightweight, fast, simple
    • No bloated DE's or "fully-featured" applications.
    • JavaScript disabled by default.
    • Single codebase describing the whole system.
  • Bleeding-edge
    • Closely follows nixpkgs and home-manager HEAD
  • (Almost) Free as in freedom
    • Explicitly allow non-free packages in 'system.nix' (look for 'allowUnfreePredicate')

Motivation

I follow the philosophy of "things should do one thing and do it well", so I try to avoid complex tools. I found a few rule-of-thumbs which helps me decide if a tool is sufficiently complex or not. I try not to use something if it:

  • .. does window-management, but is not a window manager. (editors with frames, terminals with splits, browsers with tabs etc.)
  • .. has an integrated editor. (usually GUI applications and curses TUI's.)
  • .. does not have a form of text-based configuration.
  • .. requires a lot of configuration/customisation to use.
  • .. not free (as in freedom).

It's pretty hard to find applications fitting all of those criteria; so sometimes I resort to disabling features, preferably with a configuration flag, or simply by disabling the relevant keybindings.

Docs

Below are some tips for the tools I'm using, and my rationale for using them. They are not comprehensive, so consult their own documentation to use them effectively.


Operating System: NixOS

All this configuration revolves around using NixOS operating system and the Nix programming language.

Nix provides a declarative way to declare your system, and has enough theory behind to have purity and rollbacks trivial.

The way I use Nix/NixOS sometimes slightly differs from the common usage:

  • I use home-manager to manage my dotfiles. This gives me a fully-reproducible and programmable system.
  • I do not use /etc/nixos/configuration.nix. The system activation scripts are built and deployed via morph.
  • I don't use channels and NIX_PATH. I understand the rationale behind them, but I think they make things less obviously deterministic (action at a distance). So I prefer to always pin nixpkgs and don't use < ... > syntax at all.
  • I follow the nixpkgs-unstable branch of nixpkgs. The main reason is that I like to have the latest & greatest packages on my system. I found it quite stable, and I can just reboot the system to a previous generation if there is a major issue.

Window Manager: i3

I use i3 as the window manager. It is fast and does its jobs well.

i3 is my only window manager. So; I do not use terminal-multiplexers, applications with tabs/panes/frames/buffers etc.


Shell: fish

I use fish. I have some amount of customisation, but nothing unusual. Comes with a handful of useful plugins.

I might switch back to zsh or bash because I am more used to their syntax.


Terminal Emulator: kitty

I use kitty, with minimal features. I find it sufficiently simple, easy to configure, and it has a hints feature I use quite frequently. However its main developer is a bit mean, so I am keen to switch to a new terminal emulator; however I couldn't figure out a easy way to get hints without using tmux.


Editor: kakoune

I spend a lot of time editing text, so it took me quite a long time to settle on using kakoune. I think it's the only usable editor adhering to the UNIX philosophy.

Surprisingly, I only have about 30 lines of configuration for it, they just add a few keybindings, make it always use the system clipboard, and change a few visuals.

Even if I am a software developer using multiple programming ecosystems daily; I do not much programming-specific configuration on my editor. I use kakoune solely for editing code, and have an another terminal window open which runs/typechecks the project continuously. It does support LSP for some languages, but I rarely rely on it.


Web Browser: qutebrowser

I use qutebrowser as my web browser. It is a keyboard-oriented minimal web browser using QtWebEngine (WebKit). The only customisation I make makes it use separate windows as tabs and makes it use kakoune as editor. Also, javascript is disabled by default, see the keybindings to disable it per-host basis (or just modify the configuration).

Actually, I would prefer to use Firefox with some addons & customisation to make it keyboard-oriented & disabling tabs. However currently there is no easy way to configure Firefox easily & install addons without using the GUI. There are some ongoing work adding this functionality to nixpkgs, I will consider switching when they are merged.


Password Manager: pass

I use password-store to manage my passwords and OTP's, and use its git integration to sync them to a private Git repository.

Checkout its documentation for the usage, I don't have any special configuration for it. However, there are a few helpers:

  • super+p keybinding open a menu with your passwords, and you can choose to copy either the password or the OTP token (if available) to your clipboard.
  • There is a qr2pass script on this repo which will take a screenshot of your screen containing a barcode for an OTP and adds it to the given password file; so you can use it to generate OTP tokens.
  • There is an additional pass rotate command which shows you the oldest password you have.

Other tools

I also use tons of other tools for various purposes.

Checkout ./home-modules/workstation.nix to see them all.