Over the years, a few pieces of software have really impressed me. They’re not just refined, they go a step beyond their competitors to produce a more elegant experience. Here is my short list.
Vim – if I were stuck on a desert island with only one program, it’d be Vim. At least I could write the rest of the applications I’d need in a good editor.
Zsh – Bash’s big brother. Better completion, more customizable, great builtins, just as fast.
Ruby – An elegant, expressive programming language, suitable for almost any purpose. They hype is justified. And please, look at it separately from Rails.
Linux kernel – If you ask me, this Unix clone has surpassed its master. A free, stable, modular kernel with a huge support base, what more could you ask for?
Gentoo Linux – A remarkable way to package an OS. Gentoo gives you the flexibility and power to turn the Linux kernel into a full, beautiful environment without the worries of many other distributions.
Amarok – I keep discovering more thoughtful features of this music player. It can move audio files to your collection with any naming format you choose. It has great dynamic playlisting, podcasting, and net radio support. I couldn’t begin to list everything, but it still doesn’t feel bloated.
Firefox – No other browser to this day has given developers such a good platform for improving the client-side web experience. Since the web might actually move us towards the “thin client” dreams of old, this is increasingly important. Specific addons I couldn’t live without – Adblock, Noscript, Firebug. And then there’s Greasemonkey, a platform on a platform for a platform. You could call it web3.
All free software.
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