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

Virtualization. Despite being around for years it has suddenly become a hot topic today and it seems that everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. Sun is no different.

Virtualization has been around since the mainframe days but virtualization as we usually see today started with VMware (to the best of my knowledge). VMware has had available for years a few different products that allowed you to dedicate and entire machine to hosting virtual machines or simply run other operating systems on your desktop PC. Today’s computers are more powerful than ever before and even the cheapest of computers today typically has some power to spare. With the abundance of computers with excess power continuing to grow, it is no wonder virtualization has gotten to popular.

About a year ago VMware noticed that virtualization was getting more popular and decided that then was the time to really hook people. They released a free virtualization product (and since then some more) allowing people to run virtual machines on their computer for free.

Soon other virtualization techniques came to market, many of them also free. VirtualBox is one of them and is a relatively new entry into the virtualization market but is already showing some great promise. Unlike some other virtualization products, VirtualBox is cross platform covering the usual suspects like Windows, Linux and Mac. Of course, being from Sun it also runs on Sun’s Solaris and OpenSolaris operating systems.

VirtualBox, while young, shows great promise and it is available for free (for personal using and testing). It brings together some of the things I love about VMware. Simple to manage, cross platform and easy migration from one host machine to another. Some of what VirtualBox adds is native iSCSI initiator support, Remote Desktop Protocol support for running virtual machines and the ability to run on Windows, Linux, Mac and Solaris. It even supports the seemless mode seen in VMware’s Fusion and Parallels.

If you’re looking for a free way to get into virtualization then give VirtualBox a shot. I think you’ll be impressed.