Sushruta's Blog

My Writing Set Up

I think the set up of a person's computer (or laptop) tells a lot about their personality. One's laptop (okay, I'm going to stick with this term) is an extension of themselves. It is like a thinking man's horoscope -- one look at someone's desktop and I can understand quite a few things about them.

Below, I present my writing set up. As someone who loves writing, and often spends significant time doing so, this is very important to me. It is, of course, subject to change. The only thing constant is change. I will update it as I see fit.

Machine

Hardware

Model: HP laptop (no idea about the model)
CPU: Dual-Core Intel i5-7200U CPU
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
Memory: 8.1 GB

Operating System

elementary OS 5.1.7 Hera x86_64 with Pantheon DE: I have been a loyal Windows user for ~10 years, before I finally made the jump to Linux at the end of 2020. After my fair share of distro-hopping, I have settled with elementary OS. It is fast, has very little bloat, and has a magnificent app store. Its file manager and terminals are weak, and its weird handling of tray icons are an inconvenience, but I am hopeful that they will be solved in its next version (which is supposed to be out soon and I can't wait any more!!).

My Writing Tools

Foreword

In this aspect, I have jumped (and continue to jump) software the most. Getting that one system that is right for you is tough. This is compounded by my personal boycott of Electron apps -- most writing apps are written in Electron for some weird reason. But, after spending six months or so (on Linux, and more than 3 years on Windows) experimenting with almost two dozen writing apps, I have finally settled on my choice of open source writing apps.

Before I proceed, I must state my writing flow and requirements:

  • I usually write on my laptop, but I often read my writings on my Android phone, so cross-platform compatibility is a must.
  • The software must be open source. My writing is my own creation, and I must truly own it.
  • NO ELECTRON (and I can't stress this enough).
  • Should ideally support Markdown (and almost every writing application allows that).
  • Please don't be slow. Please.

Writing Software I Use

With my requirements all laid out, here are the weapons in my writing arsenal:

  1. LibreOffice Writer: I use it for writing stuff where I need perfect control over the formatting, for example: university projects, test papers, etc. Rarely needed on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Apostrophe: This is a beautiful (important feature, sometimes) markdown editor, which I used to replace (Electron-based) Typora. I use this for most of my university and professional works. It is pretty, reasonably fast, legible, and can export to almost every format under the sun. The only thing that I miss from Typora is the abundance of themes, but hopefully that would come soon too. It is apparently merging with another popular software called Marker, and that can only be good news. Fingers crossed.
  3. ghostwriter: I actually started using ghostwriter as a replacement for FocusWriter (which is good but has no way to change the font size) as my go-to distraction-free writer. ghostwriter is not always my preferred writer, but I often find myself using it when writing blog posts. Press F11 and the entire screen is black, with white texts on it and nothing else. Maybe I will use it more, and it might very well replace Apostrophe.
  4. QOwnNotes + Nextcloud Notes: This is probably my most important piece in this machinery. I fire up QOwnNotes and create a new note. Then I use Nextcloud to automatically sync it to my mobile, where I can access the Notes app to view/edit it. On my laptop, I can use QOwnNotes' own editor, or Apostrophe or ghostwriter (depending on the purpose or my mood) to edit it. Neither of these apps are perfect on their own, but together, they are perfection epitomized.
  5. OpenTodoList: This might be surprising to many people, but OpenTodoList has been quite good for me for sharing small notes that I would need to access from my mobile phone. Think of it as my own replacement for Google Keep. Although, I must say that I absolutely hate the dated UI (looks like it belongs in the 90s).

Other Writing Software

  1. KIT Scenarist: This is a scriptwriting software that I use to write movie scripts. I sync it with other people using Dropbox (proprietary, but it's stupid-people-friendly).
  2. ThiefMD: I haven't properly given this a go yet, but this looks good enough for writing long pieces like thesis papers or books. It has a proper hierarchy and outlining feature, which can be vital for writing multi-chapter stuff.
  3. Markdown Today: This is a web-based open-source journal that connects to my Dropbox. Available on laptop via the browser and can be installed as a PWA on mobile. I probably don't need this, but hey, it ain't biting me.
  4. Etherpad: I use it for collaborative writing, which is not a very common thing for me. I also use Dropbox Paper (proprietary) when I am absolutely forced to, because Etherpad strongly warns against trusting it to keep your writings safe for a long time.
  5. TiddlyWiki: I use it as my own personal second brain, where I dump the things that I need to recollect later. These are mainly personal non-sense that have no reason of taking up storage on my Nextcloud/Dropbox. TiddlyWiki, which I host on TiddlyHost, has a fantastic tagging system, which helps me in making a nice-looking personal (and private) homepage for myself. Since it's web-based, I can also access it from my mobile phone. I actually installed MindForger for this very purpose, but I never got around to using it before I started on TiddlyWiki. Some day, maybe.
  6. Zim Desktop Wiki: I make wikis for mainly work-related stuff, which I then sync (using Dropbox) to other people. I have used this mainly as a knowledge dump for professional things, as a sort of reference while writing. I have also head about CherryTree, which I might check out on a later date.

In Closing

In closing, I really have nothing to so. I wrote this as a way to actually check up on the pieces of software that are there on my system and why and how I use them. Also, writing this made me not go to sleep in the morning, so yay! Anyway, I hope this allows you to find some good pieces of software for your own use. But, please, always use a piece of software yourself before forming an opinion on it. I have discovered many of these through my own trial-and-error methods. Some like it, some don't. It's okay because it works for me. So go out on the World Wide Web and find the system that works for you. Good luck, you're going to need it.

#tech

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