Notes on setting up new computers

A humane computer in 2020

Computers should be safe, moral, sane, usable, and productive. From advertising to crashes to privacy problems to slave-made ingredients, they mostly aren’t.

It’s very hard to do much about the hardware, but the Free and Open Source communities have made it possible to have a fairly good computer desktop.

Screen capture with one window of corgi pictures, one window of an editor for this blog post, one window with a picture of an earlier version of my desk, and some screen background showing a star chart of Orion in black on red.

This is what my desktop looks like. With side-by-side 4K monitors, four generous, roughly square pages fit side by side.

While updating how I configure a desktop or laptop computer, I thought about why this configuration is important to me. I came up Yet Another Computer User Bill of Rights1:

Other requirements are perhaps less universal:

Given the traffic my ergonomic sit-stand desk posts still get, somebody will want to read how I’ve tackled these other requirements. I’m starting by publishing my instructions, and hope to follow up with more by topic. These followups will be helpful if you

Many of these things are doable on Mac, Windows, and other closed platforms, so don’t despair if you haven’t yet taken advantage of the Year of Linux on the Desktop.