How I consume music

The way I buy and consume music has changed recently. So far this year I’ve only bought 5 records (the three that Rough Trade send me, plus two Belle & Sebastian records that I pre-ordered last year). All my other music discovery has been via Spotify, and I find I’m using it more on my phone now, with a huge big playlist of new discoveries being the soundtrack to my commute. I also spent most of January and February listening to vinyl and CDs rather than music on my computer (at least when in my study – I still need digital music for when I’m travelling).

This month I’ve been doing an experiment around listening to all my old digital music, and trying to rediscover old things rather than buying new ones. I’ve been building up a library of MP3s since I got this computer, and it’s now up to about 400Gb of music, which would take several months to play. I’ve had this playlist on shuffle for about a week now, and I’m fairly sure I can manage to hold off buying too much more new music this year based on the amount of great things I’ve rediscovered that I totally forgot I owned.

Setting up new Ubuntu computers

I’ve had to set up a few Ubuntu desktop machines recently, and I thought it was worth documenting what I install on each one, and how I automate those installations as much as possible. I wrote about this a few years ago but so much has changed with my setup that I thought it was worth revisiting these instructions.

Generally I’ll always install from USB, and from the latest desktop version. I make my installer in Ubuntu, using Disk Image Writer and boot the computer from that. From 18.04 onwards I’ll be using the minimal installation feature (which I love), but for now assume that I just go with the defaults for everything.

Once it has finished installing, I’ll go through the process of getting everything I want on to the machine.

Install dropbox

I download the latest version from https://www.dropbox.com/install?os=lnx and then type:

sudo dpkg -i dropbox <hit the tab key>

I have a lot of files on Dropbox, so I let this sync while I’m doing the rest.

Add a script to make updating software easier

First all install something I’ll need to make the script work:

sudo apt install byobu

Then I’ll create a new file called updateall

#!/bin/bash
echo "updateall v.1.2 for Ubuntu"
#Run this as a normal user. Your admin password will be asked for if required.
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt full-upgrade -y
sudo apt autoremove -y
sudo purge-old-kernels -y
echo "The script has now finished running."

I move it to /usr/local/bin/ then make it executable with sudo chmod -X update all.

Add some software from the Ubuntu repositories

sudo updateall
sudo apt install git gimp vlc ubuntu-restricted-extras build-essential hexchat openssh-server gnome-tweak-tool tilix testdrive tasksel gnome-session
sudo snap install --classic atom
sudo snap install spotify

Install tails-installer

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tails-team/tails-installer
sudo apt update
sudo apt install tails-installer   

Install pandoc

wget https://github.com/jgm/pandoc/releases/download/1.17.0.2/pandoc-1.17.0.2-1-amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i pandoc-1.17.0.2-1-amd64.deb
sudo apt install texlive

See here for more on how I configure and use Pandoc.

Cosmetic tweaks

Reduce dock size to 24.

Change desktop wallpaper.

Log out, and choose a vanilla Gnome session from the chooser.

Browse to https://extensions.gnome.org/local/ and install some extensions. The ones I go for are Alternate Tab, Gravatar, Places Status Indicator, windowNavigator and Workspace Indicator.

Go to Settings --> Security and Privacy and turn off all “phone home” functionality.