How to install a Linux computer the way I like it


The following explains how to install a machine just the way I like it. The same instructions work for a remote machine e.g. on Digital Ocean, as a local Linux laptop. Some configuration files (e.g. ssh keys) are obviously private so I don't share them here.

After installing the base OS the whole process takes about an hour.

Disk partitions

I install from scratch on every OS release, alternating between two 16G+ partitions, and using a third partition /localbackup to transfer data between the two (and for backups). I don't bother to keep a separate /home partition because of ever-changing user configuration files.

Base OS

Generally Ubuntu or Ubuntu derivative like Mint.

Update with:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

And reboot.

Create my user

sudo adduser --disabled-password tcorbettclark


Add tcorbettclark to the sudo Linux group by editing /etc/group

Remove need for passwords for sudo group using visudo to set:


Once confirmed I can login remotely as tcorbettclark, edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config to disable password login and disable root login.

Restart ssh daemon:

sudo systemctl restart ssh


sudo apt-get install ntp

And check after a while that ntpq reports successful time syncs.

Fish shell

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fish-shell/release-2
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fish
chsh -s /usr/bin/fish
mkdir -p ~/.config/fish/functions
cp fish/functions/* ~/.config/fish/functions/
cp fish/ ~/.config/fish/


Create the .ssh folder with

su - tcorbettclark
mkdir .ssh
chmod 700 .ssh

Add DSA and RSA public and private keys, and create ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Configure preferences (e.g. SSH fowarding) with

cp ssh/config ~/.ssh/

Reduce permissions for ~/.ssh files with

chmod 600 .ssh/*

Note that all private keys should be encrypted using e.g.:

openssl pkcs8 -topk8 -v2 des3 -in ~/.ssh/id_rsa.old -out ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Setup ssh-agent

Once after reboot, start an ssh-agent and store the SSH_AUTH_SOCK in a fish universal environment variable:

set -Ux SSH_AUTH_SOCK (fish -c (ssh-agent -c)'; echo $SSH_AUTH_SOCK')

(Note that we have explicitly told tmux to not override this. See tmux.conf)

Add keys to the agent with


Install Mosh

Install the mosh-server

sudo apt-get install mosh

If needed, install better fonts e.g. in Secure Shell Chrome plugin, set the user-css to

Then set the font-family to "Source Code Pro for Powerline".

Setup Tmux

Use tmux-next with

sudo add-apt-repository -yu ppa:pi-rho/dev
sudo apt-get update -yqqu
sudo apt-get install -yqqu python-software-properties software-properties-common
sudo apt-get install -yqq tmux-next

Create ~/.tmux.conf:

cp tmux/tmux.conf ~/.tmux.conf

Python, pip, pew, etc

Install latest pip system-wide using:

curl "" -o ""
sudo python

Install pew (and virtualenv) only for my user:

pip install pew --user

Update PATH to include user install packages made by pew:

set --universal fish_user_paths $fish_user_paths /home/tcorbettclark/.local/bin

Configure pip:

cp pip/pip.conf ~/.config/pip/pip.conf

Prepare to use pythonz to manage Python installations. See

sudo apt-get install build-essential zlib1g-dev libbz2-dev libssl-dev libreadline-dev libncurses5-dev libsqlite3-dev libgdbm-dev libdb-dev libexpat-dev libpcap-dev liblzma-dev libpcre3-dev

Now just use e.g. pew new -p (pew locate_python 3.6.0) test to create virtualenvs with specific versions of python.


Get up to date version of node:

curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs


sudo apt-get install gcc python-dev
pip install mercurial --user

Add my hg user settings

cp hg/hgrc ~/.hgrc


sudo apt-get install git
git config --global "Timothy Corbett-Clark"
git config --global ""
git config --global credential.helper cache
git config --global core.editor "subl -n -w"
git config --global color.ui true

Cloud 9

Follow their instructions.

Dropbox for file syncing, sharing, and backups

Install Dropbox by following their instructions.

To speed up synchronising, seed the Dropbox directory from a local copy.

Encfs for encrypting files e.g. on Dropbox

I use Encfs to encrypt certain files stored on Dropbox.

Mount my encrypted folder:

mkdir -p /home/tcorbettclark/Private
encfs /home/tcorbettclark/Dropbox/Private /home/tcorbettclark/Private

Note that absolute paths must be used.

When needed, nmount with:

fusermount -u /home/tcorbettclark/Dropbox/Private

Sublime text editor

Download and install Sublime Text:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/sublime-text-2
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sublime-text

Add the licence key by cutting and pasting into the sublime menu from:


Define my preferred keybindings by seeding from

Install sublime's own package manager by following instructions on

Then add Sublime packages, e.g.:

Then set my preferences from

Also open a coffeescript file, go to Preferences->Settings - More->Syntax Specific - User and add { "tab_size": 2 }

Also may need to edit the "binDir" setting in CoffeeScript.sublime-settings.


Allow meta-forward-word to work, and set fonts and colours:

  • Edit.Keyboard Shortcuts - disable all menu access
  • Set font to Ubuntu Mono size 11


sudo apt-get install htop jq