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I have an old laptop and also a virtual machine that are running linux flavors. In addition to playing around with the OS, it's good to set them up so that they can do some basic stuff. The following tools serve as a basic setup to get me going. Here are a few linux customizations when setting up a new system to make it feel like home.
Got to have a good programming font that gets used in text editors and terminals. For this, my go-to font is JetBrainsMono Nerd Font. I configure my text editor and terminal to use this font.
I use the Nerd Font because it is a requirement for using the Starship prompt in the terminal.
Terminator is an alternative shell for your system. It allows you to split the screen and have multiple terminals running simultaneously. It's has served me well for the last several years. It should be available within your distribution's software manager application.
Really need to customize the terminal prompt. Starship is really good, especially if you use git.
VS Code is my go to editor when I need to do serious work. Some people don't like VS Code because it is an Electron application or because it doesn't match the look and feel of other software on their setup. But, when software is this good and can help me get work done... the software wins.
My one big tip is to turn on Settings Sync within VS Code. This uses Github to synchronize your settings between installations on different systems. It works awesome. This means when you log into another system all your extensions, themes, etc. all come along with you. Very nice.
Git is a distributed version control system. I use this to manage source code. I only install this if my plans on the additional machine involves source management.