RetroCode UK

Published Date Dec 15, 2014 Reading Time ~3 minutes RSS Feed Software Development Productivity

My Developer Essentials

IMPORTANT: This content is over 1 year old, and may now be obsolete, irrelevant and/or no longer accurate.

In this entry I’m just going to mention the applications that I use in my working day.  Partly just as a reminder to myself what to install when I try a different Linux installation and it’s here on my website.  If you find the list useful, or have any better / alternative suggestions then feel free to comment below.

Note: this is a working list, and may be updated from time-to-time.

The list is as follows (in no particular order):

  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • ClassicMenu Indicator
  • Shutter
  • GIMP
  • FileZilla
  • Thunderbird Mail
  • TeamViewer
  • PHPStorm
  • Sublime Text
  • Fish
  • Terminator
  • Zeal
  • Vagrant
  • VirtualBox
  • Japanese MozC Keyboard Input

This list doesn’t include obvious tools like Grunt, NPM, LAMP, Phing, PHPUnit, XDebug, et al as they will often be covered with the Vagrant provisioning scripts or will be useful on a site-by-site basis.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

I've tried Mint, Fedora, Red Hat and other Linux derivatives, but always gone back to Ubuntu.  Especially now multi-monitors work for me out of the box, and Intel 4000 drivers run without issues, I've found it very stable and easy OS to use.  I've even grown accustomed to Unity and while I don't love it, I don't have any problems with it.

Classic Menu Indicator

This is just a handy tool to remind me what I have installed as I generally use Unity to use most applications I use daily.


This may be built-in to Ubuntu, and it's really handy for creating screenshots and adding quick highlights to areas of a screenshot.


Only recently have I started using this more - it now has an option to integrate the tool-bars into a single window which makes it much more user-friendly to me.  It's also now much quicker and easier to use.


I use standard (S)FTP less often nowadays as more of the sites I work on use deployment scripts to update.  However, this application is still on the essential install list.

Thunderbird Mail

Wishing for a nicer alternative to this, but Thunderbird is perfectly adequate.


It's not often that I use this, but it can be a quick way to access and diagnose issues on remote computers, such as sorting out someone's Git merge conflicts.


I’ve gone backwards and forwards with this one for a while - when I finally moved on from DreamWeaver (around 10 years ago) I tried all kinds of IDEs and text editors from NetBeans and Eclipse through to Atom and more recently Sublime Text.  Out of the alternatives I do really like Sublime Text, but it simply lacks some of the more convenient standard features like database connections and Git.

Fish shell

Previously I was using oh-my-zsh which I really liked, but recently got turned on to Fish shell.  It’s simple, efficient, and fun to use.


This is the best terminal emulator that I’ve found.  It allows you to easily add and resize panels and potentially save predefined panel configurations.


This is a handy off-line reference for all the major frameworks.  Worth checking out.


Definitely Vagrant should be almost at number one in the essential list for web developers.


Not only is this the essential companion for Vagrant, but also an essential tool for the odd time when you may need to run a virtual Windows instance to check out a site on Internet Explorer.

Japanese MozC Keyboard Input

Not a web developer’s tool by any means, but this one is an essential for me.