There are a lot of well known projects, and hidden gems, which aid in your productivity; this project aims to install the best of them to make life a little easier.

  1. For everybody
    1. Compressed RAM
    2. File backup & restore between rebuilds
  2. For command line users
    1. Terminator
    2. CDPATH
    3. Oh My Zsh
    4. Antigen
    5. HTTPie
    6. The Silver Searcher
    7. Tree
    8. Jq
    9. fd
    10. bat
    11. htop
    12. Glances
  3. For GUI desktop users
    1. Pre-pinned applications
    2. Choice of dock position
    3. Seahorse
  4. For developers
    1. IntelliJ IDEA IDE
    2. Visual Studio Code
    3. EditorConfig
    4. Git aliases
    5. Git-GUI
    6. Gitk
    7. Meld
    8. Git Credential Manager for Mac and Linux
    9. Hub
    10. Postman
  5. For containerized development
    1. Docker
    2. ctop
    3. Kubernetes
    4. Minikube
    5. Helm
    6. Kompose
    7. kops
  6. For Java developers
    1. Open JDK
    2. Maven
    3. Maven Notifier
    4. IntelliJ IDEA plugins
    5. IntelliJ code style
    6. IntelliJ inspection profile
    7. SDKMAN!
  7. For Node.js developers
    1. Node.js runtime
    2. Pre-installed global packages
    3. IDE support
    4. IntelliJ code style
  8. For Python developers
    1. Pyenv version manager
    2. Pipenv package manager
    3. Python plugin for Visual Studio Code
    4. Python plugin for IntelliJ IDEA
  9. For Go developers
    1. Go SDK
    2. Go environment variables
    3. Go plugins for IDEs
  10. For Ansible developers
    1. Molecule Wrapper Zsh support

For everybody

Compressed RAM

Website: https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/blockdev/zram.txt

Unless you have 16GB of RAM you’re probably going to struggle to run VirtualBox, your IDE, a Maven build, your application, and a few services in Docker at the same time.

Enabling RAM compression in the virtual machine allows you to run more things at once.

It’s so fast there’s no reason not to enable it by default.

File backup & restore between rebuilds

Website: https://rsync.samba.org

One of the advantages of using a virtual machine is it’s easy to get back to a clean working state by rebuilding the virtual machine.

However, you want to keep your user-specific setup, and your workspace with all the repositories you’ve cloned.

This project uses rsync to backup selected files and folders from the client virtual machine to a separate persistent virtual disk on the host machine.

When the virtual machine is rebuilt, these files and folders are copied back to the new client virtual machine.

The following are some of the files and folders backed-up by default:

  • /home/vagrant/workspace/

    • Put all your projects here
  • /home/vagrant/.gitconfig
  • /home/vagrant/.ssh/ (except the authorized_keys file)
  • /home/vagrant/.gnupg/
  • /home/vagrant/.m2/ (except the repository and wrapper directories)

Caution: the followings directories are excluded from the backup by default: .bin, .molecule, .tmp, bin, build, node_modules, target.

Note: you can find your backup under: /var/persistent/home/vagrant/.

Notice: we accept no responsibility for files lost due to a failure of the backup/restore process. We recommend you push your work to your source control server before rebuilding your virtual machine. We also recommend you manually backup important keys and certificates (e.g. SSH, GPG, X.509) on your host machine.

For command line users


Website: http://gnometerminator.blogspot.co.uk/p/introduction.html

A highly customizable terminal emulator that supports splitting the screen into grids of separate console windows (as well as supporting multiple tabs).

Terminator terminal emulator

Tip: right click on the window to bring up the menu to split the screen or open a new tab.


Website: http://zsh.sourceforge.net/Intro/intro_13.html

This environment variable changes how tab completion and the cd command works.

We’ve added the /home/vagrant/workspace directory to CDPATH; this enables you to cd into any sub-directory of /home/vagrant/workspace from any directory in the file system.

For example:

# Create a directory under /home/vagrant/workspace
mkdir -p /home/vagrant/workspace/my-awesome-project

# Change directory somewhere else
cd /etc

# Use tab completion (from /etc)
cd my-awe<TAB>

# Change directory to my-awesome-project (from /etc)
cd my-awesome-project

# Check you're in the right directory

This makes it really quick and easy to access your project directories.

Oh My Zsh

Website: http://ohmyz.sh

Rather than a specific command, Oh My Zsh changes your default shell from bash to zsh, and customizes the zsh shell.

Oh My Zsh gives you:

  • Better tab completion (like expanding partial names in path).
  • Themes to enhance your command prompt (like showing the current git branch).
  • Plugins to enable command specific tab completion (e.g. mvn and git).

zsh terminal output

Try this:

cat /u/s/a/vim<TAB>

# Expands to:
cat /usr/share/applications/vim.desktop

Tip: tab-completion for command options often only works after you’ve specified the -. For example grep TAB produces no suggestions, but grep - TAB produces 160 suggestions.


Website: https://github.com/zsh-users/antigen

Oh My Zsh has a wide selection of plugins, but sometimes you want to install plugins from elsewhere. This is where Antigen comes in, Antigen is a plugin manager for Zsh and can install Zsh plugins from Git repositories.

Note: the Antigen commands don’t make persistent changes. Any change you make to the theme/plugins will be lost the next time you launch the shell. To make changes permanent you need to run the Antigen commands as part of the initialisation of your shell. To do this you either need to change the playbook.yml of this project and re-provision your VM, or run the Antigen commands from the .zshrc in your home directory.

You can find a list of third-party plugins at: https://github.com/unixorn/awesome-zsh-plugins#plugins


Website: https://httpie.org

HTTPie is a command line HTTP client. HTTPie is somewhat like cURL or Wget, but designed more for interactive use than use in shell scripting. It has a more intuitive command line interface, JSON support and syntax highlighting.


The Silver Searcher

Website: http://geoff.greer.fm/ag

If you’ve used Linux you’ve almost certainly used grep, but you’ve probably never heard of ag (The Silver Searcher).

While grep is a great general purpose tool, ag is a specific tool for finding matching text in a directory tree and outputting the results in a human readable format.

Below is the output of the command ag java on this project:

The Silver Searcher terminal output

Tip: if you have multiple pages of output you may want to use ag --pager=less PATTERN.


Website: http://mama.indstate.edu/users/ice/tree

The tree command is similar to find . but outputs in a graphical tree format.

Below is the output of the command tree on this project:

Tree terminal output

Tip: if you have multiple pages of output you may want to use tree -C | less -R.


Website: https://stedolan.github.io/jq

The jq command would be worth installing just to be able to use it to pretty print JSON in colour, but jq is amazing at manipulating JSON as well.

Jq output

Tip: to pretty print a JSON file run jq '.' PATH_TO_JSON_FILE.


Website: https://github.com/sharkdp/fd

fd is a simple, fast and user-friendly alternative to find.

It’s much better for the most common use-case (i.e. finding files/directories by name) e.g:


This is obviously easier than find -iname '*molecule*'.

fd is still capable of handling more advanced use-cases as well, e.g. you can specify the type of file or a command to execute.


Website: https://github.com/sharkdp/bat

bat is a more advanced alternative to cat with support for syntax-highlighting, line numbers, searching and paging.

e.g. running bat ~/.bashrc will give you:



Website: http://hisham.hm/htop

The htop command is essentially a top replacement with a better looking user interface and a few more features.

htop terminal output


Website: https://nicolargo.github.io/glances

The glances application shows a broader view of what’s going on on your system than top or htop provide. In addition to RAM and CPU usage, you can see disk I/O, network I/O and warnings/alerts.

Glances terminal output

For GUI desktop users

Pre-pinned applications

No more fishing through menus to run the applications you use the most. The provisioning script pre-pins selected applications to the dock so they’re ready to use.

Pre-pinned applications

Choice of dock position

Each user can choose whether they want the dock bar on the left, right or bottom of the screen.

Dock position
Examples of left and bottom dock positions


Website: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Seahorse

Graphical user interface for managing your keys, and a SSH agent to save you having to put in your SSH password more than once in the same session.


For developers


Website: https://www.jetbrains.com/idea

In my opinion IntelliJ IDEA is the best IDE whether you’re working in Java, Python, Node.js or Go (Node.js and Go support requires IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Edition).

The Community Edition is excellent at what it does but it’s quite limited in support for languages and frameworks. You need to pay for the Ultimate Edition if you want support for common tools/frameworks such as JavaEE and the Spring Framework. The relatively small price for the Ultimate Edition is well worth the money.

By default the Community Edition is installed.


Visual Studio Code

Website: https://code.visualstudio.com

Great support for YAML, Markdown, HTML, CSS, LESS, SASS, JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, Python, Bash and many more.

Core languages have IntelliSense support for smart completion.

The built in debugger is very good and supports several languages.

Has good built-in support for Git; while, it’s missing a few features that you’d expect from a standalone Git client, it covers the normal development workflow.

Tip: click on the branch name in the bottom left corner to change/create branches.

Visual Studio Code editor window


Website: http://editorconfig.org

EditorConfig is a project that defines a common configuration file supported by many IDEs and text editors (some require a plugin installed).

The EditorConfig configuration file defines the basic editor preferences for particular files and file types (e.g. charset, line endings, indent, trailing whitespace).

This development environment installs the EditorConfig plugin for Visual Studio Code as part of the provisioning; IntelliJ IDEA supports EditorConfig without the need for a plugin.

For an example of an .editorconfig file see the root directory of this project.

Git aliases

Git aliases save you a lot of typing and make it easy to execute more complex Git commands:

  • View summary lines for recent commits

    git lsgit log --pretty=format:"%C(yellow)%h%Cred%d\\ %Creset%s%Cblue\\ [%cn]" --decorate

  • View summary lines and list changed files for recent commits

    git llgit log --pretty=format:"%C(yellow)%h%Cred%d\\ %Creset%s%Cblue\\ [%cn]" --decorate --numstat

  • View summary lines and dates for recent commits

    git ldsgit log --pretty=format:"%C(yellow)%h\\ %ad%Cred%d\\ %Creset%s%Cblue\\ [%cn]" --decorate --date=short

  • View tree of recent commits (all branches)

    git ltgit log --oneline --graph --decorate --all

  • Checkout an existing branch

    git cogit checkout

  • Create a new branch

    git cbgit checkout -b

  • Amend the last commit and change the commit message

    git cagit commit --amend

  • Amend the last commit without changing the commit message

    git canegit commit --amend --no-edit

  • Rebase the current branch onto origin/master

    git romgit rebase origin/master

  • Rebase the current branch onto origin/develop

    git rodgit rebase origin/develop

  • Push the current branch to origin HEAD

    git pogit push origin HEAD

  • Force push the current branch to origin HEAD

    git pofgit push origin HEAD --force

  • Switch to the master branch pull changes and prune remote branches

    git cmpgit checkout master && git pull -p

  • Switch to the develop branch pull changes and prune remote branches

    git cdpgit checkout develop && git pull -p

  • Pop the most recent stash

    git popgit stash pop

  • Reformat the recent changes as Markdown release notes

    git release-notesgit log --color --pretty=format:'%s%Cred%d%Creset' --decorate | sed -E 's/(.*) \\((\\#[0-9]+)\\)/* \\2: \\1/' | tac -


Website: https://git-scm.com/docs/git-gui

Git-GUI and Gitk (see below) are companion applications that together make the most fully featured open source GUI Git client available for Linux.

Git-GUI is the commit dialog and the UI for performing remote operations.

Git GUI window

Generally, I’d advise only using Git-GUI when you need to amend a commit, the rest of the time you’re better off using the commit dialog in your editor/IDE.

Tip: run git gui in your Git working directory to launch Git-GUI.


Website: https://git-scm.com/docs/gitk

Gitk and Git-GUI (see above) are companion applications that together make the most fully featured open source GUI Git client available for Linux.

Gitk is the repository/history browser.

Gitk window

As you can see it’s not the prettiest application, but the other options are either not free for commercial use, require registration to download, or lack support for resetting the working branch to a particular commit.

While the built in diff viewer is a bit basic, it supports using Meld (see below) as an external diff viewer.

Tip: run gitk in your Git working directory to launch Gitk.

Gitk and Git-GUI are integrated, so once you’ve run one of the applications, you can launch the other from the menu bar.


Website: http://meldmerge.org

A GUI diff/merge tool with Git support.

Meld diff/merge tool

Tip: run meld . in your Git working directory to review your uncommitted changes.

Git Credential Manager for Mac and Linux

Website: https://github.com/Microsoft/Git-Credential-Manager-for-Mac-and-Linux

Stores credentials for Git version control securely. Useful if you want to write to a Git repository using HTTPS rather than SSH.

Note: if you use two-factor authentication with GitHub (you’d be crazy not to), you need to generate a personal access token with appropriate repository permissions. When using Git in the VM, enter this personal access token when prompted to enter your password (instead of entering your GitHub password).


Website: https://github.com/github/hub

Hub is a command line tool that wraps Git in order to extend it with extra features for GitHub.

Note: Hub only wraps Git when run from Zsh (it works using a shell alias), the actual Git executable is unchanged.

e.g. Cloning a GitHub repository

git clone Netflix/flamescope
# Equivalent to:
# git clone git@github.com:Netflix/flamescope.git

e.g. Creating a pull request

git pull-request -m "\
Pull request title here

Pull request body here.

e.g. Browse issues for current repository

git browse -- issues

Run the following to see all the extensions provided by hub:

man hub

To view more information about a specific extension run:

man hub-<subcommand>
# e.g.
man hub-pull-request


Website: https://www.getpostman.com

A user friendly tool for testing REST services.

Postman window

For containerized development


Website: https://www.docker.com

Solves the problem of handling dependencies and common configuration between development, build, test and production.

When using a Docker image, there’s no more worrying if you have the correct Java/Ruby/Python version installed, or is the JAVA_HOME set to the correct installation; all of that is provided in the Docker image, you just use it.

It’s also easy to build your own Docker images so you can get the same benefits with your own software.


Website: https://ctop.sh

ctop is the terminal based tool that provides a top like interface for container metrics. View CPU, memory, network I/O, and disk I/O for your Docker containers at a glance from your terminal.

ctop in terminal window


Website: http://kubernetes.io

Kubernetes is the leading solution for managing containerized applications in production.

Docker is great for running containerized applications locally, but you need something more to manage containerized applications across multiple servers. There’s Docker Swarm and Apache Mesos but the most popular solution is Kubernetes.

Kubernetes allows you to deploy services to a cluster of servers, to manage configuration, configure networking, perform rolling updates and much more.


Website: https://github.com/kubernetes/minikube

Minikube makes it easy to run a single node Kubernetes cluster in the development environment.

Give it a try by running the following from the terminal:

minikube start
minikube dashboard

Note: because we’re already running inside a VM we’re running Minikube with --vm-driver=none using a Zsh plugin.


Website: https://helm.sh

Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes. It makes it easier to use software built for Kubernetes.

Give it a try by running the following from the terminal:

# Start Minikube (if you haven't already)
minikube start

# Initialize helm (if you haven't already)
helm init

# Wait for tiller to be ready
# You can watch the tiller status be ready (1/1) by running:
kubectl get pods -w --namespace kube-system
# terminate with ctrl-c

# Install Apache Tomcat
helm install stable/tomcat

# helm will give the service a name <something>-tomcat
# you can access the tomcat by running:
http "$(minikube service --url <something>-tomcat)"
# You'll get a HTTP 404 response (we haven't provided a
# webarchive), but you'll see it's come from a
# `Apache-Coyote` server.


Website: http://kompose.io

Kompose is a conversion tool to go from Docker Compose to Kubernetes.

Give it a try by running the following from the terminal:

# Start Minikube (if you haven't already)
minikube start

# cd into a docker-compose project
# or use wget to download the following example compose file
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/kubernetes/kompose/master/examples/docker-compose-v3.yaml \
  -O docker-compose.yaml

# Bring up your services
kompose up

# Watch your services load
kubectl get pods -w
# terminate with ctrl-c

# Once you're done shutdown the services
kompose down

# Once you're done with the Minikube instance
minikube stop
minikube delete


Website: https://github.com/kubernetes/kops

Kubernetes operations (kops) helps you with production grade K8s installation, upgrades, and management. kops is the easiest way to get a production grade Kubernetes cluster up and running.

For Java developers

Open JDK

To get free patches for longer this project uses builds from AdoptOpenJDK.


Maven 3.5.4 is installed by default.

Note: Gradle is not installed as Gradle users are recommended to use the Gradle Wrapper.

Maven Notifier

Website: https://github.com/jcgay/maven-notifier

One for all you multi-taskers; if you like to check your email while waiting for a long build to finish, this extension will trigger a popup notification to let you know when the build is complete.

Maven Notifier popup

IntelliJ IDEA plugins

  • CheckStyle-IDEA for checking the code style of your Java source files.
  • Lombok to cut down boilerplate in your Java source code.
  • LogSupport2 to encourage logging best practice.

IntelliJ code style

GantSign Code Style has support for the following JVM languages:

IntelliJ inspection profile

The GantSign Inspection Profile has support for Java and Kotlin. This is a strict inspection profile intended for greenfield code.


Website: https://sdkman.io

SDKMAN! is a tool for managing parallel versions of multiple Software Development Kits. It’s similar to RVM but for Java, Groovy, Kotlin, Scala, Maven, Gradle and a bunch of other JVM based SDKs.

To switch Java version in the current shell:

sdk use java 8

To change the default Java version:

sdk default java 8

To install Gradle:

sdk install gradle

To play with GraalVM:

# List available versions
sdk list java

# Install latest GraalVM version
sdk install java 1.0.0-rc5-graal

# Switch to GraalVM in the current shell
sdk use java 1.0.0-rc5-graal

To list all the supported SDKs:

sdk list

For Node.js developers

Node.js runtime

This development environment comes with Node.js v10 installed.

Pre-installed global packages

To provide a better out of the box experience the following global packages come pre-installed.

IDE support

Visual Studio Code comes with excellent support for Node.js, JavaScript and TypeScript.

IntelliJ code style

GantSign Code Style has support for JavaScript based on JavaScript Standard Style.

For Python developers

Pyenv version manager

Website: https://github.com/pyenv/pyenv

Pyenv lets you install and switch between multiple versions of Python. Other tools such as Pipenv use Pyenv when they need a version of Python you don’t currently have installed.

Pipenv package manager

Website: https://docs.pipenv.org

Pipenv helps you manage a virtualenv for your projects as well as managing your packages. It will add/remove packages from your Pipfile as you install/uninstall packages. It also generates the Pipfile.lock for deterministic builds.

Python plugin for Visual Studio Code

This development environment comes with Microsoft’s excellent Python plugin for Visual Studio Code: ms-python.python.

Tip: launch Visual Studio Code from your Pipenv shell. This will give Visual Studio Code access to your virtualenv and let it install packages e.g. pylint, autopep8 and rope without needing sudo.

To launch Visual Studio Code from your Pipenv shell run the following commands:

cd your-python-project
pipenv shell
code .

Python plugin for IntelliJ IDEA

Depending whether you’re using the IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition or the Ultimate Edition a different plugin will be installed. If you’re using IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition the plugin installed will provide equivalent functionality to PyCharm Community Edition. If you’re using IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Edition the plugin installed will provide equivalent functionality to PyCharm Professional Edition.

Tip: launch IntelliJ from your Pipenv shell. This will give IntelliJ access to your virtualenv and let it install packages e.g. pylint, autopep8 and rope without needing sudo.

To launch IntelliJ from your Pipenv shell run the following commands:

cd your-python-project
pipenv shell
idea .

For Go developers


This development environment comes with Go language SDK 1.12.9 installed.

Go environment variables

GOROOT is set to the location where Go is installed.

GOPATH is set to $HOME/workspace-go.

$GOROOT\bin and $GOPATH\bin are added to your PATH.

Go plugins for IDEs

For Ansible developers

Molecule Wrapper Zsh support

Website: https://github.com/gantsign/molecule-wrapper

Molecule is an excellent tool to assist you in developing and testing Ansible Roles and Playbooks.

Molecule integrates with Docker to provide an isolated environment to try your provisioning and uses Testinfa to test the results.

Molecule can be tricky to install and that’s where Molecule Wrapper comes in. Molecule Wrapper is a shell script that installs Molecule (and its dependencies) before invoking Molecule.

The Zsh support for Molecule Wrapper adds an alias so you can run ./moleculew with the molecule command and enables tab-completion support.