Uses This

1260 interviews since 2009

A picture of Cory Doctorow
Image by Jonathan Worth.

Cory Doctorow

Activist, writer, journalist

in activist, journalist, linux, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Cory Doctorow and I'm an activist, science fiction writer and journalist. I've been involved with the Electronic Frontier Foundation for 20 years and worked on many important policy fights related to human rights and technology, and I've published more than 20 books.

I have eight books in production for publication between now and late 2025 - four science fiction novels from Tor, a graphic novel from Firstsecond, two nonfiction books about tech policy, and a short story collection. I edit a daily blog at that you can get as threads on Twitter or Mastodon, over the web or RSS, on Tumblr or Medium, or as a newsletter.

What hardware do you use?

I use a Framework laptop. It's the greatest laptop I've ever used.

I have a home office that I used to only use about half of the time, pre-pandemic, when I traveled constantly. These days I'm in it nearly every day.

My office has a 40" LG monitor, a Kiyo webcam, a VEC podium mic, a bunch of USB hubs, and a generic Lightning hub to hold it together. I use Steelcase Leap chairs; my first one (bought from a guy shutting down his dotcom bust and selling everything on a San Francisco sidewalk in 2001) was $20 and lasted for nearly 20 years. I retired it and bought my second one just before lockdown. It cost a lot more.

I have a Pixel 5 Android phone and a Newdery battery case. I go through a succession of terrible Bluetooth headsets and burn with rage at the absence of a 3mm headphone jack.

And what software?

On the desktop, I've been an exclusive Ubuntu user since about 2005. Currently running the latest version, 21.10.

I use Firefox and Brave as my daily driver browsers, and Chrome for apps that require it (including Gdocs, because only Chrome has a work offline mode).

I compose most of my fiction and long-form nonfic, as well as blog posts in Gedit, a text editor, usually with emacs keybindings.

I use Rhythmbox for my MP3 collection. I have ~30,000 MP3s in a shuffle playlist whose rule is "Music rated 4 or 5 stars that hasn't played in at least 30 days."

I use LibreOffice for formatted text and bookkeeping and the odd slideshow.

I use Audacity to record and edit podcasts, and EasyTAG to manage the metadata.

I use Mattermost for comms with EFF and Signal for friends, family and creative collaborators.

I use the GIMP to create and edit images for my blog.

I use VeraCrypt for secure storage.

On the mobile side, I use Firefox, BeyondPod (podcasts); Newsblur (RSS), Flickr, and K-9 Mail.

What would be your dream setup?

There are some UI things about my Ubuntu apps that niggle at me. In my dream world, I'd be able to file a bug against them and have someone fix them right away.

I'd like my Framework laptop to have a Thinkpad-style pointer and three hardware buttons, and effectively infinite battery life.

I'd like a one-button macro to dim my office lights and bring up my three-point video lights so they're perfect for livecasts.

Uses This is supported by ZSA, makers of the Moonlander, ErgoDox EZ and Planck EZ keyboards. They also publish an awesome newsletter.