David Heinemeier Hansson

June 6, 2024

Introducing Omakub

Linux can look and feel so good, but it often doesn't out of the box. It's almost like there's a rite of passage in certain parts of the community where becoming an expert in the intricacies of every tool and its theming is required to prove you're a proper nerd. I think that's a bit silly, so I created Omakub: An opinionated web developer setup for Ubuntu.

Omakub turns a fresh Ubuntu installation into a fully-configured, beautiful, and modern web development system by running a single command. No need to write bespoke configs for every essential tool just to get started or to be up on all the latest command-line tools. Omakub is an opinionated take on what Linux can be at its best.

Omakub includes a curated set of applications and tools that one might discover through hours of watching YouTube, reading blogs, or just stumbling around Linux internet. All so someone coming straight from a platform like Windows or the Mac can immediately start enjoying a ready-made system, without having to do any configuration and curation legwork at all.

This isn’t a project for someone already versed in the intricacies of nixOS or relishing a fresh install of Arch. It’s using vanilla Ubuntu because that’s one of the most widely adopted Linux distributions, and one that is even a pre-install option from many computer vendors. But while Ubuntu has a great package manager in apt, many of the tools that developers want either haven’t been packaged, need more recent versions than what has been frozen in the LTS, or need actions post-install necessary for the best operation. Omakub includes all those scripts needed.

But package management is only half the battle of getting a great development experience going on Linux. The other half lies in the dotfiles that control the configuration. Linux gets great power from how customizable it is, but that also presents a paradox of choice and a tall learning curve. Having good, curated defaults that integrate all the many tools in a coherent feel and look can help more developers acquire a taste for Linux, which they may then later inspire a fully bespoke setup (or not!).

Nothing in Omakub provides solutions to problems you couldn’t also solve a million other ways. The main benefit is in The Omakase Spirit. The idea that an entire setup experience can benefit from being tailored upfront by someone with strong opinions about what works and looks good together. This doesn’t make the choices necessarily better than other choices. Linux has inspired a million options for a million tastes. That’s great and worthy of celebration. But there’s a large constituency of developers who are more than willing to trade ultimate bespoke customization for a cohesive package of goods, at least until they understand what all the options are and have fully bought into making the switch to Linux.

Omakub is for all these future Linux users.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.