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Justin Garrison

Engineer @ Disney Animation, Author

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m an engineer at Disney Animation. I help with internal services and infrastructure that support making our feature animated films. I’m a published author of the O’Reilly book Cloud Native Infrastructure. I’m also active in open source communities and a Cloud Native Computing Foundation ambassador. For fun I tend to do software development, embedded systems tinkering, infosec stuff, and 3D printing.

What hardware do you use?

At home I use a HP Z800 Workstation with dual Xeon processors (24 cores) and 48 GB of RAM attached to a Dell 30” monitor. It was all second hand equipment when I bought them so they were really cheap and have lasted me for years. I use the workstation for lots of development, but tend to use cloud resources, my assortment of Raspberry Pis, or a Kubernetes cluster I have at home for IoT stuff and testing.


At work I have a workstation and a Pixelbook. I have dual 24” monitors (stacked vertically) at work because I find I’m more productive switching tasks when I have multiple monitors and work spaces. Stacking the monitors vertically has really helped with neck and back pain. More pictures of desks/computers I’ve had at multiple jobs can be found in a shared album I keep here.

I have a standing desk at work (not sure what brand) and I generally stand most of the day. At home I have a small IKEA desk (non-standing) for personal projects and working from home.

And what software?

All of my systems run different distros of Linux because that’s where I’m most comfortable. I’ve never been a fan of macOS or Windows even though I’ve used them off and on throughout my career. I generally am in a browser, chat, and terminal no matter if I’m at work or home. Chrome and gnome-terminal are consistently open but the chat system changes between Slack, IRC, Twitter, etc. depending on what I’m working on.

Most of my development and writing takes place in Vim or in a web editor (blog posts). I use SSH and mosh frequently, but lately have been doing a lot of web-based terminals in cloud environments such as Google Cloud Shell and Azure Cloud Shell.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

I have two Ergodox EZs (work and home), both of which are black with blank keycaps and brown switches. I’ve used Dvorak as a keyboard layout since 2002 so having letters on the keys didn’t make sense. Having a keyboard that physically remaps to Dvorak has been great though. Every OS support for alternate keyboards has something lacking and don’t even think about it for embedded systems. The layout I’m currently using is a modified programming Dvorak layout.

I have a custom 3D printed tent stand for both of my keyboards. I needed a stand with an angle closer to 45 degrees because of an old wrist injury. The stand isn’t perfect but it has lasted me for a couple years using it full time. The stand at home is all black while the one at work is much more colorful. It was roughly modeled after the Kinesis Freestyle2 which I had before the Ergodox EZ.

What would be your dream setup?

I would love to get to a point where I don’t have to type at a computer. It often feels like it slows down my brain (I only type about 50 WPM) and I’m sure I won’t be able to do it forever because of historical wrist problems. I also really look forward to VR based computer interfaces where I’m not limited to a monitor to manage windows. What that means for an actual setup is unclear to me. The more often I do work on remote virtual systems the more it makes sense that one day I may not need a desk or computer at all. A headset, microphone, and some gloves to interact with computer environments in a graphical and non-text way sounds awesome to me.

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