Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Bret Taylor
Image by Thomas Hawk.

Bret Taylor

CTO (Facebook), co-founder (FriendFeed)

Posted in developer, linux, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Bret Taylor. I'm currently Chief Technology Officer at Facebook. Before that, I was the co-founder and CEO of FriendFeed. Facebook acquired FriendFeed in August 2009. Before FriendFeed, I worked at Google where I created Google Maps and started Google's developer product group. Before that, I got a BS and MS in Computer Science from Stanford.

What hardware do you use?

At FriendFeed, I used at custom-built desktop (4GB memory, four cores) running Ubuntu Linux for everything. Since coming to Facebook, I have slowly transitioned to using my 13" MacBook Air (4GB memory, 256GB SSD) almost exclusively. I still boot into Linux via VMWare Fusion most days, but the convenience and size of the Air has outweighed any advantages to my keeping around a desktop over the past couple years. I realize I just don't need much computing power for browsing the web and writing code, and I love the form factor of the Air.

I use a 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Magic Mouse at work. I work directly on my laptop at home.

I also have an iPhone and an iPad. The latter I (ironically) use almost exclusively to read Kindle books, but I like the hardware, web browser, and backlighting better than anything Amazon has produced so far.

I use Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones to listen to music while I code at work.

I have given away all my home backup systems and my gaming desktop. For backup, I switched to Dropbox, and I play whatever is available on Steam for Mac and just play fewer games now as a consequence.

And what software?

90% of my computer use is Google Chrome and a terminal. I use the zsh shell, and I am an Emacs user. I write all my code in Emacs, and I despise IDEs.

I use Gmail for my personal email, and I use Apple Mail for work email. I also use Adobe Photoshop daily. I listen to Pandora while I code.

On my iPhone, I use (in rough order of frequency): Safari, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Mail, Calendar, Pandora, Twitter, Kindle, and Yelp.

I host all of the code I write on Github. I have a couple of private repositories for all of my personal projects, and I open source everything else. For personal web development, I have moved almost all of the sites I maintain to Amazon Web Services.

I use my Dropbox folder for everything so I can access my stuff anywhere, and I don't need to worry about backups anymore.

What would be your dream setup?

My 13" MacBook Air and a 27" Thunderbolt Display everywhere I have a desk. I like minimalism and simplicity, and I like not having to deal with a bunch of different machines.