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I don’t like keeping a laptop near the CNC for long periods so I never bothered with host controller software like Repetier-Host. Instead I use one of the cheap RAMPS compatible LCD controllers called the XXL LCD and just put the gcode on an SD card. The LCD display firmware was designed for 3D printing so you would be all set if you decided to add a 3D printer hot end in the future.
For tool path generation it is worth looking at Fusion 360. It is free for students and hobbyists but feature rich and has a steep learning curve.