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The Antidesktop (2002) (archive.org)
196 points by yankcrime 217 days ago | hide | past | web | 121 comments | favorite

This is parenthetical to the discussion, but reading this article made me deeply nostalgic for 15 years ago, when we still had Freshmeat and Slashdot was decent and Mozilla was fresh and the web was largely full of information, not javascript.

Back on topic, I wrote this back in 2006: "What's old is new again, the quest for distraction-free writing" (http://therandymon.com/index.php?/archives/181-Whats-Old-is-...). The topic remains relevant, and maybe more relevant than ever. It's super hard to arrange time and materials and commitments so that you can concentrate deeply on the task before you. We are perhaps not making much progress.

Back then there was Freshmeat, now there is Github (et al). In that respect I think things actually improved, especially given the ease with which git allows others to fork repositories, safeguarding against site disappearance. Given the distributed nature of git even the eventual disappearance - or total sellout - of Github (et al) will not diminish this as those who want can host their own repositories in a few minutes using the likes of Gogs/Gitea or Gitlab.

Slashdot was fun while it lasted, there have been several attempts at a restart of similar communities (Soylent News etc.) but as far as I know none have managed to create the same 'feel of community'. Maybe that is because there is no real community?

Anyway, with more and more people getting access to true broadband the possibilities of decentralised hosting only increase so I still have some hopes for the future when it comes to building something interesting outside of the walled-and-fenced big-data farms so popular nowadays.

Freshmeat turned into Freecode and it's still there, but locked in perpetual read-only nostalgia mode from 2013. It is quite literally frozen in time.

I feel you, I grew up on this stuff. I might have read this as a kid in 2002. I ran ratpoison back in the day (on Slackware, another blast from the past), I still routinely quote the "inspiration" [1], "SCWM, Pot and the GPL":

>all the real elite programmers are wobblies.

Hopefully the ugly self-hosted sites hosting bespoke evilwm patches, and troll posts about SCWM will be preserved for posterity. I'd hate to think young programmers are missing out on our rich heritage.

[1] http://www.nongnu.org/ratpoison/inspiration.html

> and the web was largely full of information, not javascript.

Well, Flash was there to ruin the party.

I went down a very similar track last year with my own exploration in "How to Use Classic Amiga for Word Processing Today". I took a nostalgic trip inspired by George R. Martin, who still uses WordStar to write Game of Thrones. I did it for much of the same reasons you wrote your post - a desire for a distraction-free environment without a gazillion features to get a relatively basic task done. Thanks for sharing your post.

I remember reading your article several years ago (2010ish maybe?) and thinking it was bloody fantastic.

My setup is remarkably similar: Xmonad and tmux.

I only reluctantly leave the command line and feel like I only have X so I can have a reasonable browser.

And I kind of loathe all the popular browsers because I feel crippled without my cli tools and ability to script up solutions to my problems. Uzbl is the only browser that feels like I'm still in the cli but just happen to also have a window that renders the web.

Same here. On Linux, I've got an Awesome WM setup that starts a background-level termite window that I use as a launcher, running ZSH in a Tmux session. I've used Guake and Yakuake for a while, now I've got a hotkey (F12) that just switches the "on top" flag for said launcher.

I combined that with Gnome-Shell style infinite workspaces (switched by HJKL-based hotkeys), an EasyMotion-like hotkey to focus a desired window and Qutebrowser as my default web browser. I really wish I'd tried that combination years ago...

Not sure why you are getting downvoted, but I think the Xmonad (or other tiling window manager) and Tmux (or screen) together are a pretty popular combination. I also settled on the Xmonad/Tmux combo after more than 20 years of mucking with window managers.

I used to be a heavy tmux user on OSX but stopped since I started using xmonad. I was mostly using it to organise terminal windows and that was now xmonad's job. (I run everything locally on my laptop. I prefer not having to worry about maintaining multiple machines)

May I ask what you find yourself using tmux for within xmonad? I'm curious what I may be missing out on.

> I was mostly using it to organise terminal windows and that was now xmonad's job.

A thing I only realized after switching to a tiling/dynamic window manager (i3), as a tmux user, is that tmux complects two things:

  * persistent pty sessions
  * pty multiplexing 
So even after switching to i3, tmux was still useful to me for the persistent sessions, to keep certain long-running programs running. I just stopped using the multiplexing. But then I learned about abduco [1] which, like dtach, only deals with terminal session management. I haven't looked back since.

[1]: http://www.brain-dump.org/projects/abduco/

The honest answer is that I keep tmux around because I'm used to it, though I do make good use of its persistent sessions and remote login interaction.

Oh also, it's the one thing that gives me terminal emulator (st) buffer history.

I use i3 with tmux. Tmux for me handles grouping of things I'm working on using sessions, every project or thing thing that I'm tinkering with gets a named session. I like that I can detach and leave a project in a state that I can easily come back to.

I also prefer to have one terminal window and organize it with tmux. Much like I only open one browser and organize it with tabs. Leaving my actual workspaces uncluttered.

I use tmux so that when I work remotely on my laptop I can connect to the same tmux session. Also, I like the vim and tmux plugins for seamless window navigation.

How do you use xmonad on OSX? From what I've seen, most people use native clients that re-create the functionality of xmonad.

Oh, I don't. I switched back to Linux.

story of my life

I use a similar setup. Tmux is essentially my WM, as all my work is done on jump boxes.

FWIW, vimperator is awesome in FF, though I hear it's going away soon with recent FF updates.

People have commented to me several times about the various FF extensions that give vim like control. I've tried them all.

My main complaint is that I just want a thin client over some rendering engine that I can easily script with bash or whatever. FF forces me to learn a whole new ecosystem and do things the FF way.

Don't get me wrong, if you love your browser then more power to you, but I feel like Uzbl has way too little exposure. Seems to me like most unix people would love it.

Sorry being so late to recommend it but I think you'll like Qutebrowser.

That's rights, Firefox is moving to Web Extension (iirc it's to ensure cross-compatibility with Chrome Extensions). Sadly it's losing most of the extensions which alter the behaviour of the browser in the process.

This is the reason I decided to give Qutebrowser a try. I really like it so far. Now I just need enough time to come up with some simple Keepass integration... (or just hope someone else does :-) )

I use keepassx, and it works well with FF without any integration tools. Would that not work for you?

Hm, I'll have to try that. I was using Keefox so far. Thanks for the hint!

Because of that I moved from Vimperator to VimFx[1] which is a great plugin.

Additionally, I use It's All Text[2] to write comments like these using Vim.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/vimfx/

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/its-all-text/

What's the point of context switching to Vim for an internet comment? I get that it's all text, but I doubt there's any productivity boost over me writing this with my thumbs on my iPhone.

I personally like it as I tend to use vim controls even on input forms. Occasionally I end comments incorrectly:wq

I understand vimperator/pentadactyl and other "legacy" plugins will remain usable with FF ESR (long term support) version 52.x, which is supported until mid-2018. Hopefully we will see a rewrite by then.

Pale Moon will support XUL addons past Mozilla's EOL on Firefox. I've been using it for several years now as a replacement to Firefox.

The are a few VNC X servers.

That's quite similar. I use i3wm, and usually keep most applications maximized. I have a bunch of keybindings to start Chrome, start new terminals etc., including some that start ssh sessions to specific servers and attached to a suitable screen session (my home server has several screen sessions with different configs and different coloured status lines running for different projects).

Every now and again I split the screen, but rarely in more than two.

With screen sessions running on my home server for most of my projects, I can also detach and close them and/or reboot my laptop and not lose state, so e.g. at the moment I just have one Chrome window and one screen session open (on separate virtual desktops).

I have a shortcut to bring up Nautilus to manage files, but I use it so rarely I often forget the shortcut (I've got a keybinding to bring up a help file).

I started using i3 back around 2012 I think. I had tried a couple of other tiling window managers (awesome, xmonad, etc).

I occasionally try new ones every couple of months if I start using a new machine or laptop, but I keep coming back to i3. It feels like it's the easiest to use/deal with and I like the tree/stack way it handles windows.

Having used a tiling window manager for years, I don't ever want to go back to overlapping windows. Even when I have to use my Windows machine, I tend to keep everything full screen in each workspace.

Yeah, I used Ion for a year or so around 2000, but then went back to a more normal setup because I felt there were too many limitations (e.g. things like Gimp was a nightmare), but what has happened since is that I use fewer and fewer native apps, so I'm now down to mostly browser windows and terminals and that has made it a lot easier to get a tiling setup that works great, and now I don't want to give it up.

When I started using i3wm it was after a couple of years of realising I was running everything maximised anyway.

I started using EXWM, the Emacs X Window Manager, a few weeks ago, and it is by far my favorite window manager yet. It is the ultimate anti-desktop: all windows just become Emacs buffers. Since terminal windows are just Emacs buffers, managing terminal windows is exactly like managing X windows.

After almost 20 years of: Enlightenment, Blackbox, Window Maker, StumpWM (only tiling window manager I could stand to use until EXWM), too much twm, Openbox most recently, and a few others I forget, EXWM feels really refreshing.


There's an Emacs WM, but not a decent text editor yet?

Sure there is, it's called evil-mode :)

Linus has more polishing yet to do.

You mean RMS?

Possibly a reference to microEmacs, of which Linus maintains his own fork (though the last commit was in 2014) [1].

[1] https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/editors/uemacs/uemacs.git/

I used it for a while and really liked it, except for a couple snafus: modefulness, in terms of how keystrokes are interpreted, and my Java IDE did not love it.

Otherwise it is fantastic.

I tried this a while ago - its okay so long as you are doing specific, limited activities.

If you need to explore beyond the things that you have already figured out for to do it slows you down. Websites you need don't work in lynx, Android dev is slower to pick up console first, etc. People expect you to see the pictures and word docs on your mail, or contact you via WhatsApp.

You figure your way round these one by one, or give up after an hour and use the normal tool. And then onto tomorrows new distraction.

Eventually this is a time sink.

The whole point of his setup is that he has ratpoison ready in case he needs to use an X-11 application. His screenshots show Firefox running, among others.


He's running X with a minimalist tiling wm with only one window at a time, not trying to live through a VT100.

Of course, some Hackernews is now going to tell me about how this setup falls down hard when you need to do real work and how sensible people just use KDE or GNOME -- or Windows.

It's probably a little difficult running GIMP for photo editing. GIMP wants a half-dozen windows open at the same time to get much done.

Personally, I like having a few widgets on-screen all the time - a clock, a volume control - and I enjoy having two or three things open on-screen: a terminal and a browser, for instance, or two terminals ssh'ing to different machines. Having lots of display area helps. Pretty much every window manager can handle this, and it's just a matter of figuring out which one gets out of my way fastest.

What you said about GIMP was true in 2002, but GIMP's new Single Window Mode makes it an ideal fit for a tiling WM.

Many tiling WMs (e.g. i3, xmonad) support floating windows. Also, GIMP supports single-window mode these days.

Even dwm supports floating windows.

I use dwm in a similar fashion as the article's author. Most of my work happens in a terminal, but I always have a Chrome window open somewhere.

There's little to no point in doing what you describe (and perhaps you have missed the author's point); having X available but using it sparingly is probably the most efficient way to get by.

I'll chime in with a "met too!".

i3 + tmux (it's the only sane way to manage servers.)

I'm a sysadmin (not a developer like most of the HN crowd) so I usually have 10+ terminal windows open (depending on what project(s) I am working on.

I think it would make for an interesting poll to see what the demographics are like for the 'power-user' crowd that exists here.

I'm a software engineer, and I have many terminals open as well. I've been using iTerm2 (with splits) on OS X, but with the awful new Macbooks I'm finally looking at heading back to xterm and dwm on Linux -- I miss it dearly!

After ratpoison, there was a spiritual successor called stumpwm that is actively developed. [1]

Unfortunately, with most distros going to Wayland, it seems most window managers are going the way of the dodo. Very few have a sane migration path; Wayland's idea of what a compositor (the closest analog to window manager) does is pretty different. It's not like a libxcb/libx11 analog is a sane endeavor. I've found one thing that's a reimplementation of an existing, popular tiling window manager (i3): sway. [2]

I'll miss hacking the good hack.

[1]: https://github.com/stumpwm/stumpwm [2]: https://github.com/SirCmpwn/sway

One thing I've noticed (and irritates me) about Wayland is how now your WM is actually effectively now your DE and your Xserver.

So if you want to use Sway, you better get used to configuring your displays in a config file.

What about applications that need to set environment variables (e.g. gpg-agent, gnome-keyring) how do you launch them if your compositor doesn't launch and export them for you? (That said, I still can't work out where gnome-shell decides to launch gnome-keyring-daemon on login)

Ideally, I'd like a DE that provides display/audio/power/menu management, but with a (manual) tiling compositor that supports window stacking/tabbing (like i3/sway). And bonus points if it has a sloppy floating-desktop mode.

Shelltile kinda works, but shits the bed when applications set window size hints, and there's no window stacking/tabbing.

> One thing I've noticed (and irritates me) about Wayland is how now your WM is actually effectively now your DE and your Xserver.

A deliberate design decision intended to keep context switches off the hot path.

It's one of those "just trust me; this way really is better" things. You're sacrificing very little to get an improved graphics stack.

You're sacrificing composability, one of the biggest things that makes GNU/Linux so powerful in my mind. Right now, I'm running AwesomeWM embedded in a KDE session. As a result, I have a lean tiling window manager which I can configure to my liking, and a bunch of shit that I don't care about to that same level "just works" and is integrated in to the session like display management, network connectivity, even notifications daemon are a problem on other minimalist desktops that would have to be fully reimplemented for each Wayland WM.

stumpwm wayland version is paulownia but does not seem very active

A lot of dev folks should (in theory) be able to get away with just having a browser on one side of the screen and a CLI terminal with tmux on the other. Both windows with tabs, and fixed in position.

What kind of setup should be used for this? I know I can do this with split screens on the Mac. But is there a minimal Linux setup which provides this kind of experience?

I have almost exactly the setup you describe in front of me right now. In case I ever have amnesia and need to know these details in the future:

    * My monitors are two Dell U2412M 24 inch 16:10 1920x1200 monitors.
    * My distribution is Gentoo (https://gentoo.org/)
    * My window manager is dwm (https://dwm.suckess.org)
    * My terminal is st (https://st.suckless.org/)
    * My terminal multiplexer is tmux when I use one,
      (which is not very often at all).
    * My menu is dmenu (https://dmenu.suckless.org/)
    * My shell is bash
    * My editor is vim (https://github.com/milesrout/.vim)
    * My browser is Firefox, by far the most bloated programme I use.
Gentoo is the most lightweight and customisable distro I know of. It integrates well with programming languages - for example I can set PYTHON_TARGETS="python2_7 python3_4 python3_5 python3_6" in /etc/portage/make.conf and basically everything Python-related will be compiled and installed with support for those four versions of Python. Similar story with RUBY_TARGETS.

I work almost exclusively with this setup: Dual split screens, shell on left, browser on right.

The reason I comment is to share what took me too long to realize. If you want to resize the two full screen apps, the experience is much smoother if your browser is in focus first. Click browser, then drag to resize.

Something to do with the terminal trying to keep to character-width bounds, I think.

Are you using mac or Linux? If Linux, what window manager?

Mac, sorry. Though considering what I read in the article, sounds like RatPoison is what I'd use if I did use linux again.

Cinnamon is a nice desktop environment. I figure if you like Mac window management, why not try Cinnamon? You get keyboard shortcuts for pushing windows around.

Someday I'll be back on Linux. Inertia keeps me where I am right now.

I use:

  * Linux (linuxmint)
  * awesomewm
  * mate-terminal, with the menu turned off
  * tmux
Terminal on the left, browser on the right. mod4-[jk] to move forward/backward in the list of windows. mod4-m to toggle/max the current window (usually the browser).

The browser has tabs, and tmux has windows, which are effectively tabs. I don't open new terminal tabs in the terminal, I open new windows in tmux.

Usually I just have the terminal and browser open. If I have something else, like Okular for pdf viewing, you can click on its icon in the top bar and make it disappear from the mod4-[jk] sequence.

I've used other twms in a similar way: xmonad, i3, qtile. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager#List_of_...

I've also used more usual graphical shells in a sort of tiled way, like mate and cinnamon, but it's slightly more manual effort, and there's all that gui-cruft taking up space and attention.


That's exactly what I do with Gnome Shell. Depending on the day, I have the terminal on one side and the browser on the other, or simply a half-screen terminal over top of my browser and I flip between them. When I launch a graphical app that I am working on for testing, it appears behind, and so I just flip the terminal from one side of the screen to the other as needed, or bring it to the front if really necessary.

I would say that the _only_ thing I'm missing in Gnome is the ability to fit a window to the quarter screen, although I believe there are some plugins that can do this.

I use xmonad for this.

The simplest set-up would be a Chromebook.

I'm not familiar with Chrome. Can it be tiled in this way? I thought it was one tabbed window.

It doesn't have to be tabbed (you can specifically open apps in new floating windows) but I don't know of any easy way of doing tiling, but I basically threat my Chromebook at a throwaway dumb terminal for when my "real" laptop is too big and heavy so I can't say I've learned every in and out of it.

I'm similar, but with StumpWM instead of ratpoison (it was written by ratpoison's creator), tmux instead of screen, and st instead of gnome-terminal.

I will never, ever go back to a windowed desktop. This just works way too well for me. I feel like I can focus, and I never, ever have to drag a window.

It's pretty awesome.

So using screen or tmux means your non-gui apps keep running when you disconnect from your server, but what about X apps? I've been using xpra for the past few months for tmux-like functionality with GUI apps. It's /pretty/ good, but rough around the edges.

Thanks for mentioning xpra. I have always wanted something like that but hadn't ever thought about searching for "screen for X11".

It's great, but it's basically "VNC for individual windows" and suffers many of the same issues - window updates happens according to the redraw algorithm of XPRA, rather than in the sequence carried out by the application, and the application doesn't wait on the rendering. That said I've been able to play back full screen full HD video on my several years old laptop via XPRA with minimal jerking or tearing, so it's not a major problem.

x11vnc with shared :0.

I think we are a lot here using "minimal" tilling window managers.

At least in the representative sample of 5 linux users around me, 3 are using minimal setups (not so representative I know).

Personally I use dwm with some shell scripts: https://github.com/kakwa/dwm-desktop

It fits my need well and I adapt it to new version once in a while, not a lot of time spent maintaining my configuration.

By the way, I love suckless projects (http://suckless.org/), one of my favorites is dmenu, so simple yet so efficient.

I also like surf, but I'm a bit too lazy to switch from chromium.

> At least in the representative sample of 5 linux users around me, 3 are using minimal setups (not so representative I know).

Agreed, but I know of precious few WM users who went back to a DE. It feels like it would be 100 more effort to do DE->WM then it was to do WM->DE.

The Antidesktop aside, but I'm missing freshmeat website. It seems that most open source stuff is advertised now on www.openhub.net but I'm not sure if this still have the same spirit.

I actually did not realize freshmeat was gone until seeing this post. Apparently freshmeat became freecode.com sometime in 2011 with a terrible new layout. Then subdomains like palm.freecode.com disappeared entirely in 2013, after Dice Holdings acquired and ruined Slashdot, SourceForge, and Freecode. Those three websites were acquired by some holding company BIZX LLC last year, and the new owners seem to be serious about removing malware and adware from SourceForge and turning it around: https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/4n3e1s/the_state_...

IMO the best thing they can do for freshmeat is restore the old pages and layout. There was some really good, hard-to-find information on that site.

That depends on how much of that data is still on a server somewhere.

The themes section is what I mourn the most. It was a great repository of computer art. And frankly, the content there was a lot more original, bold and and innovative than what you see on *-look.org today.

"but I'm missing freshmeat website. It seems that most open source stuff is advertised now on www.openhub.net"

I don't understand this comment ...

First, my experience is that most open source software is now on github.

Second, I feel that github is infinitely better in every way than freshmeat was.

Github is nice, but it's not quite the same. Freshmeat was more about new releases and discovery. It was the daily list of new ideas (some terrible ..) and software updates in the open source world. Today Github alone doesn't do that. It's more like GitHub + Hackernews or Reddit or some other aggregation site to show you what's new and neat or updated.

There was a lot of dreaming during that time (late 90s/early 2000s) of what we could accomplish in the OSS communities. Slowly community projects became part of foundations or startup/corporate controlled. Gimp never took the place of Photoshop, and many of the lofty ideas about open source really started to fade:


Freshmeat was not about hosting, but announcement of releases, and discovery of projects that people had deemed "release-worthy", and providing structured information about it.

I love Github, but it doesn't serve the same purpose. (Neither does openhub).

What was great about Freshmeat was being able to go to the front page every morning and scan through the new releases and discover new cool projects or releases of important software.

If anything, while Freshmeat would be vastly harder to do right today, it'd also potentially be a far better project today given how much more open source software is out there, but it'd need to be run by someone willing to do a lot of work to either let people customise what appears on their front page or enforcing a strong editorial policy to pick the most interesting updates rather than just spew everything... That worked back when "everything" was little enough for people to skim through everything, but not today.

That said, like others, I too miss it in a mostly abstract way, in that I first realised it had stopped updating long after it happened - like e.g. Slashdot, I'd slowly checked it less and less and until it stopped being part of my daily routine. I'm glad they've kept it there as a historical artefact at least, and hope it stays as a reminder.

I've been using a tiling WM for a while now, and it's pretty great. Most of the programs I use are in the terminal (urxvt with a pretty color scheme and font, unlike the OP), switching workspaces for different programs is just nice to use, and everything is minimal. I'd encourage everyone to check out /r/unixporn at least once.

I use a fairly boring WM, too. spectrwm doesn't have a lot of config, it Just Werks, and lately I've been using a WM in wrote myself in Rust.

Some less popular alternatives not seen in this thread yet:

- twin, vwm (curses based window manager)

- dvtm (similar to tmux)

There is plenty of stuff you can do without X. Some of them:

- Web browsing (e.g: lynx, links, etc)

- music (e.g: mp3blaster)

- videos, surprisingly (e.g: mplayer + aalib)

aalib is amazing, but you can also use fbdev, which gives you regular video playback: https://youtu.be/WgFfKpGK2Pg?t=7m

Yes but this can be used in the context of terminals (e.g: inside a tmux pane)

There are currently 2 usable OSx tiling window managers :

- KWM https://github.com/koekeishiya/kwm - Amethyst https://ianyh.com/amethyst/

I stopped using Linux on the desktop before tiling WMs were a thing, and was kinda fascinated by what i read about them, as i've always seen the overlapping windows GUI idea as somewhat broken. (what's the use of a window if it's even partially hidden, appart from clutter ??)

Well those 2 projets really bring tiling to osx, not just as in "resize windows with a shortcut" like spectacles, etc, but as the real i3/xmonad deal : windows are mostly managed for you, using a BSP for kwm.

I use kwm, it's beta quality, it has a few issues and i spent a few evenings tinkering to wrap my head about the concepts but ... it works, and it rocks !

Suddenly I can have 10 usable windows on my dual screen setup, focus follow mouse, etc. It feels so much peaceful having everything on your screen that being searching for windows all the time...

Minimalist window managers are cool but unless you have a very specific workflow it tends to create more problems than it solves.

X11 apps are usually designed with a typical, windows-like environment in mind and tweaks may be required to accommodate for an unusual desktop environment, if at all possible.

Typical problems can be :

- The title bar isn't visible, and there is important information in it

- No system tray, which can mean no menu and no notifications

- Normally small windows displaying full screen (ex : GIMP)

- Key binding conflicts between the window manager and the app in use

Wow, I had a surprisingly similar setup almost exactly ten years after the author posted that - even down to the gnome-terminal. Recently though I've switched to i3 and xterm, because for some reason gnome-terminal has broken on my system.

For anyone who's reading this, I highly encourage you to try i3 (a tiling wm similar to that in the article.) It even gives you a guide on keystrokes on first setup, and it's by far the most efficient for me.

Reading this it makes sense as a highly productive system for a time when the screen size was small monitor.

I keep wanting an Apple/Windows/Linux manager that really embraces the flexibility and size of a giant 4k screen (I'm using a 55" 4k TV as a monitor that's cheap in both current and real dollars than the 21" monitor I had in 2002).

I've hacked together a system that works well for me on OS X with Divvy, but it still feels non optimal.

Tiling window managers on X11 are great on all sizes and number of monitors. They just allow to conveniently arrange windows on a grid, in a manual or dynamic fashion, with some handy functions to access and manage those windows.

You can try using one for terminals on xquartz for osx. There is nothing close for non-X windows. The hardest part is to pick one ;)

I'm drawn to this kind of setup, but I'm aware that there is an element of techno-machoism to it. It can seem more aspirational than useful.

If you want to avoid the techno-machoism (did you mean machoism or masochism? I thought you meant the latter, but realised it works either way though with different implications), find a tiling window manager that supports making windows floating, as that's really the one thing that is sometimes painful with some of them - if you e.g. start an application that opens tons of small windows (gimp used to be one of the great test cases for this - though now you can run gimp with few windows if you want).

But for me I picked a setup liked this because I was simulating it with a regular WM anyway by running almost everything maximised because that's how I liked it. I was happy to squint at tiny text when I was younger, and I used to care more about having a desktop that looked cool, and spent endless time on themes etc., but I got tired of it, and now I want functional. I still care that it looks good, but with less window-chrome there's less effort involved: I have a background image that's part visible behind my terminals; I have a theme I like for Chrome etc., and that's about it.

If you meant machoism: This kind of set up is far less flashy and in your face. If you mean masochism: For me at least this setup has removed friction and lowered the effort of managing windows, not increased it. I'm not using this setup to make this unnecessarily austere and minimal, but to remove stuff that got in my way.

I can understand the feeling though: It used to be painful to run these kind of setups. When the article was written there was definitively more applications that worked poorly with that generation of tiling window managers etc.

I meant macho - as in a hairy-chested man hunting for animals with a simple spear (shell, tmux). Versus getting a microwave meal from the supermarket and slobbing out on the sofa (GUI). Such things are on my mind after I posted a couple of things about what approach was best:



I'm starting to believe more in 'no pain, no gain'

See, the thing is I don't see the shell/tmux/screen/tiling window manager as the tough option. It's not depriving you of anything any more. There's no pain.

If I wanted pain, I'd use a desktop environment.

It's really not. Depending on your conditioning/muscle memory from other systems it can be a little hard at first but it really does get easy and intuitive if you do it everyday. And the benefits of extra screen real estate and less mousing are great.

Of course it's more suited to someone using the cli than say someone doing heavy photo editing so your mileage may vary depending on your typical workflow.

For me it's tmux and cwm but the result is very similar to the article.

Surprised that no one has pointed out this is nearly exactly the experience you get with a tablet + keyboard - and in fact the viewable screen/real estate probably lines up quite well with what a desktop gave you in 2002.

That having been said, I tried using an iPad+bluetooth keyboard for a little while as a "workstation" and the inability to switch or launch apps from the keyboard doomed it for me.

You can use search (which is what I use to launch apps even on the desktop) and switch apps from a keyboard on the iPad. Could you not do it at the time you tried? Even my iPhone can do most of what I need—if only it had mouse support for Remote Desktop sessions my 7plus, at a native resolution of 1080p and with an hdmi adapter, would make a decent workstation (supported by remote Linux boxes, of course). They crippled keyboard support on it so I can't switch apps like an iPad can, but even so Search is a semi-serviceable app switcher.

On Android you can alt-tab between apps using a BT keyboard (including to the Launcher, from which you can launch apps). But alt-tab is the poor man's version of virtual desktops.

I remember reading this back in the day and eventually winding up using a wm called ion3 instead of ratpoison. There wasn't much that set it apart from the other tiling wms and I forget why I liked it the best.

Apparently the dev had a bad experience with open source and refused to continue working on it or something like that. I don't think it's around anymore.

Iirc ion3 was one of few tiling WMs at the time, that handled multi window applications, such as GIMP in a usable way.

Full size split screen in MacOS is where I spend my time doing dev work. Visual Studio Code with the terminal extension and Chrome (I only wish I could do something like the author shows to get iTerm2 in there). I find this keeps me focused and productive without things getting in the way or unnecessary windows causing a distraction.

I ran an all-macho desktop with twm for a while. I rapidly went back to full-service KDE 3.


'Cos it got to be a nuisance, and once I added another 512MB to the box full-service KDE 3.0 (this was 2002) wasn't an eternity of thrashing :-)

What I ask of a desktop is not to annoy me while I'm doing stuff. Presently very happy with Xfce and desperately hoping they don't fall prey to the awful concept of "desktop innovation".

I remember being at my most productive on a similar setup - ratpoison on a SparcStation 5. No distractions, no notifications and paging the web browser back in took about a minute, so no quickly checking Slashdot.

Basically, he's using only full screen apps... hence the "window" manager is more of a "focus" manager. It's the perfect setup.

ah the desktop/wm wars. sometime ago (> 15 years) i got fvmw working just so, and haven't looked back. though i have tried almost everything under the sun, including (but not limited to) afterstep, window-maker, litestep, cde, kde, gnome etc. etc.

i just keep coming back to fvwm again and again. the hobbit within me would say "there and back again" ;)

Unfortunately, X is headed for the shitpile of history and fvwm has no Wayland equivalent.

this conversation in fvwm forum in 2k13 seems relevant: http://www.fvwmforums.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=3010

seems like even with wayland, X will not be ripped out, and window-managers can run alongsides (ref: https://wayland.freedesktop.org/faq.html#heading_toc_j_4)

This info is old. Right now the goal is to deprecate X and move everybody to Wayland, except for legacy Motif apps and the like which can't be migrated. The major modern toolkits -- GTK and Qt -- will remove X11 support some time in the future.

hmm, have you looked at this: https://wayland.freedesktop.org/xserver.html , where they talk about running _any_ Xclient on wayland ?

XWayland is only a stopgap/transition tool. Maintainers want to maintain as few code paths as possible; ideally one per platform. For toolkits that will be Wayland, not X11, once Wayland reaches critical mass.

X11 is deprecated.

I use dwm for window manager, st(simple terminal) as terminal. They are more light weight than gnome-terminal and ratpoison.

> there is an element of obscurity to the system that can protect from a friend who wants to play a practical joke when I walk away. I keep xlock on "^O x", but even if I step away from the keyboard without locking it, someone stepping in tends to be confused by a screen that shows no "close" buttons and a keyboard set to Dvorak.

Kinda reminds me of https://xkcd.com/1806/

Yeah. Mildly funny story: a friend of mine and I installed dwm on our Linux users on the computers at university. Nobody else had a clue how to access them. We would constantly edit each others' PATH and bashrc in various prankish ways, which culminated in him accidentally locking himself entirely out of his own profile in an attempt to stop me from accessing it. Every command he tried, everything he tried to do, just got the rather succinct message 'Fuck off'. He had fun explaining that one to the sysadmins.

One of the nice things about Linux is that you can do this. Download and compile dwm, put it in $HOME/bin, edit ~/.xinitrc to run it, and Bob's your uncle.

Oh and the university also had xauth open on every computer, which meant that you could ssh into any other machine in the room and simply run 'DISPLAY=:0 firefox lemonparty.com' whenever someone turned their head away from their computer for a second. I wonder if they've ever fixed that.

awesome + tmux, spacemacs, and ff with vimperator. I can go hours without touching the mouse.

s/awesome\(.*\)perator/xmonad\1fx/ for me.

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Why would anyone care to print this out on the top of the page, right after the first sentence, destroying the text formatting?

why not directfb?

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