ebook review: Minimalist GNU/Linux

aberinkulas, who you might remember from here, has converted his blog into an ebook, Minimalist GNU/Linux.

The book is a compilation of his blog posts, but it’s great having everything in one place. There are a lot of really wonderful ideas in the book, some of them explicitly Linux related, and others more related to the Linux/Unix philosophy.

There are a few ideas I found especially provocative. For instance, in chapter 2, aberinkulas talks about trying to wean himself off of buying cheap video games. I understand the desire to not have clutter, either in space or on a hard drive, but if space isn’t an issue and the games aren’t interfering in his ability to be productive, I would argue simple indulgences, like cheap video games, are healthy.

In chapter 3, he talks about the role of trust in software development, pointing out that users need to trust developers for software changes to be successful. It’s an interesting idea, since a lot of developers probably don’t think that they need users. For many, I would imagine the more common thought is that the users need the developers. But as aberinkulas illustrates, software really doesn’t exist without users (and their trust).

There’s also a discussion of defaults in chapter 3. aberinkulas comes down in favor of minimalist distros with no default applications. I actually find it more minimalist to have a lot of standard programs pre-installed. At this point, I really don’t use media players very often, so I appreciate that OpenSUSE chose Banshee as the default player for me. It saves me the trouble of researching players and choosing one to install. A blank distro with no default software is great only if you know every piece of software you want. But if you don’t know and don’t care, defaults can be very helpful and time-saving.

Finally, toward the end of the book, aberinkulas skewers some aspects of the minimalism movement, poking fun at some of the people who seem to be trying to buy their ways into a minimalist life. The minimalism sub-reddit had a thread discussing this a couple of weeks ago.

If you never got around to reading the Minimalist GNU/Linux blog, the ebook is a great opportunity to catch up. It presents a lot of interesting ideas to consider. I didn’t agree with everything I read, but I certainly appreciated the thoughtfulness and clarity of the ideas.

I hope aberinkulas is planning more ebook projects.