Not to get too meta, but aberinkulas has some neat feedback on my review of his book.
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.
I’m a huge fan of the Minimalist GNU/Linux blog. There’s interesting hands-on, technical stuff, but the blog also explores more conceptual Linux issues.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
I am a student from the United States who blogs about things he likes on the internet only for the joy of doing so. I have part time jobs doing mundane things for mundane amounts of money.
I have a blog on Gamespot and Soup, neither of which have to do with minimalism but I’ve always wanted to be interesting enough to have what seems to be multiple personalities. Vaguely Batman-esque.
- What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
Mostly Debian, sometimes Ubuntu. Right now it’s Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, 32-bit. I do enjoy the Red Hat distros though.
- What software do you depend upon with this distribution?
I use either Fluxbox or a stripped down GNOME as a desktop, depending on my mood and distro.
Programs include: The latest Firefox for web browsing, rxvt-unicode or GNOME Terminal for terminal emulation, RSS feeds run by Newsbeuter, MPlayer for music, and a collection of other random oddities depending on what I’m doing, including but not limited to abcde (cd rips), GIMP (images I make for my soup), LibreOffice (for school), VLC (video), and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (classroom boredom).
- What kind of hardware do you run it on?
My laptop is a school-loaned Toshiba Tecra R10, soon to become a Macbook Pro against my will. I hope it runs Debian nicely.
I’m also using a G3 Apple iBook a friend gave to me. It’s running Debian 6 PPC with Fluxbox, and apart from no sound and no wi-fi, it works fairly decently. It’s a good backup machine.
I also use a Kindle for mostly public domain books and an old iPod nano for MP3 listening.
- What is your ideal Linux setup?
Basically all of my software that I listed for use on a regular basis, all under Fluxbox with pretty fonts and a plain but nice theme and color scheme. Even more ideally, I would be able to make a quick script to get all the apps and then have the preferences folders that I just drop into my home folder and bang, I have a desktop in twenty minutes.
Ideally we’d get Wii emulation through Dolphin, but I’m not that idealistic.
- Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
I can’t remember where the wallpaper came from on the Toshiba. Might have been an old Fedora wallpaper.
Interview conducted June 19, 2011