Ariel Costas

Some good changes I've made recently

By Ariel Costas - July 31, 2021

I’ve recently made some good decissions in my life as an computer user. From changing my distribution, text editor and email client to finding more efficient ways to do my computing (and more ethical too!).

Operating System

To give some context, I started running GNU/Linux along with Losedows around September 2020, with Mint GNU/Linux. After a few months, I decided to move to a lighter distro called EndeavourOS, based on Arch but with a graphical installer and tools (I was too afraid of installing using a TTY).

In July 2021, EndeavourOS had too many packages for my liking, and I was using a tiling WM, so I didn’t need a DM anymore. I didn’t want to have to get rid of the packages without breaking dependencies, so I decided to distrohop once again, this time to Artix GNU/Linux. I’m happy on Artix right now. I’m using the Runit version, with PipeWire, xinit (instead of LightDM or any others) and Qtile as my Window Manager.

If you really want to learn GNU/Linux, you should learn how to make a system from the ground up (not LFS, compiling everything is just an innecessary pain in the a**). Losing fear to the TTY, learning to configure GRUB, partitioning yourself the disk and mounting everything is just better than running a graphical installer.

Although, if you just want a distribution to work on something else, don’t want much tweaking and don’t want to be updating every day, you should consider a stable distribution like Debian (or Devuan), Trisquel, Solus or Pop!_OS.

Text editor

I proposed myself to learn vim last year, mainly because it’s an editor available on almost any GNU/Linux machine by default, it’s easily extensible and is used on the terminal. It also has bindings usable from other editors (like VS Codium, which I was running at the time).

However, I found it to be not that great without setting up a ton of plugins and crap, so I just started looking for something else that was also good and was Free Software (I don’t want to depend on a proprietor for a text editor). I tried Geany, Nano, Atom and even Brackets (by Adobe).

After some time I just gave up on searching, until one day talking to Saint iGNUcius himself, I decided to try emacs. I watched some videos on the topic and I fell in love. Org-mode is great, rmail is cool too for sending and receiving email, and editing Markdown, RST or even programming is great in emacs.

It’s really extensible thanks to the Elisp language, the package repositories (GNU ELPA and MELPA, mainly) and the huge community it has behind. So, if you want a stable text editor that’s extensible and can be used for anything (even writing, better than MS Office and other WYSIWYG editors), then emacs should be considered.

Getting away from social media

On July 30, I deactivated my twitter account after many years on that social network. The process was not easy: I downloaded all my data, announced I would be deleting my account and went through the list of people I follow to subscribe to their tweets via RSS (although I don’t really check it).

The reasons behind this are multiple:

I found it hard at first, because I uninstalled the app on my phone and deleted the link to my browser. I also disabled JavaScript by default on all websites, so Twitter didn’t work (which helped me contain myself from visiting it).

Now I use Mastodon as a micro-blogging system, and when I need to read something from Twitter for some reason, I replace twitter.com with nitter.net and check it there, without running any JavaScript at all!

Others

This article is getting too long, and I’d better finish it, so here is a list of some other replacements I’ve done:

Happy hacking!

#life #freedom #software