I hate the term, but it does apply. (minimalism)

by debianjoe


I dislike the popular use of the word “minimalism.”  It’s used for so very many things that it’s honestly just become a buzz in my ear, but as it’s probably the most significant way to describe why I tend to use the types of systems that I do, then I’ll concede.  For a while, I was more of a kmandla-styled “lessist,” which is actually the process of doing the most with the least amount of resources.

On the other hand, as was pointed out to me today, there is no distinct advantage in resource usage between running a terminal with a multiplexer and links in X over doing it in two different tty’s.  If you do the math, this is an entirely factual statement.  The CPU and RAM have to do the same amount of work for either setup.  I’m not really reducing the load on the system to be running a graphical framebuffer terminal over running a simple X terminal emulator.

Also, I don’t care.  That’s not why I do it.

I do not have a requirement on most of my hardware to be so conservative.  My choices are based on probably the same foundation that the above decorator used.  The internal dialog might sound a bit like, “Hmm, this room needs 2 chairs, an ottoman, and some lamps.”  It’s striking upon looking at it, but what it accomplishes is that it makes it really easy to keep the floor clean.  You don’t have to worry about if the paintings are straight.  You don’t have to worry about tripping over things as much.  These are all nice concepts, but the purpose for this design insofar as I understand it is actually really efficient for one thing.


If your goal was simply to get something read, this is a totally sensible layout.  It cuts out the distractions of television, music, and telephone calls…and really puts all of the emphasis on one subject.  Now, for entertaining large parties, it might not be the best possible answer.  That would be better served by a dining hall.  There is a sense of “direction” in the very layout of the appliances, and that design leads to a better understanding of the purpose.

This is really the core reason that I prefer to work like I do.  I do appreciate aesthetics, but not at the cost of direction.  When what you really need to be doing is studying structs and pointers to structs, having a large music-player that updates you about what song you’re listening to isn’t really helping at all.  On the other hand, splitting the screen 50/50 while running tests on one side and looking at your code on the other helps the mind to really put the task at hand to the forefront of your attention.

So, rather than be labeled a hypocrite about how this is not any more efficient than whatever option people might also be considering, I’d like to say that it really does rely on personal preference.  While sitting at my computer with 70MB in use of an 8GB total RAM, I’m not really concerned about shaving off some extra processes.  I like zsh, and it’s nowhere close to as efficient as Bourne shell on resources, but it does assist with the tasks that I intend to perform.  That is reason enough for me to make the concession to some extra overhead.

Also, I don’t feel that my methods are the “best practices” for everyone.  Far from it.  If you job or hobbies involve graphical design, then I’d seriously doubt that you’d be well served by how I do things.  If you like playing games beyond an ASCII rogue-like, then you’ll be hard pressed to find satisfaction here.  Still, I find that making your environment support your tasks leads to better focus.  Some people thrive in a very “busy” environment, but I am simply not one of those people.

Anorexia and obesity are two opposite ends of the spectrum, and they’re both unhealthy.  Finding a balance that works for you should really be the primary goal of any environment.  Despite the fact that I loathe the term, I would guess that I really am a ‘minimalist’ at heart.