rsi : introspection

by debianjoe

I started the day out with a release from the LinuxBBQ called ‘rsi’  http://linuxbbq.org/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=753

The release name made me laugh, as I often work in an emacs + tmux environment.  The keybinds can require a great deal of dexterity to actually master, and could potentially cause repetitive strain injuries.  The release notes caused me to laugh out loud.  I have never been promised a “gold-plated neckbeard” before.

Behind the humor, there’s actually a very good portable emacs24 environment, or the base of a customized Debian Sid/Experimental just waiting to be used.  I generally try out most of the LinuxBBQ spins.  I’m biased, but I think very highly of the core group that surrounds the “grill” as it is known casually.  Many of the releases aren’t really for me, but if ‘MachineBacon’ were to actually cater to only me, all anyone would be getting is net-install disks.  Today’s offering, though, was right in line with something that I’d actually use.  It fits on a 256MB USB stick, and has the potential to be installed as a complete OS?  “Yes, thank you.”  Obviously, if you were going to build it into a development environment, you’d want a compiler or interpreter, but those choices are left up to the user.  This is one of the few 10/10 releases as far as I’m concerned.

Unix-like systems such as Linux and BSD attract all sorts of different types of user.  Many are refugees from the “big 2” OS’s.  Others use them a an artistic platform.  Still, others (such as myself) are looking at them simply as a tool for a specific task.

I don’t feel the need to press my particular views on others, because I will be the first to say that all users are looking for their environment to mimic the purpose that they have.  I really admire some of the screenshots of the more artistic users.  They spend a lot of time matching colors, themes, wallpapers, and decorations to create what really is a special kind of artwork.  For me personally, this is the equivalent of painting a hammer.  If I were going to just put it on display, that would be reasonable, but I’m going to drive nails with it.  It may get broken, and it will certainly get beat up.

I’m absolutely certain that my views on the matter are spawned from how I perceive the “perfect system.”  Since this is totally subjective, it will obviously vary from user to user.  I would imagine that is why there are so many different options within the FOSS world.  I still think that many people start out looking to fill and need, and somewhere along the line are drawn into the “the tool is the goal” mentality.  I don’t particularly understand this mindset.  I would imagine that it stems from the transparent depth of the systems.  They’re open to learn from, while being highly complex.  There are already discussions along BBS and IRC for most any topic that you can imagine.  There are mounds of knowledge to gather and grasp and I would doubt that it’s possible for a single person to ever learn it all.

Still, the question that I would ask everyone to answer is this, “Does it serve you, or do you serve it?”  When the user is slave to the system, then something has gone wrong.  I’m not saying to avoid challenges.  Learning to fix problems or to perform complex tasks means that the system is serving to educate the user.  This is normal and healthy.  It becomes unhealthy when taken to extremes.  The “Minimalism” ideas can go the same direction.  The ultimate “Minimal” system is no system at all, but it’s not very functional and doesn’t serve the user at all.  It’s a slippery slope, and one that much easier to manage if you have a clear idea of what your particular goals are.

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