One more day of killx

by debianjoe


In my initial post, I gave respect to killx.  Since I spent about 6 hours just “playing” on it today, I thought I’d share part of my love for the little guy, and why I actually like it.

When I was about 5 years old, my father bought a TRS-80 Color Computer.  It was a horrible egg-shell colored box that was totally enclosed under the keyboard.  It had an external tape-deck that you could save your programs to.  It was programmable in BASIC.  He bought me a book about how to program games in BASIC, which was actually targeted towards the Commodore-64, but with some really minor tweaking, I managed to get some of them to run.

I spent a long time learning as much as I could about the system, which was not very much and it took years.  Every little victory was a celebration.  I would write a little program to print my name over and over, but alternate through the colors 1-8.  I would write a program that drew 2 rectangles, and a line that would draw itself, erase itself, and then redraw itself 5 degrees beyond where it was previously.  This was my rudimentary “helicopter” animation.  None of this was really very impressive by today’s standards, but every little thing was very exciting.

A few months back, I was looking at sending GObject Gsignals in a program, and it caused me to think “I really miss that TRS-80, back when computers made simple sense.”

That’s what killx does for me.  It takes all of the abstract layers over a Linux system, and simply tosses them away.  Since everything that I have added to it is built from source, I can tell you the dependencies for everything that I have installed.  There may be some “ease of use” for much more advanced programs and interfaces, but when things break, they get drastically more complicated.  There is a simple ease that comes from having a better understanding of how everything is set up to work.  It might actually be Zen-like in a way.  When you silence all of those widgets and graphical layers, the simple presence of the system has a chance to shine through.  You find yourself being excited about the little things again.  The little victories are that much bigger.

Now, I’m not going to go so far as to call it “user-friendly.”  It lacks much of the automation you’ll find in other distributions, and it requires some reasonable understanding of how the system should work by the user.  Much like the TRS-80, you should not expect to just start typing things and it run.  It didn’t work like that in 83′ and it shouldn’t work like that now.

Still, I really enjoy it, and if you have a humble heart and an open mind, you may love it too.