The things you own
…don’t let them own you.
After a short holiday vacation, I have been trying to get back to my normal routine. During this time, some packages from a major distribution that I use had a few changes that I personally didn’t care for. This isn’t really a big deal, and it’s the cost of using package management in some cases. It was easy enough to grab a tar of the original package, reconfigure it, and rebuild the package how I wanted it.
That being said, I often consider things such as “What if the developer of (foo_program that I love) just got tired of dealing with the hassle and stopped development totally?” Normally, I have multiples fall-back options ready to use should such a thing actually happen. I am not a huge fan of having a great deal of programs just sitting around, but some redundancy is not a bad idea. Most of the time I don’t actually need them, but assuming that the world came to an abrupt end and emacs ceased to exist I would still like to be able to edit text without using ed. I could in theory use cat, sed, and awk for everything, but that would be horrible.
This also applies to hardware. I personally believe in learning the basics of the system you use to a high degree of efficiency so that you’re able to deal with changing software environments and don’t have to rely on the greatest new and improved hardware to simply maintain your normal workflow. You really never know when you may need to be able to work on a P2 with a 512MB HDD, so you might as well have practices that could translate over to such a system. Surprisingly, the newest KDE Environment still has a terminal emulator, so I wouldn’t have to go to great lengths to use my normal methods to get around in it. The opposite story isn’t always true. I’m not knocking KDE, or those who use it, but rather those who rely on clickable interfaces. Some people simply prefer all of the extra animated widgets while being perfectly capable of dealing with a tty, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
My great concern is for those of us (and there are comics that support this) who could use some more time learning to still perform the same functions without our favorite software. Please don’t let the things that you use be a crutch.
Also, in a subnote, I’d like to recommend a friend of mine’s blog http://beta.andrewrcraig.us/index.php?page=about. Drew is one of the most stylish guys I know when it comes to minimal X interfaces…and is the author of probably the most bloated pure bash PS1 variable I’ve ever seen. (Battery life in colorized ansi escape sequences for laptops….just “wow”.) In the future, he’ll probably have some good stuff for those of you who like your desktop to look like a piece of art.