Re: [dev] Suckless Desktop Environment

From: Sean Howard <>
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2011 15:13:35 -0500

Somebody claiming to be Christoph Lohmann wrote:
> Greetings comrades,
> reading [0] got me into thinking, if we need some plain new
> terminology to make suckless more usable for the press. Suck-
> less by now is just a repository of tools or a philosophy.
> This does not sell. Instead a whole environment could be pro-
> moted, which is usable across platforms.

What environment? What platforms?

> This »platform« will take many ideas just from Unix, but
> I think that Unix is underrepresented in Linux environments
> these days. It has to be relearned.
> The idea would be to first have an identity, the »Suckless
> Desktop«, which needs a logo, some texts and then links to
> the various parts of suckless. This would be the entrypoint
> for new users, where they can decide, what to adopt to or
> just take everything.

Logo is a marketing thing. Are we about marketing?

> Of course we have huge disparities and holy fights, like how
> to edit text or if it is more worthwhile to use a keyboard
> or the mouse for watching porn. This could be documented and
> shortened to a small »mission statement«.
> This will lower the user selection we are used to, but it
> gives us an identity, that can be referred to and used for
> spreading propaganda / the idea.
> And ideas (productive work) on this?

Well - I am not a Computer Scientist, some people will tell you I am a computer scientist and lying, but I am not. I am foremost an Arts Major, and on some level a marketer.

Firstly, what is it that you're selling? Even if you're not selling it in the traditional sense. I am writing this email in nvi (not vim) which was called by mutt as a nice way of showing off the contents of the imap dump gmail, when I am done editing it, the contents will be given back to mutt, which will hand it off to my ~/sent file, and msmtp. There's a lot of tools there. And there's several decisions. I use nvi, and I don't really like vim (personal choice, and my dad teaching me via raw vi from he was a hacker back in the day more than anything), I chose mutt, it's a mailer, it was a choice because several friends use it, and it was simply weight of the crowd, I could have been persuaded to use pine, elm, or anything else, but mutt was there. I choice msmtp, again, it was a reccomendation, and at least it isn't sendmail. There are also days when I fire up xxxterm (again, not surf) to look at my email inside a shiney gui email program called gmail. I don't like to do it - but sometimes I want to see images inline, and w3m isn't good at recieving text streams and turning them into email. There are other edge cases where the gui is faster.

But what about surf vs xxxterm. They're very similar, but have different design choices. I, personally, decided the featureset in xxxterm was slightly closer to what I wanted, but even then, what I really want it vi crossbred with w3m-image. Perhaps I will hack it together sometime. Perhaps not.

Suckless, as an organization currently has a lot of tools, I personally use very few of them.
dwm - I use this every day, and I twitch when I need to use a computer without it. I also twitch when I need to use a computer without *my* config.h.
wmii - We've killed this one
st - I am an xterm user. I've never tried to compile st. I may use it if I feel a need for a change, part of the problem is my ~/bin folder is full of scripts I use and love, and I'd have to do a s/xterm/st/g for all of them.
wmi - nope
surf - it is quite nice. Not quite what I want, and therefore don't use it. I use one of the major players in the "some glue over webkit and X" arguement, but only after... three months... of experimentation did I arrive there.
9base - don't feel the need, OpenBSD provides
dmenu - one of the coolest tools, honestly, it's so cool, I think this is my second-favourite suckless tool.
stali - I use OpenBSD - so, no.

So - these are a lot of tools. What do we say is our DE if we have one? How do you distinct ourselves? Why can't we simply say "this is a set of tools you want". Perhaps we should market ourselves as a ToolKit and not a DE?

> Sincerely,
> Christoph Lohmann
> [0]

Note - this is, weirdly enough, me agreeing with Christoph, not flaming. Nor is my choices in tools an attack on those tools. I really do like many of these. In fact, doing "research" for this post has made me decide to download and compile st, and see if it works, and if I enjoy it. But it's a question of direction and goals. Perhaps a long overdue one. Although there is a goal of eliteism in this - do we not want to market to those able to grasp our goals, and think they are good? The maintainer/editor of TheDailyWTF for example claims he is purely a Windows hacker, wrote a filesystem for a joke, but never even entered Linux, much less suckless. Is that not the kind of audience we want to engage? People who see the problem, but not the solution?

I see Suckless as attempting to maintain the idea of Computer Programming as craft, a work of a pure mind, and not as simply hacking out letters and symbols until it compiles. Is that idea not a good one?

--Sean Howard
Received on Mon Nov 07 2011 - 21:13:35 CET

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