Re: [dwm] musca wm

From: Kurt H Maier <>
Date: Fri, 15 May 2009 15:50:58 -0500

On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 1:29 PM, Mate Nagy <> wrote:

>  i don't know what's up with this newfangled popular hate for GNU
> software. The GNU userland is a thousand times more comfortable and
> usable than old unix, not least because some utils even have >features<
> (imagine that), while the old unix tools were simplistic hackjobs.

Does /bin/ls really need to be 96kb? Really? I think the answer is
no. Features are fine, but the GNU method seems to be "include
everything," and that's stupid. I don't need 96kb worth of ls. I
just want to know what files are in a directory. The other half of the
problem is that you've got GNU coreutils on one end, which are
freaking huge, and then you've got busybox on the other end, which is
one binary and a ton of aliases. A good start to a lightweight
coreutils package would be breaking the busybox utils apart into
descrete programs, in my opinion.

>  Minimalism is a good thing to consider while developing software, but
> obsessing about it is no better than with anything else. I'm as annoyed
> with huge monstrous software like OpenOffice or Gnome or even Firefox as
> anyone, but wanting to take away the features of the CLI userland that
> make it comfortable is mad. Would you use dash instead of zsh as an
> everyday shell?

I use ash more frequently -- lots of time spent in busybox. It's like
anything else: once you learn how to get along without animated
prompts and regular expressions built into the shell, you realize it's
not that bad. Personally, I prefer to call sed over using (for
instance) bash's regex support. Some of us would *rather* use awk.

>  At a risk of being boring, I'll say that the same argument can be made
> about text editors: VIM is quite bloated and big, but it's better than
> any small text editor; because text editing is one of those typical
> tasks that cannot be comfortable without a million features that are in
> no way related to each other.

Cannot be made comfortable _for_you_. You are not everyone. I'm
perfectly comfortable in vi. If I want syntax highlighting, I can
always run vim, but there's no reason to load up all that shit if I
just want to write a small script.

>Even if someone writes a really small,
> elegant, suckless editor core, it will be unusable until:
>  - it gets encoding handling right (internal, file, terminal)

Not really incompatible with lightweight design.

>  - word wrapping (disabled, enabled, soft, hard...)

busybox's vi already does this.

>  - syntax highlighting and autoindent, for C, Python, Lisp...

There is _no_reason_ that has to be compiled into the core and enabled
for every single file. Any well-designed piece of software can be
made extensible, and stuff like syntax highlighting is perfect plugin

>  - all possible tab behaviors (soft, hard, half,...)

which character set are you using that has a half-tab character?
ctrl+lower-case i?

>  - autocompletion, ctags integration

see above about plugin material. If you require autocompletion you're
not cut out (to be charitable) for a minimal environment anyway and
(to be less charitable) might want to better familiarize yourself with
the programming language. ctags are useful for programming but that's
no reason to integrate them into a general-purpose text editor. many
of us edit text for purposes other than python.

> These are just the absolutely necessary basics, and if you implement

syntax highlighting, autocompletion, and ctags are _not_ "necessary
basics" in a text editor.

> these, you already have a multi-ten-thousand line application.

...and that's the problem we're complaining about. We're sick of
multi-ten-thousand line applications full of things we don't often
need. vi is supposed to be a "Visual Interface" to ex, which by your
definition of "absolutely necessary basics" isn't even a text editor.
vim is often called a "programmer's editor" because it does all these
things you want, but vi is just meant to edit text, not write your
code for you and give you a light show while it does it.

>  I say dwm (for example) is good because it's good, not because it's
> suckless. The sucklessness is certainly part of its goodness, but not
> all. If it was uncomfortable, would anyone use it? and it's still only
> marginably usable with a multi-monitor configuration - proper handling of
> this would require adding of this "bloat" everyone hates so much.

yep, and that's why many of us hope that we can leave dwm alone and
have an mdwm (multihead dwm) branch or something similar. unix used
to be about having the right tool for the job, not having a
four-megabyte (dynamically linked!) text editor for every purpose.
some of us miss that commitment to purpose.

# Kurt H Maier
Received on Fri May 15 2009 - 20:50:58 UTC

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