al3x's notes on happy computing, modified.

I have modified the following slightly from the original to suit my tastes. It's an open template and is well suited to modifications, so try your own version at your leisure. (I also consolidated somewhat.)


  • Use as little software as possible.
  • Use software that does one thing well.
  • Do not use software that must sync over the internet to function.
  • Do not use web applications that should be desktop applications, or vice versa.
  • Do not use software that isn’t made specifically for your operating system. (You’ll know it when you see it because it won’t look right or work correctly.)
  • Do not run beta software unless you know how to submit a bug report and are eager to do so.
  • Use a plain text editor that you know well. Do not use your text editor for tasks other than editing text or code.


  • Do not buy a desktop computer unless your daily computing needs include video/audio editing, 3D rendering, or some other hugely processor-intensive computing task. Buy a portable computer instead.
  • Do not use your phone/smartphone/PDA/UMPC for tasks that would be more comfortably and effectively accomplished on a full-fledged computer.
  • Use Linux or BSD.
  • The only peripheral you absolutely need is a hard disk or network drive to put backups on.
  • Use hosted services in lieu of hosting on your own hardware (or virtual hardware) for all but the most custom applications.

File Formats

  • Keep as much as possible in plain text. Not Word or Pages documents, plain text.
  • For tasks that plain text doesn’t fit, store documents in an open standard file format if possible.
  • Do not buy digital media crippled by rights restriction technologies unless your intention is to rent the content for a limited period of time.

Google Chrome for Linux

Check it out.

For a minimalist browsing experience, it's not exactly boss, but it works well and is pretty fast in certain areas. It's worth having as a second browser.

If you want something even more minimalist than Chrome, Epiphany, Midori, and Lynx are some options.

EDIT: Also, for those who are paranoid about Google's all-encompassing privacy violators, don't use Google's software. In fact, the internet doesn't know anything about you if you don't use it, which is more or less what Google's CEO said in a context-less interview that had Slashdot in a tizzie. If you don't want Google to know about you, then don't tell Google about yourself - I can't see how this is any more difficult than that.

What kind of machine?

A question popped into my head: What would this new-fangled "Minimalist Linux user" use for hardware?

Linux users use commodity hardware. And for the responsible computer user, whom cares for the environment and their world, then using the hardware you already own is the best option! Not that I'm saying that anyone should run hardware less than what they can handle. Just don't buy a new computer if you don't need one. If you do, consider buying used.

When I rented my current laptop for my studies (a decision that was not my own, let me assure you) I was surprised at how sluggish Windows Vista was. It felt like everything was delayed and and slow. I installed Ubuntu on a side partition and suddenly everything was back to normal. And yet, I noticed that the desktop was not any more springy or special because I was running a machine 4-to-10 times more powerful than my original laptop.

The machines I run would be what I'm given. As someone studying code and programming, I don't need much.

I have a desktop I've repaired and thrown together. It has 1 GB of RAM and an Intel E5200 processor. For a Linux user who wants to build a stable, fast and versatile machine, I suggest something along these lines. It is running, if my memory serves me correctly, Fedora 11, and it has few flaws for my uses.

Related blogs to this subject:

-HeliOS project - A heated and somewhat angry yet educational walk down with a man who founded an organization in Texas for donating Linux-installed second hand computers to those in need.

-Linux ecology how-to - Discussions about using Linux in an Earth-friendly manner. Minimalism and power saving technologies go hand in hand.

-K Mandala - A nice and interesting blog from a man who uses only command lines and who used to be an Ubuntu forum moderator.

-Lightweight Linux - A fellow Blogspot blog about using lighter Linux systems for older computers. Outdated at times, and not updated much, yet still interesting to read.

What do we need?

I started to consider all of the things I do on my laptop now that I've moved to Fedora 12 (an excellent, simple and well crafted release). I'm following my own advice, considering what I want and eliminating what I don't.

I tested the newest version of KDE 4 and found it to be far beyond the minimum of my computing requirements. It's so fancy that the desktop icons are sectioned off into their own little widget. There's even a dedicated cashew like icon in the corner of the screen that does nothing but waits for you to click to add more widgets to your screen. Useless, needless clutter.

I'm still in Gnome, but I'm learning slowly so that I can configure a desktop without its help. The main hurdle is still Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi support is still lacking outside of the usual Network Manager that Red Hat developed, so moving to Awesome would require firing that nasty daemon up every so often.

To alleviate my horror at using such a bloated Gnome desktop, I strived for clean and neat - a system that Gnome does not fight against. My directories are organized, my menus display only three programs (Firefox, the Terminal, and gedit), and my icons and bars are consolidated into one. Every day I make Gnome smaller and smaller.

My short term goals are:
-delete one program from my computer every day (I have a lot hidden in that mess, and I still have yet to clean up after KDE 4)

My long term goals are:
-consolidate my programs into a select four or five
-stop using Windows Vista entirely (at the moment, I use it only for for syncing my iPod nano)

We shall see where my path leads.