I have been using an Ubuntu desktop for the last few years doing the version upgrades and having no issues to speak of with it. But I also started to notice that the system was being a bit slow with larger applications like Firefox and others. Recently I have been moving back to my roots in terms of using terminal apps over pretty GUI versions. So I decided to take on the challenge of doing my once every two years complete reinstall of my home desktop with a slant on minimalism and cleanness.
I looked at various “distributions” like Crunch Bang, Dream Linux, Arch Linux, and countless others. Yet it is somewhat of a stretch to call most of them distributions since just bundling and branding or Debian based packages. So I decided to just go to the source and roll my own. This is by far the best option for a clean minimal desktop with only what you need and will use on it.
I have been using the free 2GB Dropbox account to store my SSH keys for our servers. Along with my mutt and other configuration files. The best part of Dropbox on Linux is being able to symlink things into the Dropbox directory to allow me to have the same configurations on all the various computers I use.
Basically what I do is have a .ssh_keys directory in my main computer’s home directory which I symlink in my Dropbox directory. Then on other computers I create a:
ln -s /home/myuser/Dropbox/.ssh_keys /home/myuser/.ssh_keys
I do the same with my .muttrc and any other configs I want to use. I even keep my wallpapers in the Dropbox folder where my awesome config file randomly loads one using:
awsetbg -f -r /home/myuser/Dropbox/wallpapers/
For some time I have been using Ubuntu as my desktop distribution. Recently even though my computer is quite powerful I have run into issues of slow going. The first thing I did was change to using Google Chrome for my daily browsing and Firefox as my backup browser for certain things. This has helped the issue greatly by just using Chrome and closing Firefox on occasion and restarting it when slowness occurs. Yet the speed still was not there as it use to be for me. So I made a simple but effective change to my desktop environment. I switched from Gnome to IceWM which has made all the difference in the world. Gone are the nifty yet resource intensive Compiz trickery replaced by pure simplistic beauty. Reminding me more of the basic X Windows days when all you needed was a terminal and your favorite shell. It seems in an effort to appease the Windows types the Linux sect has made their desktops bloated just like what they were trying to avoid doing. I only use a small handful of things throughout my day.
- gedit (or similar text editor)
- pidgin (for IM)
That is about it. I sometimes might open GIMP to edit an image or something to manage images when I upload them. But this is not a daily occurrence. For work I now use Google Apps which includes Google Docs so there is not even a need to use OpenOffice or a PDF viewer for that matter. It’s a minimal new world and I am just fine with that.