Tips for installing windows and freeBSD both.. anyone??

Chad Perrin perrin at
Sun Nov 7 20:57:22 UTC 2010

On Sun, Nov 07, 2010 at 06:58:45PM +0100, Polytropon wrote:
> On Sun, 7 Nov 2010 09:41:06 -0800, Chip Camden <sterling at> wrote:
> > I'm not here to bash desktop environments, I seriously want to know you use them to
> > improve productivity.
> Yes, would be interesting to know. Not that I deny it - I just have
> no evidence from my experience and observations on how this could
> be achieved.

I think that, in most cases, the people who use KDE and GNOME are just
taking the trade-off opposite to the one I take.

I choose a little up-front learning curve for massive efficiency and
productivity enhancements down the road.  The increased efficiency of a
minimal, composable toolset driven by the keyboard can be a huge win in
long-term productivity for one motivated to learn how to use it, as well
as a major savings on system resources (and hardware costs, since
upgrades do not need to happen as often, nor be as cutting-edge).

Others choose some inefficiency in the long run to avoid having to learn
anything new up front.  The increased discoverability, at least for
simple tasks, of a point-and-click interface tends to seem more
"intuitive" and familiar to people just coming to a new system for the
first time, makes task completion easier to figure out the first time
(and the thirtieth, since point-and-click interfaces tend to require
figuring out the same tasks over and over again).

> > Now I find that any time I reach for the mouse, I'm slowing myself down.
> A TrackPoint (the little joystick-like pointing device located
> in the middle of the keyboard) seems to be a good repacement
> for a regular mouse, and in any case for fingerslime glidepads.

I use a ThinkPad regularly.  Sometimes, it's nice to have a separate
mouse.  Even when using the TrackPoint, though, I'm still much slower
than when using a well-designed keyboard driven interface.  It takes
longer for me to swing my mouse pointer from the side of the screen to a
given link on-screen, then left click it, than it does for me to type
"f37" in Firefox+Vimperator, "fas" in Chromium+Vimium, or "fl37" in uzbl.

Also of interest, Chromium loads the page on the other side of that link
in about 75% of the time it takes Firefox to load it, and uzbl loads it
in about 33% of the time it takes Chromium to load it.

> > It's more efficient to use the keyboard even to switch focused windows
> > or to follow links in a browser (provided that the window manager and
> > browser are equipped with usable shortcuts).
> Important point! But in reality you see keyboard support more
> and more left out for the GUI programs - allthough they COULD
> provide good keyboard support. WindowMaker (as a window manager)
> and Opera (as a web browser) are, in my experience, examples
> of how to combine good keyboard support with good mouse support.

Vimperator and Vimium do much better jobs of combining those capabilities
in my experience (for Firefox and Chromium, respectively).  While uzbl
does not do as good a job of combining those approaches, it does a good
enough job at the keyboard-driven stuff that it is a very rare case when
using the TrackPoint would make more sense -- and, when it does make more
sense, uzbl's mouse-driven interface support works fine.

I used to use WindowMaker all the time.  I switched to Sawfish when I
disocovered that it required less configuration to fit my particular
needs, though WindowMaker had been "close enough" that making the
requisite configuration changes was not a huge burden.  I switched to
AHWM when I discovered it, because it required almost zero configuration
to make it suit my needs pretty much exactly.

I have experimented with a couple of other window managers since adopting
AHWM, but nothing has quite served to entice me away.

> > I use a tiling wm (xmonad) to maximize visibility, real estate usage, and
> > navigability.  No overlapping windows unless I say so.
> Tiling window managers, as I've often seen, seem to be the choice
> of the advanced / professional users. Sadly, their magic didn't
> open up to me yet. :-)

If you're inclined toward minimalism, productivity enhancement, and
efficiency, and do not mind editing configuration files by hand, but have
not really clicked with tiling window managers, you might want to give
AHWM a try.  It's in FreeBSD ports.

> Coming back to your initial statement: For users EXPECTING something
> to act in a specific way, KDE and Gnome really "boost" their
> productivity, as it doesn't force them to question or relearn
> things they take for granted.

That's a pretty good summary, minus some of the implications, of what I
said at the beginning of this email.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]
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