Software Minimalism is a Joke

I used to think I was a software minimalist. I like software that does what it says it does, and does it well. I think the Unix Philosophy is something that we can all learn from, but I am far from a zealot worshipper of it. In reality, the Unix Philosophy is far from practical. Some folks will preach the Unix Philosophy but at the same time contradict themselves by using Linux, Vim, Firefox, or god forbid, Emacs (I‘m an emacs user). If an application does what it needs to do, and does it well without effecting things outside of its domain, why wouldn‘t you use it? Most likely, you‘ve fallen into the harmful world of software "minimalism", where arbritrary measures of package count and memory usage matter so much that you‘d be willing to be less productive just to keep them low. If you want to be a TRVE minimalist, you‘ll need to install Arch Linux by hand, use a tiling window manager, and of course, use ed. Oh wait, I got the last part wrong, you‘ll need to use a Vim, that‘s the one. What do you mean Vim doesn‘t follow the Unix Philosophy?

Stop selecting software based on unfathomable, and unpractical views like the Unix Philosophy, and "minimalism". Instead, start using software that is of high quality, free, and that YOU like. Recently I heard of someone switching from FreeBSD (good software), to OpenBSD (also good software). But the reasoning behind the change was questionable. "I like FreeBSD, but it uses too much RAM! My minimal install uses 4Gb of RAM idle on FreeBSD, while the same on OpenBSD is less than 512Kb! FreeBSD is anti minimalist!" ..... Ah yes, utilizing your hardware to improve performance is "anti minimalist", stop caching!!! This mindset of having resources sitting around because "minimalism" is an aesthetic spook. You paid for it, why not use it? FreeBSD uses ZFS which will use as much RAM as it needs (unless something else needs it), to improve the performance of the file system. It is almost like people select software based on how well they assume other people will react to them using it, rather than for themselves. Oh wait, things like Unixp*rn exists, people actually do pick their software based on others opinions. Thankfully, a lot of software in the BSD and Linux world is good quality, hell even most "minimalist" tools are of good quality, but if you‘re picking them based on how well they fit the "minimalist aesthetic", you might as well not use an OS that lets you pick and choose. I used Vim for almost my entire time as a developer, but I realised that I was using it because that‘s what I saw everyone using with their installations. About a year ago, I realised that I hadn‘t really tried anything else, and that I was sort of falling into this counter-productive train of thought. Since then I‘ve used XFCE4 and GNU Emacs with a basic configuration. I have never been so productive in my entire career. Of course though, this would never be considered "minimalist".

Now obviously, if you‘ve built a workflow that you really like using tools that are traditionally considered "minimalist", that is okay! This post is to advocate for individual thought and expression in the world of BSD and Linux. If you think you‘re stuck in this mindset, go and try something new! If you use Emacs, try Vim, and vice versa. If you‘ve only used KDE try out GNOME, I really could care-less about what you‘re using, I only care about WHY you‘re using it.

Quote of the Week: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. -- Oscar Wilde