IDG Contributor Network: Should you run Linux without a desktop environment?
linux without a desktop environment?

One of the best things about Linux is that there is a wide variety of desktop environments available to choose from for your computer. But not everybody uses a desktop environment like GNOME, Unity, etc. Some folks prefer to skip them entirely, for various reasons.

A redditor recently asked about Linux users who skip desktop environments, and he got some interesting answers.

Foldaway_throwaway started the thread with these questions:

Any of you out there run your Linux without a Desktop Environment? Not on the dusty 1990s crap in the corner but utilizing your main computer as a terminal only?

What do you run? Why do you run it this way when you can run more aesthetically pleasing DE's?

More at Reddit

His fellow redditors shared their thoughts about using Linux without a desktop environment:

Kamiheku: “"Without a DE" doesn't necessarily mean terminal only. I use herbstluftwm, a window manager, and a suite of programs I've chosen myself. Some of them are graphical, such as Firefox.”

TheMSDosNerd: “Bryan Lunduke tried it for 30 days and wrote an interesting article about it.”

Cataclysmicc: “Check /r/unixporn - Lot's of people without a DE. I don't use a DE on either of my daily drivers. Just i3wm+terminal emulator+qutebrowser”

Bitwize: “I run i3 or Window Maker -- bare WM -- on my main machine because I don't give a…about A E S T H E T I C S when I'm computing. The UI should get out of my way and let me get my work done.”

Anantshri: “I have thought of this, however if its your work machine or daily use machine you need graphics. A general day for me ranges from using browser for browsing email etx to write code to performing administration over ssh or rdp to editing and reviewing docs/spreadaheets/slides be it ms office/libre or google doc all needs me to have gui. So currently occupational hazards prevent me from doing it. ”

Rrohbeck: “My file server runs text only. No reason to waste memory on a DE.”

Cdac1234: “If you meant any kind of GUI environment, I don't see any reason not to use one. I can use terminal apps more efficiently with X Window. Can switch between multiple terminals quickly, and doesn't have to stick with 80x24.

If you meant full desktop environments, like GNOME, I can and I do sometimes live without them (I am currently using one, though). Window managers (*wm or *box) are often sufficient (and may be preferable, if you are going to heavily customize them).”

Idas_Hund: “I use i3 with things like URxvt, Vi, Ranger, Mutt, GNU Screen, rofi, Weechat, Bitlbee, mpv, youtube-dl, youtube-viewer, Newsbeuter, feh, sxiv, livestreamer-curses, streamlink, t, khal, vdirsyncer, abook, htop, rtorrent, jmtpfs, davfs2 and more things that I can't think of now (currently at work).

The only things with a GUI that I use today is qutebrowser (a Vi-like web browser that's 100% keyboard driven) and GIMP. I have really tried using web browsers like w3m and elinks, but unfortunately todays web is way to bloated. But qutebrowser is a great browser anyway so I'm totally okay with it. :)

Why? I have always like the idea with the terminal in Linux. It's one of the reason I started using Linux. But back then I was really into to fluff like Beryl and the terminal was only used as a tool because it was cool.

It all started when I felt that my web browsing was a bit inefficient using only the mouse. So I looked around for an add-on that would make Firefox more keyboard friendly. I eventually found Vimperator.

Back then I didn't know shit about Vi/Vim, more than it was a weird editor that you can't fucking close without killing the terminal. ;)

I become quickly fond of Vimperator - it complemented my current workflow with the mouse very well. I could use my other hand to close tabs with 'd' etc. Over time my surfing got really efficient and that made me curious - if Vimperator can make surfing the web this good, then perhaps that weird Vim editor isn't that bad after all? So, I read about Vim and started using it. It took me literally hours before I was hooked with Vim. I was mind blown!

And it was after that moment I truly understood how powerful and efficient a keyboard driven workflow can be. The terminal is not just some niche thing nerds use to look cool. :P ”

73VV: “Mostly use Linux as a main box for infrastructure security assessments - most of the tools I use are console-only.

A couple of years ago I decided to give tiled managers a try and never looked back. Tried getting Kali's Gnome to play nice with i3 but that didn't work so spun up my own distro (I guess).

[Debian 8 + i3wm + Terminology]”

Frogdoubler: “I use ratpoison because it stays out of the way (no taskbar, no window borders, no title bars) and has nimble keyboard shortcuts. In most DEs one can use shortcuts to resize & reposition windows, but in ratpoison you're able to create semi-permanent frames, assign arbitrary windows to them and cycle through them with the keyboard. It also uses an rc file similar to vim, which makes it easy to add your own actions or change the theme (you can change the prompt borders, colours, padding, positioning, font, etc.).”

More at Reddit

Second build of ChromX released

ChromX is an open source alternative to Google’s Chrome OS. The developer of ChromX has announced that a second build has finally been released for desktops and laptops.

Marius Nestor reports for Softpedia:

GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton informs us about the availability of the second build of his custom compiled Chromium OS distribution, ChromX, an open-source alternative to Google's Chrome OS for Chromebooks.

This appears to be the second time the developer compiles Chromium OS from sources, and the new ChromX build (170212) comes more than eight months after the release of the first one (160525). It's built only for modern 64-bit machines and designed to be installed on any standard desktop or laptop computer.

You won't be able to keep your current Linux or Windows operating system and also install this Chromium OS version, unless you install it separately on a second disk drive. The OS is designed to occupy the entire disk and not to be installed on a separate partition.

ChromX Build 170212 appears to come pre-installed with numerous popular applications, including the Chromium web browser, YouTube, Google Maps, Spotify, WGT Golf Game, Secure Shell, Google Play, Webflow, HD Wallpapers, Video Downloader, Quizlet, Filer, and many others.

More at Softpedia

Is 8 GB too much RAM for a smartphone?

Smartphones have improved a great deal over the years in terms of hardware. But now some are wondering if the amount of RAM that will soon be included in new smartphones might be jumping the shark. Is 8 GB of RAM overkill for a phone?

Aleksandar Ognjanovic reports for Mobile Internist:

Eventually, we’ll have to ask ourselves is there the software appropriate for 8 GB of RAM? In a few years, probably. But at the moment 3 GB of RAM is quite sufficient for all the apps. Even for the most demanding, HD graphic intensive games. Then why to fix what isn’t broken? Instead of improvement, that can lead to a more bloatware and lack of optimization.

The battery, on the other hand, is something worth upgrading. We already talked about Li-Ion batteries as the underwhelming technology that needs to change. Why not address this issue rather than upgrading on already sufficient RAM memory? You won’t use your phone for complex demanding operations like some workstation PC. On the other hand, better battery life is an enormous upgrade to all handheld devices.

Additionally, with Nougat, Android introduced renewed ART (Android Runtime) feature called Just-In-Time (JIT). With this novelty smartphone boots faster, require less storage space, update faster and, eventually, optimize apps RAM consuming. So, one more reason to look at the 8 GB RAM like an overkill.

At the end, maybe the manufacturers know something we don’t and this is a reasonable move. Or they are just justifying the high prices by adding the cheapest hardware upgrades. Opinions are divided and the time will show who was right. We hope that we managed to vividly present both points of view on the subject.

More at Mobile Internist

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