Do more with less

I hope I won’t be out of line if I point out that abandoning X on one machine, eschewing both X and the framebuffer on another, and spending a lot of time compiling on the third … seems to have had a rather positive effect on my productivity.

Which is ironic to me, since that last machine, the fastest one, is the only one left that does — or at least can — run an X-driven graphical environment. The others either don’t, by choice, or can’t, because the hardware is ancient.

And yet in spite of that, I get the strange feeling that I am actually getting more done these days that I did when I was using a “typical” desktop.

Maybe I should change that to “distracted by a typical desktop.” Yes, I’ll just say it out loud, instead of insinuating: The time I spend drifting around the Internet, looking at random tidbits of news or trivia, is much slimmer in a text-only/framebuffer-only environment, than in a graphical one.

Nothing is lost in the conversion, in case you’re wondering. If I want to read the news, I read the news with elinks, and then I go back to work. If I want to dig up information on how to fix something, or if I want to find a torrent for a new distro release, or if I want to check Wikipedia for a random (and hopefully trustworthy) fact, I can still do those things. I just seem less likely to be distracted — time spent looking for point A is a lot shorter, if I’m not drifting away to look at points B, C, and D.

It’s true that I still have the option of a full X desktop on at least one machine, and probably another, if I’m willing to search-and-destroy my troubles with X and the Silicon Motion driver. But so long as I’m reliant on X-less systems, I am enjoying a considerable improvement in focus.

The moral of the story: Find an old machine and fine-tune it to run without a graphical desktop. You’ll be surprised at how much more you get done. ;)

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11 Responses to “Do more with less”

  1. 1 CorkyAgain 2009/05/11 at 6:26 AM

    I’ve noticed the same thing. Something about the graphical environment sucks me into a prolonged period of idle browsing.

    Maybe because it IS so effortless? When all I have to do is point and click, my experience is largely passive — exactly like sitting in front of the teevee with the remote, channel-surfing for hours on end. And there are so many bright and shiny things competing for my attention.

    In textmode, I’m more actively engaged. Less distracted, more focused.

  1. 1 A visit with Arch « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/05/14 at 9:26 AM
  2. 2 Pictures at an exhibition « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/06/18 at 8:40 AM
  3. 3 What’s to like? « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/07/12 at 10:43 PM
  4. 4 A bad workman blames his tools « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/12/22 at 9:23 AM
  5. 5 A Windows XP-ish Debian at 120Mhz « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/24 at 8:23 AM
  6. 6 Your way is the right way « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/03/09 at 10:21 PM
  7. 7 In pursuit of productivity « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/04/14 at 8:01 AM
  8. 8 fbterm on a 150Mhz Pentium MMX, 32Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/07/05 at 9:20 AM
  9. 9 Howto: Switch to a console lifestyle « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/10/19 at 10:32 PM
  10. 10 Xorg or Wayland: Color me disinterested « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/11/20 at 7:47 PM

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Some recent desktops

May 6, 2011
Musca 0.9.24 on Crux Linux
150Mhz Pentium 96Mb 8Gb CF

May 14, 2011
IceWM 1.2.37 and Arch Linux
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

Some recent games

Apr. 21, 2011
Oolite on Xubuntu 11.04
L2300 core duo 3Gb 320Gb

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