Around this time last year I made a commitment on this very blog to stop dicking around.

The commitment, more specifically meant:

  • I’ll use a Mac.
  • I’ll use Sublime Text as my text editor. With a standard colour scheme (Mariana), and minimal tweaks and packages.
  • I won’t use Vim. Not because there is anything wrong with it, just because it doesn’t add anything.
  • I’ll use a standard 65%, or 80% US Qwerty layout keyboard. I’ll use the same size at home and work.

And as I write this, I’ve failed almost entirely. Let me justify my continued digressions.

Veering back towards Linux

There are a couple of things that keep pulling me back towards Linux. Firstly, tiling window managers. I think the floating Window UI paradigm, the kind of Window layout we are used to in Windows and Mac, is sub-optimal for the work I do. I have clearly defined task types in my mind: dev, communication, video editing/recording. Mac’s ‘Spaces’, with Hookshot on Mac goes someway to addressing this but it’s an approach full of compromises.

I’d like to try tiling window managers like i3 or bpswm. Readers used to the visual splendour of macOS will be horrified when they look at their stark utilitarian aesthetic but it really calls to me. There is Yabai for the Mac, but that requires partially disabling System Integrity Protection. I don’t really understand what SIP is but it doesn’t sound like something I want to be compromising.

The second thing that makes me think of Linux is my mind keeps pulling me towards the command line for tasks, rather than UIs.

That’s a fairly nebulous claim so let me give you a concrete example. Suppose I write this post and I want to convert the markdown I am writing into HTML that WordPress can use.

If I was in Sublime, I have the Pandoc plugin installed, and I can use the Command Palette, choose ‘Pandoc’, then ‘HTML5’, then it spits out the file, and I can select the contents of that file and copy it for pasting into WordPress.

However, from the CLI I can also do pandoc file.md | pbcopy and that converts the file and adds the HTML straight into my clipboard in one go. Such is the power of piping commands on the CLI. Powers I am only just starting to make use of regularly and a power that I find intoxicating.

And nothing has greater love for the CLI than Linux.

I have an M1 Mac Mini, that is fine, and the silence of it is wonderful but besides that nothing special IMHO. The lack of compatibility with various peripherals has been a major pain and as it isn’t x86 based I can’t use it to stick Linux on.

So, I’m considering building myself a Linux workstation and going back there, (albeit with Arch and i3/bpswm).

I’ve built about 100 PCs in the past but that was, literally about 20 years ago. It would/will be interesting to see what’s changed. Maybe said build will replace my M1 Mac Mini. Maybe not. More news on that to come.

Vim

Let me be clear. I love Sublime Text. I have just finished making a 3 hour plus Sublime Text video course so hopefully that proves as qualification of that.

But Vim pulls me back. Each time I end up back in Vim for a stint, my brain seems to be more aligned with it’s sensibilities and capabilities.

I’ve got Neovim singing currently, and most days I find something I can do with Vim that blows my mind. The muscle memory isn’t quite there yet and I stumble into 30 minute distractions with regularity about how to do things – check out Neovim tips Volume One for examples of the kind of things I mean.

Colemak on a split ortholinear keyboard

I’m really enjoying my Moonlander. It’s comfortable and infinitely ‘mess-around-with-able’. That suits me. No plans to change in this regard. Although I do swap out the switches every so often (BobaU4Ts at the minute for the keyboard nerds amongst you).

Still dicking around

So, all this is just to say, and admit to myself, that I’ve failed. I clearly can’t stop dicking around. I’m a tinkerer, and I don’t seem able to overcome my nature, even though part of me knows that endlessly trying different things can often be a massive time sink.

Maybe I just need to get comfortable with that part of me and embrace it? Regardless, I’m off to order a bunch of PC components and screw things up badly for a few weeks…