[lug] Efficiency prioritized Linux desktop

Rob Nagler nagler at bivio.biz
Tue Apr 14 07:35:30 MDT 2020

Very impressive, Steve! Thanks for sharing. I always find these layouts

> With grep, awk, sed, cut, sort, head, tail, tee, cat, less, dmenu, and
maybe UMENU2 and python,

Out of curiosity, why not just roll all that up into Perl? Since learning
Perl, I haven't found the need for sed, awk, cut, sort, etc.

Since learning Python, I understand why Perl is so much better for file and
process management. I program in Python most of the time, because I am
working in computational science and people have gravitated towards it,
especially because Jupyter is such a powerful tool for their problems.

I do a fair bit of Bash, but most of the awk/sed/sort/etc. stuff is done in

The other thing is dmenu. I do most of my typing in Emacs. I find it gives
me everything I need that something like dmenu might offer me. When I'm on
a server, the "hot keys" still work. I also find being in a real editor
buffer for the shell commands is quite powerful.

Admittedly, on a Mac, I do use {}-space to invoke Mac programs and run the
mini-calculator. I could do that latter in Emacs calc-mode, but it's more
of a habit now than anything else.

I was thinking about this Desktop conversation, and I think it is a lot
like being a magician. When people watch me do things, they ask "how did
you do that?" And, my answer is: decades of practice. I watch people who
are excellent with a GUI, and I'm completely lost. We learn tricks over

Here's a trick I was reminded of recently:

As I said, I work on computational science software some of the time. We're
building a SPA on top of physics codes. I do more backend stuff, but I was
having to debug something in the GUI. The numbers were failing in a unit
test, but the GUI looked right, but was it right or was there a slight
difference? Bring up the production version of the page in one tab, and the
development version in another. Make sure they are both at top then
control-tab between them. You'll easily be able to see changes, even at the
pixel level. Turns out the numeric differences were insignificant, and were
caused by some change in the underlying physics code, not the visualization

I've been doing browser development for over 20 years, and I've done that
type of comparison before, but I am not as practiced as my co-worker who
knows how to make the browser do all kinds of tricks.

The flip side is that I recently saw him do this on the command line:

find | grep something

Not something I've ever done, but it works for him. It's hard to be a
magician in a variety of different domains.

Maxwell: I might have taken the heat off you with some of the above
statements. :)

Good Morning,
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