[lug] Efficiency prioritized Linux desktop

Steve Litt slitt at troubleshooters.com
Tue Apr 14 14:01:26 MDT 2020

On Tue, 14 Apr 2020 07:35:30 -0600
Rob Nagler <nagler at bivio.biz> wrote:

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

Oh man, you ask a tough question. I was a professional Perl programmer,
1996-2002, so I have some idea of what it can do. And you're right, it
can do anything, and for an interpreter, it's pretty darn fast. Testing
I've done tell me that at runtime Perl is quite a bit faster than

You're right. For most things, the able Perl programmer can achieve my
desktop in Perl. The reason I personally opt for sed, awk, grep and the
like are:

1) Each is highly optimized, completely debugged C code. Quick!

2) I don't like Perl anymore. This is a personal thing, unique to me,
   beyond the scope of this thread. I do acknowledge that when it comes
   to regex, Perl rules.

3) Development speed: For very simple stuff requiring 10 lines or less
   of /bin/sh, I get it done more quickly with a shellscript.

4) Evangelizing value: The minute I require Perl or Python or any other
   language to achieve my Linux desktop, people say "I'm not a
   programmer", and give a DIY interface no further consideration. Now
   you and I know that /bin/sh is a programming language, and in many
   ways it's more difficult than Perl, but let that be our little
   secret :-)


> 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.

Expertise with Emacs opens up a whole new world of productivity. You
now have Org Mode and a docbook input method. Emacs is a front end tool
to a whole lot of handy and essential stuff. If I were an Emacs guy,
I'd do just what you do. I have a bad wrist caused by a gymnastics
injury when I was 14, this wrist starts hurting when I've typed about
500 words in a day, so I've avoided Emacs because of the wrist-twisting
hotkeys. If I didn't have the wrist injury, I'd probably do exactly
what you've done.

> 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've logged a lifetime total of 10 hours on Macs, but it sounds like
{}-space would work pretty well if you have command completion. But if
you have to spell out the whole command, you're already losing time
over dmenu and UMENU2.

If I were on a Mac instead of a Linux box, the first thing I'd do is
implement my interface on the mac. Then I'd slowly see what native
coolness Mac offers, and change my habits accordingly.

Steve Litt
March 2020 featured book: Troubleshooting: Why Bother?

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