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Re: Very slim Desktop Manager

On Thu, Nov 13, 2008 at 05:25:07AM -0600, lee wrote:
> Well, maybe I should learn more about using framebuffer stuff

why? If you are satisfied with X, you have no real reasons.

> > Clearly I am aware that there are some kind of applications which are
> > developed only for X (and my thanks go to developers for developing
> > such applications at all, even when I find them not adequate for my
> > needs).
> Yeah, like plan for a calender

I have no use for that (I have also no exact idea of what a "plan for a
calendar" is), but I tink something ncurses based exists, and that
apt-cache search might find this.

> and a web browser

no, console browsers exist and are adequante for 90% of my needs

> and spreadsheets

I do not use spreadsheets but

apt-cache show sc

> and
> mail clients

mutt is infinitely better for my needs that anything I have ever seen,
and one of the (many) reasonos which make it better for my needs is that
its user interface is anti-GUI

> and games

old svgalib games exist. However the only game I have ever used is
tetris inside dos navigator inside dosemu (even if there are native text
only games for unix).

> and pdf viewers


apt-cache show bmv
apt-cache show fbi

> and database interfaces

command line intefaces to database exist and are developed by the same
developers of the databases (mysql, postgres, ...). I do not use

> (though
> openoffice still sucks to the point of unusability in that)

the idea itself of a office suite sucks, and I have no use for it.

> and
> calculators


> and image processing software (like gimp)

i do not use it (but I have seen it), and I agree that nothing of this
kind has ever existed in linux, dos or whatever for the console.

> and instant
> messengers

i do not use them, but the first "instant messanger", talk on unix and
phone on vax, is text based. There are many more, even with "modern"

> and phone software.

I do not use them, but being audio (no video) I think that if and when a
console developer will need it, it will be ported. Obviously I am not
considering proprietary things.

> Those are not "rare applications", they
> are what I'm using.

which is completely different from what I am using (as I said, denemo is
my only substantial reason to use X, at the rate of about one time in a
month), and "rare" was evidently referred to my use.

> them, there might be a substitute than you can run on a console, but it
> is so much easier to use the GUI application.

This is a very correct argument. It is the same as my argument, except
that (1) in my argument console and X interchange their roles; (b) in
your case you are equally able to use console and GUIs, and in my case I
ame completely lost with GUIs 
> ATM, I have 5 terminals open plus claws plus firefox plus plan plus
> emacs, I'm logged in on two consoles and gnome-panel is running (to
> provide a few icons, the dictionary plugin and a clock). Eventually add
> gimp, gaim, gnumeric or openoffice, ekiga. How would I do that with
> only 6 available consoles?

I do not do such things, and I am very happy in not having to do them.

> Maybe it's possible to get more consoles? If
> I was reading mail from a console, I would use at least two of them for
> that because I eventually look back into other mails in a thread while
> writing one.

you can use gnu screen in only one console

> The webbrowser usually has about 10 tabs open, somtimes
> more: How do you do that with lynx?

If you want that, use ten copies of links in one screen.

But I use lynx history instead.

> > very possibly we visit quite different web sites
> Yes --- but that doesn't mean that the websites you don't visit are not
> worth seeing.

obviously: everyone can chose to see or not see whatever prefers to see
or not see.

> See the attached screenshots, one is of lynx, the other
> one is firefox, both showing the same forum.
> Now which one is more useable/user friendly? 

lynx. Infinitely.

The first evident thing is colors. But one can configure both lynx and
mozilla to use (and force) whatever colors one prefers (infact, this is
one of the first things I do when I have to meet mozilla: edit
preferences ... fonts and colors, and set a sane minumum dimension for
fonts, and *force* a decent shaped font, and *force* colors like green
[or white] on black)

The other evident thing is that lynx does not display annoing and
useless icons. But fortunately you can set mozilla such that it does not
display images automatically (unfortunately mozilla no more has a old
and useful feature of netscape: do not show images by default, but a
command can show the images in the displayed page without changing the
default. But there should exist mozilla extensions for this now)

> (How do you take a
> screenshot of a console?)

A jpg scrennshot? I have never tried, but I am reasonably sure it is
possible. If I recall correctly dosbox can take a jpg screenshoot of
what is running under it, which means that the method is known. 

[Google search ... first hit:    
     Linkname: Screenshot program for Linux text console(s)
        URL: http://bisqwit.iki.fi/source/snapscreenshot.html
I will send you in private the file
snap.tga 532866 Nov 13 14:44

For a txt screenshot, see "hardcopy" in man screen. Or try script,
conspy, ...

Obviously, you can take a digital photo of the monitor, but I do not
have a digital (or not digital) camera, and I have no real interst in
images (even if I have a strong interst in music; the two things might
be related since is find images _very_ disturbing when listening or
playing music).

> You can do all that on a console. But isn't it so much easier to do it
> under X11?

no, because _for me_ the conceptual framework of a windowing interface
is very disturbing and stressing. It is tolerable when I use a _single_
and wery well behaved X application like denemo, but in general I must
find all available triks to obtain a X which resembles console as much
as possible. And obviously X will always fail in comparation with the

> That would all be possible if there was a solution for the
> problem with the fonts.

I am not convinced that my problem is _only_ with fonts.

> > If I want to see them inline, I use links2 either in svgalib or in
> > framebuffer mode.
> So at least it's possible :) But doesn't it mean to sort of turn the
> console into a GUI?

no, the user interface of links2 is like the one of mc, or any other
ncurses TUI

> > One crazy but amusing idea could be running some fast and lean free
> > win32 browser (kmeleon?) under wine.
> Nah, I tried wine a few years ago on the computer of a friend of mine.

I am told that wine has improved considerably in the last years.

> wine. And what better browser is there for windoze than some branch of
> mozilla?

I do not have or use win, but I know for sure that mozilla under linux
and under win is _NOT_ the same (even if much is in common, obviously),
and that there are many more developers for mozilla under win than onder
linux, which explains the better features under win.

Incidentaly, from what I had occasion to see, win has by default a much
better integration between "win32 console application *in full screen*"
and "win32 GUI application" than the default integration in linux/*BSD
between vt consoles and X.
> into .muttrc, and I would not have the filtering, processing and SPAM
> filtering options claws offers

you can use spamassassin or any other kind of "server" spam filtering
with mutt (however I do not need to do this locally, the servers are
alreding doing this)

> I have no reason to, and claws does (so far) everything mutt
> does

I am very happy for you. For me claws cannot do the *most important*
thing, which is to work in pure text mode and without a GUI.

> > But you not even need this, since there are commands like openvt
> > (also, search "kbrequest" in /etc/inittab and in the documentation of
> > openvt)
> openvt says: "Unable to open VT 8: Permission denied". For kbdrequest,
> I couldn't find anything?

in /etc/inittab

# Action on special keypress (ALT-UpArrow).
#kb::kbrequest:/bin/echo "Keyboard Request--edit /etc/inittab to let this work."
kb::kbrequest:/usr/bin/open -us -- /bin/bash --login
> > Moreover there is gnu screen, so that I use only one vt for user
> > (yes, I use different user for different tasks: one for e-mail, one
> > for web surfing, ...).
> What is the advantage of using different users?

security. A mail malware cannot do anything against my web downloads,
and a web malware cannot do anything against my mails. And both kind of
malware cannot do anything against my (for me important) mathematical
.tex files and musical (.ly .mid .wav and so on) files.

Yes, you can have something like this also with X, but (1) X is
intrinsecally less secure, see OpenBSD documentation to understand why;
(2) when you start X as user1 and then (even with the sane method of
xauth, not to speak about insane methods like xhost) you give to user2
the right to use the display, then privacy of user1 is completely
compromised, and partly also security (se X documentation). You can use
two separate istances of the X server, at the expemse of more resources
used and the non-integration between the two X servers (unless you do
crazy things like vnc on localhost only; one day I will amuse myself by
using the svga version of vncclient to attach to a local X with
vncserver ...). But even withy two X servers, the potential security
hole of the direct memory acces of X is present (see (1) above).

> You mean you can open an X terminal and have it display what is
> currently being displayed on a console?

apt-get install screen
man screen
info screen
pinfo screen
tkman screen
tkinfo screen
$WHATEVER screen

> That's an interesting
> feature, how do you do that?

screen -x

Or also something like conspy should be possible (I have never used it,

> Still I'm not really understanding how you see using consoles (almost)
> exclusively as so superior to using applications and terminals with
> X11

I am not interested in any form of superiority.

I care about what my eys and my brain can use. If I am too stupid to be
able to use X, I have no problem in admitting this fact.

> terminal or tell the browser to display it with the default application
> and view it immediately, no switching involved.

To do an example, when I did

fbi -vt 9  /tmp/screenshot-*

(really a shorter command: an alias which expanded to that) to look at
your screenshots, the switch to vt 9 was automatic (I did not have to
press Alt-F9)

> When you use/see a GUI on modern hardware, is it still hard for you to
> read the fonts in a terminal?

yes. And incidentally, terminals are worse than the consoles with hight
resolutions on the modern (one years and half ago) amd64 hardware with
which I can sometimes do experiments. It was the least expensive
existing graphic card (R300 ati chipset or something like this), which
shows that at least the low quality modern card are still able to use
good text mode resolutions, and are also able to use flawelessy kino and
gimp in X (no 3d is needed on that pc).

Chi usa software non libero avvelena anche te. Digli di smettere.
Informatica=arsenico: minime dosi in rari casi patologici, altrimenti letale.
Informatica=bomba: intelligente solo per gli stupidi che ci credono.

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