I started this challenge to try out new things and to make challenges a new part of this blog’s content. Daily articles might be a thing for other bloggers that either have more time or are just more capable of creating posts on the spot without an extensive proof-reading phase. I’m certainly not gifted with either. I cannot write daily challenges and keep the level of quality I want to deliver. Thus, I decided to put in the remaining days of this challenge into one article. It also has the side benefit that I can write down my experience whenever I have an appropriate amount of time to sit down.
Today was rather interesting. A friend of mine held her birthday party today and I was limited to the Terminal in order to a) find the right train online and b) do stuff other than instant messaging on my phone. This rarely made me check my phone at all and I had more time to enjoy the moment.
Terminal app of the day is wordgrinder. If you love the terminal but don’t want to put up with complicate text editors like vim or emacs, wordgrinder is the go-to app. Imagine if Word or Libre Office Writer was distraction free and terminal based. Well, wordgrinder is just that. You can do everything you could do with a regular text editor (except displaying images within the terminal without heavy configuration). I wrote a lot of articles within wordgrinder and love the export feature which outputs .odt, .doc, .pdf, Markdown, and even LaTex files. If you want to compile it later on, you can do that. If you just want your Libre Office file or PDF, it is absolutely possible.
This week is a series of birthday-parties and I can confirm that the phone usage dropped like yesterday. Interestingly enough I increasingly feel less of an urge to browse the web in order to kill some time. I just do stuff. Or I don’t and just think about things. I can’t remember the last time I just sat down to think about my life prior to this experiment. It is almost like a form of meditation.
App of the day is calcurse. I tend to be lazy sometimes and need a calendar to give my day some strucutre. I used to do my calendaring within Facebook (which I deleted) and Google Calendar (which I did not delete but don’t like to use anymore). I own a small pocket calendar for work but I don’t want to miss out on the sync to all devices feature. Calcurse pretty much offers me everything I need digitally. I can set up events, set reminders and even have my task list within the same environment. It is glorious. There is also some room for customization. You can change the grid of the components, color, and more. Calcurse can also output your calendar, which makes it possible to sync it via Dropbox, GitHub, OwnCloud or others.
Today is an interesting day because by now Facebook should have deleted my account for good. I also managed to grab a book and read outside today. The experiment/experience of the Terminal-Only week shifted my computing habits a little from being a passive user to an active one. If I need to get something done, I’m sitting down. If not, I just don’t bother booting it up.
When it comes to podcast, I didn’t want to miss out on them. Good thing is that there is a terminal app podcatcher called “podget”. It’s also fairly easy to use. You basically have a configuration file which includes all of the RSS podcast feeds and you tell the programm how many episodes it is supposed to download. You just enter the podget command and boom, it downloads the latest episodes right onto your PC. On Day 1 I recommended CMus as a in-terminal music player. Well, combine Podget with Cmus and you have the audio entertainment dream team!
Last day of the experiment. While there was nothing worth mentioning today I want to reflect on the experiment as a whole. The terminal is possibly the best feature of Linux (and maybe Mac? I don’t know, but terminal is terminal, right?) and using it for one week was an experiment worth doing. It made me appreciate my computers more as a tool for productivity and work than rather degrading it to a entertainment machine. I also wrote every article on my Raspberry Pi Zero, which is still incredible to me. I could do almost all of my work (except YouTube and recording music) on this little €10 PC without a hustle. Will I stay terminal-only? No. But I can do huge chunks of my everyday stuff with just text. I love simplicity and minimalism and this experience is definitely worth trying out yourself.
Mutt / Alpine
Today’s app of the day is Mutt (and additionally a honorable mention of Alpine which does the same with slight differences when it comes to the workflow itself). If you want to do most of your work within the terminal, you need e-mail as a way of communication. Mutt is an e-mail client for your terminal and let’s you do just that. (Alpine too). There’s not much to add. It’s just a great tool to send and receive Mails like you would with a GUI app, except that you can run it on almost any machine (since it works on a Pi Zero).
Since I don’t have any days left to write about other cool tools that improved this week’s workflow within the terminal, I will add some recommendations down below:
- RTV: Reddit is great. RTV opens up reddit within the terminal. Thus, rtv is great.
- Turses: Twitter might not be as great as reddit, but it still is pretty cool. If you want to use it within the terminal, you can do it with turses.
- Ranger: Within the terminal moving files around can quickly become anoyinng. Ranger is a file manager that solves that problem. You can easily access whichever directory or file you want with the arrow keys on the keyboard and Ranger also outputs cleartext-files in a preview screen so you can already see whether it is the text file your looking for or not.
- Vim: Don’t get me wrong. Wordgrinder is great for basic writing. But if you like some flexibility, need to do better formatting (with LaText, Markdown or HTML), or even need to do some coding, Vim is the go-to app. It might be a little confusing to get used to it but I would trade in most of the other apps for Vim if I had to. It allows me to work amazingly efficient and still offers enough functions to really fit my writing needs all the time.
- Emacs: Some people prefer it to Vim, some use it as an additional Operating System. I didn’t find the time / need to dive into it yet, but maybe you dislike vim and want an alternative.
- Glances: I like to know what my computer is doing right now and glances show me everything a task manager / system monitor would show me, but within the terminal.
- Grive2: Grive 2 is a Google Drive App for the terminal. You basically set up a directory that will act as a mirror of your Google Drive and it will update the directory as soon as you type in the comman grive. This might not run on a raspberry pi zero, but it works on the regular pi and basically every computer (if you manage to install it).
- NSnake: If you were born in the 90s, chances are your first phone was a Nokia with a black and white screen and actual keys. If that was the case, you definitely have played Snake before. It is a fairly simple game: You are a snake and need to eat some apples. If you hit a wall or bite yourself, you die. With every fruit eaten, you grow a bit. NSnake is just that, but within the terminal. If you want to live within a terminal (for one week), games like NSnake are a must.
Do you have recommendations for terminal apps? If so, please let me know down in the comments section.