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Less Is Amazingly More

Posted 03-09-2007 at 09:59 PM by mowestusa

Can we really become satisfied with less? Our current culture encourages us to never be satisfied with less. Our current culture wants us to consume more and more. I guess that is why our economy is so driven by consumers.

In my computing life, I often have felt as if more would make me happier, more productive, and help me get things done faster. However, Linux and its powerful command line is helping me rethink my past ideas about using the computer. Today is the perfect example.

I have my church office and home linked with a wireless network, so all my computers at home can talk to all of my computers at the office. There is really only one machine at the office that I regularly want to reach out and touch, my Linux box which I keep running 24/7. This box is my back up server for my Windows XP laptop. It is my podcast downloader with a cron job and a great little script called bashpodder. It is also quickly becoming my workstation of choice at the office, often leaving my faster, newer, and technologically superior Windows XP laptop sitting idle. This Linux box is no speed demon. It sports a Pentium 500 Slot 1, with 320megs of ram. Well, enough rambling about my humble hardware.

I needed to get a Bible Study done today. I had started a draft of the study on this office server/workstation. I couldn't go over to the office to finish it, because I was obligated to be physically at home. I used openssh to access the office server/workstation from my beefy home Linux box. I fired up vim remotely, and finished writing the Bible Study. After closing the file, I wanted to check my spelling, so I ran a spell check from the CLI on the file. I wanted a copy of the Bible Study sitting on the networked copier when I got over to the office later in the day, so I used another CLI friend which I have spoken about, enscript.

Completely working from the command line while logged in remotely, I got done everything I wanted to get done before being about to physically return to the office later in the afternoon. I will be the first to admit that I could have done this same task a number of different ways which would have involved the GUI. I could have opened the Bible Study file remotely because it is on a Samba share in OpenOffice and edited the document. Although that would have worked, it was nice to simply be able to accomplish everything I wanted to do from the command line.

Sometimes we get used to using a graphical interface, and we figure we have advanced in our use of computers. After all these are not the days of DOS. Today we have fancy windows that we can move around, and we can have multiple windows open on a screen. We really feel like we have advanced because now we have a mouse that we can use to click on icons and make choices from menus. Just because I "down graded" in the eyes of so many computer users in the world by using nothing, but the command line, that does not mean that I was able to do less work, or that it took more time. With just a few keystrokes I was editing and writing before I could have clicked through all of the icons and sub-windows it would have taken to accomplish the same tasks. When you have to write as much as you do in this line of work, sometimes having an interface that offers less, gives you more focus on what you are writing, instead of worrying so much about how it looks on the screen.

I have a feeling that you will see more posts in this blog which focus on the blessing of the Linux CLI. I'll give you a hint. Right now I'm at home, but I'm editing a file on my office server/workstation with vim over ssh. To turn this entry into a blog post I will run asciidoc on the file, then upload the result to my archive blog site using ncftp. But that is a post for another time. Happy days to you on the command line.
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