Linux For Poets

My Computer Updates - Distro-Hopper Chronicles

In the last year or so, I have been trying to be less distracted, and do less random stuff like internet rambles about software. But you know what? That just makes me do fewer interesting projects and experiments, which is terribly boring. I don’t want to be boring or bored. So here’s a Linux update, straight from my noggin! I’m sure you were desperately wondering what software I, a woman you probably don’t know in most likely a different town, have been using lately! Well, here you go!

Strangely, I’m still using Pop OS. I kinda like it. It’s cute. I have not been a huge Gnome aficionado, because I like snappy, lightweight desktops, and Gnome is pretty but has always been a lil sluggish. But then I got this darling machine, a System 76 Gazelle with 16 GB of RAM, and I wanted to try it out with the distro they designed for it. I know it’s 99-1/2% regular old Ubuntu Gnome, but still. But it runs pretty well. I expect I’ll eventually do something else, but it’s a nice holding pattern. It’s fairly responsive - not the lightning response I prefer, but not slow enough to annoy me - but really, any Desktop Environment that isn’t responsive with 16 GB of RAM is sheer garbage and they need to try again.

And here’s my current favorite writing software:

Zettlr

Disclaimer: It’s an Electon app. If you hate that, it’s not for you. I don’t especially love Electron, but if the program runs well and does what I need, I’ll forgive it. I don’t care so much about the back end as I do that the thing works. For writing, I really like the layout that is used by the Mac system Ulysses. I know, that’s annoying of me, but it’s a nice layout - Markdown editor with folders and files on the sidebar, word counter, stats, and so forth. Most Linux Markdown editors are a single pane, and don’t have those bells and whistles.

Can I just rant about app layout for a moment?

Dear app developers: Please don’t hide the menus. I like things simple. Put the menus always in the same place, don’t hide them behind cryptic icons that are different in every program. I’m computer savvy, I can figure it out, but do I have to? That’s not an interesting use of time. There are a few Markdown editors I’ve found that were so busy trying to look pretty and novel and artistic, that the layout was frustrating, and it looked unpleasant and out of place with the rest of my system.

Zim

Always the best. Any time I set up a new system, the first thing I install is Zim. I use it for journaling and assembling notes on my herbalism class. High five Zim, I love you.

Nano

Surprise! It’s a command line program. You know how sometimes, you just think it would be more fun to write stuff on the command line? Especially if you have a really pleasant color scheme in your terminal right now? Mine is currently dark teal with green text and it’s so pleasant. That means it’s fun to pop open a terminal in the folder of your choice and type ‘nano filename.txt’ and do a little writing. It’s installed by default in most every system ever, which is handy. Sometimes when I’m journaling in Zim, I go to Tools -> Open Notebook Folder, and then use Nano to open the file I was just journaling in and write in the same darn file, but in the terminal. Just to keep it fresh! Zim updates with that file, and it’s great.

Which leads me to another rant about proprietary file types.

Or really just any file type that isn’t .txt or .md. Even in Linux, there are a ton of apps that use file names like aoidjfoiasdofjasdflj.json. And that’s fine for storing all the fancy file data, and I’m not trying to badmouth developers who need to use that data, but I won’t use it. I need a simple file system that I can access with any program I like, and I need to be able to find files in an accessible file structure, so I like programs that just list the files that are there and I can edit them with whatever program I like. This is why I use Nano instead of Wordgrinder in the command line. Having to go through an additional import/export step is a hassle.

PSNotes

This little friend is still a great one. Just creates Markdown or text files in the folder of your choice, and it’s classy and well done.

And… Simplenote

I know, you’re going to think less of me now. But sometimes I need to have an easy access universal text note syncing situation. On the plus side, they have open sourced their software, which I appreciate. I just needed something really simple for basically recipes and artist statements and Instagram captions. Nothing sensitive or terribly critical.

QToDo.Txt

Is a nice simple task list that has a GUI but works with Todo.txt, and uses a simple, editable text file to store the data. I use a notebook for lists too, but for digital stuff a digital todo list is handy.

Other Stuff:

Main Menu (called alacarte in the terminal) works well for editing menus in Gnome. I mostly use it to add a desktop launcher if I want to use a program that doesn’t have a proper launcher built in, like those ones where you just download a bunch of files and have to click the program file itself to run it. Those run fine, but don’t integrate properly in the system and need a launcher, hence Main Menu.

I’ve been enjoying GIMP and RawTherapee lately, for image editing, and Rhythmbox for music playing.

Syncthing is still great for syncing laptop to desktop, and tablet.

And my other favorite writing gizmo is the AlphaSmart Neo. It’s an old school word processor typewriter thingy, and you just write, then plug it into your computer where it mimics a keyboard and spits a stream of text into a document of your choice, while you don’t do anything else on your computer, because it would mess it up. It’s a nice keyboard though, and is a delightfully minimal way to type. Kind of like the Hemingwrite, only without Dropbox sync or the $500 price tag. I bought this one for $35 on Amazon.

I think that’s it, for the moment. I got some white tea, which is delicious, and our cats are super cute. Our dog is also very cute, but is still terrible on walks, but he is maybe slowly improving. So now you know about my life.

Have a nice afternoon.