Technology Today

Should OpenOffice.org (OOo) writer (the text editor unit of the OpenSource office suite) have the horizontal ruler, on the top of the page, visible by default, or should it be hidden by default? This is the argument that it should be hidden by default. If you become a registered user of the OOo web site, you can actually vote on this. Let me know how that goes.

Xfce 4.6 is released (yesterday). Xfce is a gnome-ish desktop for Linux that uses very few resources (and has very few bells and whistles). “Xfce 4.6 features a new configuration backend, a new settings manager, a brand new sound mixer, and several huge improvements to the session manager and the rest of Xfce’s core components.” Details here. Personally, I’m thinking about setting up an install that uses emacs as the ‘desktop.’ I’ve got an old laptop that I might try that with. I would have the simplest possible windows manager to run a web browser and do everything else in emacs. This would be for writing in coffee shops and similar locals. That would be cool. I would name the computer “Ivan.”

But even with emacs running the interface, one might want to use vim now and then. and since everything is running on the command line one would want to use regular expressions all the time. So I’ll be wanting to read about Using regular expressions in Vim

According to reports, OpenOffice 3.1 is blindingly fast, and it has some interesting new features and important bug fixes. It won’t ever be as good as my fantasy emacs system, but for a gui-office it is pretty impressive. Here’s and early look.

Qimo is Linux for kids.

Comments

  1. #1 Hank
    March 1, 2009

    Perhaps xmonad (http://xmonad.org/) might be an interesting window manager for such a minimal writing rig? I’m not sold on it myself, but then again I’m a virtual desktop kind of guy.

  2. #2 Henry Harpending
    March 1, 2009

    Greg I use xfce all the time, and I have heard before that it is “light.” Being not much of a GUI guy, I have no idea what I am missing. What can you do with gnome or kde that xfce can’t do?

    What it has going for it is that the window manager supports keyboard shortcuts for resizing and moving windows–no reaching for the despised mouse. Can’t live without it…

    Henry

  3. #3 Nathan Myers
    March 1, 2009

    If you care about speed and non-cruftiness, use Abiword instead.

    That is all.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    March 1, 2009

    Henry, I think Gnome has a number of applications that are top quality for system related tasks, and the file manager is very nice.

    As a Window manager, Gnome may or may not be better than Xfce, but probably not. Gnome has a button bar that you can ad fancy stuff to. It probably makes no difference.

    Abiword is, of course, a word processor and is not really the topic of conversation here…. but really, Abiword is so gooey … why use anything but Emacs???

  5. #5 CyberLizard
    March 2, 2009

    .. why use anything but Emacs???

    Um, because there’s Vim and gVim and you don’t have to remember commands like ctrl-shift-alt-f3-z. Not to start a Vim/Emacs holy war or anything ;-)

    I liked WindowMaker as a lightweight window manager. I wasn’t a big fan of the file manager in Gnome (Nautilus, IIRC?). It was a big resource hog, but then, I was running a crappy PII laptop w/512MB RAM. Not very impressive running much of anything.

  6. #6 Nathan Myers
    March 2, 2009

    My comment about Abiword was in relation to OpenOffice.

    Of course I use emacs… but I use it in viper mode. In insert mode, it’s full-on emacs. In command mode, it’s full-on vi. No compromises.

    (setq viper-mode t)
    ;; (setq viper-inhibit-startup-message ‘t)
    ;; (setq viper-expert-level ’3)
    (require ‘viper)

    Or just try “M-x viper-mode”.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    March 2, 2009

    Why is viper good?

  8. #8 Nathan Myers
    March 2, 2009

    Emacs viper-mode is Good because it transcends emacs-vs-vi. It is emacs, and it is vi, both at the same time. Astonishingly (at least, astonishing to me) the key assignments for emacs and vi are almost entirely disjoint. So, as I said, no compromises.

    Why do I want vi in emacs? More than any other single reason, for the “.” command, which has no analog in emacs proper.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    March 2, 2009

    My problem with emacs is that even with auto-fill mode, the stupid thing maintains line breaks at the ends of the lines in the text files it creates. I don’t ever want those newlines to exist. I only want newlines that I create to exist. No other newlines are authorized. It is hard for me to believe that people have been using emacs all this time without noticing this problem.

  10. #10 Nathan Myers
    March 3, 2009

    I’m no emacs expert, but the variable “use-hard-newlines” (use “C-h v” to see it) seems to suggest that there is a mode in which newlines are paragraph breaks. Also see “longlines-mode” and “longlines-auto-wrap”. I see a remark “The soft newlines used for line wrapping will not show up when the text is yanked or saved to disk.”

    I don’t think it’s possible for emacs not to be annoying. You have to choose to tolerate it, up front, and then figure out how to mitigate annoyances as they come up. People have been doing that for a long time, so there are lots of mechanisms built in to allow you to mitigate various annoyances, to the point where it’s practically all mitigations, and actual persistent annoyances are hard to point at. (Your problem seems to be one that has been addressed that way.) All the mitigations, in aggregate, somehow fail to keep it from being annoying, in aggregate.

  11. #11 Nathan Myers
    March 3, 2009

    … It kind of resembles, that way, life itself.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    March 3, 2009

    … or a religion …