Wifi manager

If like me, you use a laptop very often it is helpful not to have to manually configure your connection with iwconfig.

wicd-curses is so far the best wifi manager I’ve come across. Sorry, not pic for this one as I’m working on my desktop at the moment.

File manager, media player and window managers

File management is one of those things we don’t speak or think about, but its so crucial to our day to day computing needs. Window managers, so often neglected and not thoughtfully considered, are so important. It’s one of the first things you notice when recklessly abandoning X is the distinct absence of a windows manager.

The picture above shows four awesome things!

Media player

mplayer works in a frambuffer!

mplayer -vo fbdev2 -zoom -xy <scaling> -geometry <x>:<y> (positioning) <video file>

Video files, audio and media streams work perfectly, just make sure you’re in the video group.

File manager

One of my old time favourites, and one of my oldest memories when starting with linux, Midnight commander. Do you remember Norton commander? Apparently it still works even in Windows 7.

In the bottom left, Midnight commander is the unix equivalent and boasts many features for every conceivable need.


Bottom right is htop. A very pretty and useful ncurses view of processes and your system. I have it on all the time, not that you need to watch the CPU when X isn’t running.

Window manager

Last but not least, you need a window manager. Something to let you stick more into a window. dvtm works exceptionally well. tmux is also apparently quite popular.

Browser sans X

links2 works wonders. I’ve tried w3m, links, lynx and elinks but links2 just works the best.

Ideally, frames, tables, javascript and images should be supported. links2 does all that, in a manner of speaking.


In our company mail and documents are stored in google drive. None of the browsers tested could log on and work on google drive. There are some that suggest downloading / syncing files to the local directory and then working on them, but there are problems with that, notably a suitable word processor and spreadsheet.

Other than that, it is an excellent browser good for daily use, my pick.

Life without the GUI

Some weeks ago I really wanted to try something new, different. I’ve always been a fan of text consoles, perhaps stemming from my younger days starting out with computers. In a moment of nostalgia most likely I decided to abandon the GUI. More specifically, no X. Just curses, frame buffer, text only even.

Googling for other similar minded individuals I was surprised to find only one other successful. I was very fortunate to come upon one additional individual that managed to attempt this, as it turns out mammoth, feat and failed.

I did manage to go a weekend without X. In many ways it was a huge success. But for day to day tasks at the office it may be a bit of a problem.

First the requirements for a successful transition

  • Chat clients
  • Media
  • Browser
  • Word processor
  • Spreadsheet
  • File managers
  • Mail
  • Calendar

In the posts to follow I’ll share my findings.