30 days in a terminal: Days 6-8 — The slow descent into madness

Living entirely in a text-only shell is totally, completely doable. You’ll be miserable as hell, but it is doable.

On June 16, just a hair over one week, I started using the Linux terminal. Exclusively.

Up until that point, I'd been a lover of all things command line—my fondness for text based interfaces, and unreasonably old technology, bordering on the legendary. Despite that, I've relied on graphical interfaces for the better part of the last three decades.

I've always told myself that I could, if I wanted to, do all of my computing entirely within a text-based shell—and never leave. With the number of times I've suggested this to myself, you'd almost think I was trying to goad myself into it. Throwing down some serious nerd peer pressure—on myself.


Follow Bryan's journey: 30 days in a terminal


Could I actually get my work done and do the things I expect to do on a computer? I needed to know the answer. It was beyond time to simply give in and attempt to actually do it—to swear off a modern, GUI entirely and see what the heck happens.

A full week in—and I have thoughts.

It turns out that, with a few non-critical (mostly) caveats, it's entirely doable. Which makes sense. People (including myself and, I'm guessing, a large portion of those reading this) spent years where the best thing we had on our computers was a text-only shell. Hell, we were lucky our computers had screens at all and didn't simply print out the results—using an actual printer.

So, of course, it's doable. Let me repeat that: Living entirely in a text-only shell is totally, completely doable. Anyone who tells you it's not doable possesses an overabundance of equine manure. I could, without the slightest doubt, live the rest of my life never touching a single graphical interface—and utilizing simply a nice little terminal be able to do my job, advance my career and live my life. It would be fine.

Miserable as all hell—but fine.

To say I have a newfound appreciation for GUI's would be a massive understatement on the level of “sour cream tastes bad.” 

A truly terrible idea

Seriously—this sucks. Living only in a terminal sucks so terribly much.

In the past week, I haven't watched a video on my computer. I've rigged up a system where I can play YouTube videos using an ASCII text renderer. And while the results are entertaining (and mildly trippy), when there's a new trailer for the next Star Wars movie—and all you can do is watch it in ASCII-art form—it’s just sadness. Lots and lots of unrelenting sadness.

Oh, and I spent some time today emailing people to get some upcoming video recordings scheduled. The emailing part worked great (naturally), but I can't pop open Gimp, Kdenlive or any of my other tools I use for video production. So, I couldn't check how I'd set a few things up, which is a real pain. Also, never mind the insanity of scheduling activities for later because I can't do them now because of an artificial restriction I imposed on myself for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

Seriously. The next time I come up with an idea like this, you all need to stop me.

You know what else I miss? Going to a webpage and having it look like anything other than text vomit. That would be just keen. I'm telling you—I would kill for an animated .gif stop sign right now.

It's day eight—of 30. I'm going to keep going. I'm not sure why, but I'm going to keep going. Will I make it to day 30? I’m really not sure. I'm not even sure I'll make it to day nine. But I'm going to try. 

For the next article, I’ll get back to talking about the specific ways I'm living—and which pieces of software I'm using. But for today, I needed to vent.


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