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30 days in a terminal: Day 0 — The adventure begins

Jun 15, 20164 mins
LinuxOpen Source

In today’s world, is it possible to live 100% in a Linux shell—with no GUIs? Bryan Lunduke is going to find out.

Last summer, I wrote an article series called “Kicking Google out of my life.” It was an attempt to remove all Google services entirely from my daily usage for 30 days—a surprisingly daunting challenge for someone who had become deeply dependent on Google. I was mostly successful. I chronicled my experience—detailing how I approached replacing Google services with non-Google variants—and in the end, my life was better for it.

Did I return to Google for a few things (such as YouTube and G+)? You bet I did. But my heavy reliance on a single company finally came to an end, and I learned a great deal (both about available alternatives and my own personal preferences) in the process.

Well, it’s summer again. Time to shake things up—this time in perhaps a more fundamental way. I’m going to give up GUIs entirely—and live 100 percent in the terminal—for 30 days.

Everything—word processing, email, instant messaging, music, etc.—all in a Linux shell.

There are a lot of (potential) benefits to this. My CPU usage will likely be far less demanding, resulting in (theoretically) better battery life on all my gear. I’ll be able to utilize the same environment and software on every device I own. Performance should be top-notch.


Follow Bryan’s journey: 30 days in a terminal


And, perhaps most important, this will make me more cool. That’s right. You heard me. Using nothing but a terminal, in Two Thousand Freaking Sixteen, is cool. Don’t try to disagree with me on that; it has been decreed.

I am fully aware that I won’t be the first person to do all of their computing via a terminal. (Heck, my first computing experiences were with a C64 and early versions of DOS.) This isn’t a groundbreaking experiment here. But, for me—a guy who loves pretty, shiny graphical user interfaces and modern web browsers—this is a big jump.

I already use a terminal every day for odd tasks. So, why not take that leap and use it for absolutely everything? After all, we all lived in text-based consoles before the graphical desktops came along. Right?

A terrifying challenge

Can I do it, in 2016, in an enjoyable and productive way?

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure that I can. I have become so reliant on modern, graphical applications that the idea of leaving them behind (for an entire month) for a purely text-based world sounds terrifying. Exciting and intriguing—but damned terrifying.

I’m going to chronicle my adventure every step of the way—talking about the problems I encounter, the software I use to accomplish various tasks, and the way that I use my computer. The goal is that at the end of this 30-day journey into madness, you will be able to look at my experiences and decide what parts (if any) of it would work for you.

Will I end up living most of my days in emacs? Will I declare defeat and run, crying, back to the warm embrace of Xorg, modern desktop environments and my beloved LibreOffice? I have absolutely no idea.

There’s a lot I don’t know. How on Earth am I going to post to Twitter and G+? How am I going to record audio for my podcast? Even more distressing: How am I going to watch YouTube videos? HOW?!

I don’t have answers to any of that right now (though I do have a few hair-brained ideas). This is “Day 0,” after all. Today, I am getting my machines set up for my first day of “nothing but terminal.”

In the interests of full and complete disclosure, there may end up needing to be a handful of caveats in this journey. For my work, if I end up absolutely not being able to do a specific task via a shell, I am keeping one laptop at the ready to use—but only as a last resort. It will remain turned off unless a moment crops up where I absolutely cannot do something without, say, The Gimp or Firefox. If that happens, I will document it.

Phew. Not gonna lie. I’m a little nervous about this, but I’m determined to make it work. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.


Follow Bryan’s adventure of living completely in a Linux shell:


Bryan Lunduke began his computing life on a friend's Commodore 64, then moved on to a Franklin Ace... and then a 286 running MS-DOS. This was followed by an almost random-seeming string of operating systems: ranging from AmigaOS to OS/2, and even including MacOS 8. Eventually, Bryan tried Linux. And there he stayed. In 2006, Bryan founded the Linux Action Show - growing it into the largest Linux-centric podcast on the planet. He's also the creator of 'Linux Tycoon,' the video game about managing a Linux distribution. Today, he is a writer and works as the Social Media Marketing Manager of SUSE. On this here blog, he seeks to accomplish two goals: 1) To be the voice of reason and practicality in the Linux and Open Source world. 2) To highlight the coolest things happening throughout the world of Linux.