With the increasing complexity of modern user interfaces the number of annoying bugs grows. What is worse, number of long standing unfixed annoying bugs grows. The overall number of bugs grows and I’m able to do something only with a small part of them. Complex user interfaces have been being released without coming through a serious testing process (a typical example is GNOME).
One way how to handle this situation is to move from the complex user interfaces that don’t work to simpler ones that do. I’ve recently switched from Sawfish and GNOME panel to Ratpoison and XFCE panel and I’ve been happy with the change so far. Ratpoison is, together with Stumpwm and Ion, a very simple window manager – no window buttons, no borders, no workspaces, no systray, no customization dialogs, no mouse support. Instead you receive a window manager that works, can be easily and completely operated from a keyboard, utilizes maximum of your screen space and is well customizable. I was surprised how little of the complex functionality of other window managers I actually need. Ratpoison seems to offer all I need and to be more comfortable for me than classic window managers.
At the same time I switched from Firefox to Conkeror. The primary reason was that I got annoyed by being unable to reasonably operate Firefox from keyboard. Conkeror is similar to the window managers mentioned above (no wonder – Ratpoison, Stumpwm and Conkeror were written by the same author). There are no toolbars, menus and other decorations, it can be operated from keyboard and it uses Emacs concepts (interactive commands invoked by M-x, buffers, mode line, minibuffer, echo area). Unlike Ratpoison, Conkeror has not been feature complete yet but it’s possible to invoke the standard Firefox interface from it in case you need it. Additionally Conkeror is just another user interface to the web browser and as such it can’t fix Firefox fatal bugs (such as crashes or freezes on certain pages). Anyway, I like it and I don’t miss the standard Firefox interface often.
Well, here is a screenshot of my current desktop, do you like it? 🙂