Why Why Why?

Why Linux?

Because I know Windows well but need to understand Linux better, basically, for work. But I know I’m not going to learn things well enough unless I turn it on as a fully formed, “daily driver”. As long as I’m on Windows boxes all day, that’ll be my comfort-level.

More specifically, why Arch?

The choices for me were basically LFS (linux from scratch), Gentoo or Arch Linux. I wanted something that was pretty stripped down yet customizable.

The Arch Wiki goes into the similarities and differences.

Arch vs. LFS:

  • LFS provides no online repositories; sources are manually obtained, compiled and installed with make. (Several manual methods of package management exist, and are mentioned in LFS Hints).

Based on my research, it takes hours/days of work to put together LFS. And God forbid I ever have to reinstall. LFS may be a project for me one day, but that day is not today. Maybe if I get some old machine out of a dumpster or closet.

Arch vs Gentoo:

  • Gentoo’s official package and system management tools tend to be rather more complex and “powerful” than those provided by Arch, and certain features which are at the very heart of Gentoo (USE flags, SLOTs, etc.) do not have any direct Arch Linux equivalent. Some of that is due to the fact that Arch is primarily a binary distro, but differences in design philosophy also play a big role, with Arch taking a more principled stance in favor of architectural simplicity and avoiding over-engineering.

Arch only supports x86_64, which is fine, since that’s all I plan on running it on. Manjaro is right now the 3rd most popular distro on distrowatch, which is basically Arch but with an installer. I’ve done all the steps in the install guide before so I ain’t scared. Arch it is.

Basically I want the most stripped down version of Linux that is reasonable for my needs, and I’m hoping Arch is it. If not, well, I can always try again.

Why Vim?

Perhaps shortsightedly, mainly because I have more learning resources around using Vi and Vim than I have with emacs. It’s free as in beer, which is why I want to use it over Sublime text. It’s also either preinstalled or available on virtually every Linux box. According to this survey, it’s also the 4th most popular environment, after Notepad++ (Windows only), Visual Studio (Microsoft Product) and Sublime Text (Pay) . I’m feeling cheap as I set this up.

Eventually, I won’t be surprised if I end up really wanting the absolute customization of emacs (being able to write extensions in Emacs lisp is pretty cool) or some other feature another text editor after using Vim for a while, but I’ve been wanting to learn Vim and this is my excuse.

Why Dvorak?

Because it’s faster, leaving your hands in better position much of the time.

But wait, this might not be true. Turns out that the research on this topic is scanty and perhaps contradictory.

So here’s the real reason: I think there’s a solid degree to which you are basically hypnotizing yourself into being able to perform when it’s time to work. It’s like an athlete putting on their socks in a certain order or performing a ritualized action over and over again in order to get into a proper emotional state.

As Stephen Pressfield says at the beginning of The War of Art:

1. W H A T I D O
I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I’ve got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer. My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for onlyeight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO name tag that came from a dream I once had. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair, so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer, which is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey, translation by T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, that my deal mate Paul Rink gave me and which sits near my shelf with the cuff links that belonged to my father and my lucky acorn from the battlefield at Thermopylae. It’s about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there’s a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It’s three,three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.

So essentially I am trying to associate work with a specific keyboard layout. Since right now I work and play on the same machine, it would be like trying to do homework with your TV. It is just really hard – the temptation to switch over from the homework channel to ESPN or whatever would always be there. So in building a distraction-free environment, I’m going to leave my machine as stripped-down as is feasible for my use.

So this is why. Next up is “How”.



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