Why I'm so Terminally Terminal-based

blog computing cli

published 2023-08-04 20:49

updated 2023-09-22 16:13

Today I did something the "aesthetics" part of my personality really didn't want to do. I increased the font size on my terminal. It's so much cooler to have tiny 12 size bitmap fonts used for everything. It's an antidote to modern web design lingo, with it's wide empty spaces, amphibious lines and the veneer of usefulness. Density is the name of the game, and the more text you can pack into your screen, the larger the context you can interpret without moving. So obviously I wasn't thrilled to increase the font size.

I did anyway, because it was getting hard to read, and my current setup places the laptop screen quite far away from my face. I'm used to a larger screen, but I don't have one anymore, not since moving. It was a $20 dollar monitor, certainly not worth shipping half way across the world. I was previously able to use the smaller font without any trouble, but now I contort my body into all kinds of strange shapes as I move closer to the screen in order to read it.

And with one small config change, every one of the applications I use is now scaled in a way that I prefer. Well, I suppose I still had to change Firefox and Nheko, but every other app scales correctly. No fractional scaling nonsense, no broken UIs, no change in hardware requirements. I can read comfortably again!

This isn't the only reason I use terminals as much as possible. I developed mild RSI a couple years ago, largely because of mouse usage is what I'm led to believe, underneath my scapula (the back elbow bone). It's been getting worse lately. I should probably get it checked out again. Keyboard navigation has been crucial in managing my pain. Terminal applications always support keyboard navigation. I too wish keyboard navigation was more navigable, more discoverable, more accessible. Whatever form it takes, personally I'm partial to ctrl-K style command palettes. But even if it's emacs-style shortcuts, or a vim like navigation language, anything is better than no keyboard navigation. Give me a GUI app that supports keyboard navigation in every way and I'll use it. Nheko and Firefox (with Tridactyl) both show that this is possible.

Finally, I guess there's also the matter of resource utilization. This isn't strictly true of terminal applications, they can be just as inefficient as any other application, but in general they tend to fall into a pit of success. There's no Electron that needs optimization for specifically targeting your application. Terminal apps also tend to be Local-first, though that seems to be becoming more common for web apps too.

Anyways, those are the big reasons I'm a die-hard terminal junkie.