When I first switched from OS X to Ubuntu for my daily development work, one of the things I missed a lot was Divvy. “Window throwing” is the purpose of Divvy (and Spectacle, which I later replaced it with). With a single keyboard shortcut, I can make the foreground window fill the right half of the screen. Or the left half. Or the bottom right quadrant. Or the whole screen. Any rectangle I care to define.
This began as a quick reply to a discussion on the Well about a recent posting from John Gruber which links to a hit list from Crackberry.com about the iPhone. Gruber focuses just on the keyboard issue, about which I found I had this to say: With the built-in spelling correction, I can type close to 30wpm on my iPt keyboard. This is faster than I ever was with Graffiti, which I used for about 8 years and was pretty good at if I say so.
During a quest for things that might make using my spare laptop – an old 800MHz, 256MB thing running Ubuntu – a more zippy experience, I came across “wmii”. It’s a lightweight tiling window manager with a lot of auto-sizing and keyboard control features. I’m really liking it. This laptop has never felt so responsive. Other similar tools include dwm, xmonad, Ion, and ratpoison. Of the lot I’ve only tried dwm, which was cool but a little too minimal (its customization method, by design, is edit-source-and-recompile).
An opinionated minority of advanced computer users are rebelling against the WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointers) model of HCI. They are developing and promoting alternative interfaces (typically desiigned to work with unix-based systems) that embody their opinions. I haven’t used any of these yet, but here are the ones I keep encountering references to: Ion Ratpoison Orion StumpWM Most if not all of these credit the terminal-only GNU Screen (a program I do use) with inspiration.
Two and a half years ago I wrote a review-like essay on six weeks spent using FreeBSD and KDE as my primary desktop system – when I was between PowerBooks. As hinted at in a recent post, I now have a second machine alongside my 15" PowerBook. It’s an old Dell Inspiron 4000 running bleeding-edge Ubuntu 6.06. This includes GNOME 2.14 with the Deskbar – which gets compared to Quicksilver but is more like a hybrid of Spotlight and LaunchBar.