I’ve been participating in the SDF Plan 9 Boot Camp and I have to say, the farther I go into Plan 9 and specifically into 9front, the more I feel like one of those people who discovers a new religion and then immediately begins a descent into being a rabid fundamentalist.
There are things I don’t like, of course. I’m still trying to retrofit my writing workflow to 9front, but it’s made me realize some things about tools I’ve been using forever, and I’d like to catalog them here:
Things using 9front has taught me
- It is possible to have an operating system where the manuals actually explain almost everything important to you. (OpenBSD is good here, too.)
- Emacs is cool, and I still love it, but it’s both massively overengineered and a pile of hideous GNU hacks. I can, in fact, live without it.
- I’ve been using Org mode for things that are probably better suited for a pen and a notebook–planning, thinking, processing.
- My mental blocks around reading and understanding C code were at least in part because I was reading really bad and/or overcomplicated C code.
- I should get better at structured regular expressions so I can use Sam as fluently as I’m starting to use Acme.
- Mice and trackpoints are actually good, and the nerd obsession with never leaving the keyboard is kind of dumb.
- Subpoint: I should get a trackball.
- I want my software tools to be more like my 1980 Chevy truck: so simple that even a dummy like me can understand how it works and mostly fix it if it breaks. Only the tools on 9 seem that way to me at the moment.
I wish it had a current Tcl environment, because I recently did a deep dive into Tcl/Tk and quite liked it. But for now, I’m living without it happily. I’m even questioning whether text editors should really wrap words without line breaks, and that’s how I know I’m falling a little too far down this particular rabbit hole.
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