If you’ve ever seen me work, you probably know that I am quite comfortable with the command line. In fact, I prefer opening a terminal or writing a shell script rather than booting up a file manager; I can do a lot more on the command line, without taking my hands off the keyboard.

So, my desktop environment of choice is Ion3, a keyboard-driven tiling window manager for X11. Recently, however, Ion3’s author has made it non-free and has removed Xinerama support; this does not bode well for my particular use-case. I often have my work laptop plugged into another monitor (a “head”, in X11 parlance), and with XRandR 1.2 I can do this without having to restart the X server. With the two monitors, I have a lot more screen estate to work with, and I usually have one monitor with my code while the other shows documentation, or a terminal, or gitk(1) visualizing the project I’m working on.

Apparently, Tuomo Valkonen has this bull-headed idea that Xinerama is simply unecological penis enlargement, and that he seems to think that all current-day GUIs (WIMPs: Windows, Icons, Menu, Pointing device) and their proponents are complete idiots, and I doubt his ideas of the free software community and its behavior are all that accurate— he draws comparisons between the wiki communities and the FLOSS groups in one breath; those two communities may share the same ethos, but have vastly different mindsets and operational mechanics. Anyway. With the loss of Xinerama support, I had to drop Ion3 from my toolset and switch to another window manager/desktop environment.

My first option was WMII, another keyboard-driven tiling window manager. Although I like its management policy, I felt that it was still lacking as it too did not have Xinerama support (yet). I needed an environment with Xinerama support, so I shopped around some more. I opted to use Openbox 3, which I’ve used before.

Openbox 3 has the advantage of Xinerama support, a lightweight core, and keyboard shortcuts (which makes it 2 for 3 on my scale). I could have learned to live with it, and I could have been quite productive. However, the whole stacking and overlapping window policy was slowly getting to my nerves, and it was starting to annoy me that I had to move my hands off the keyboard to manage my windows. I have been too used to Ion3’s management policy, that I felt that overlapping windows was just not my bit.

So, after just a week on Openbox, I switched back to Ion3. I found that someone had hacked up a Xinerama support module, which was what I needed.

I’ll be sticking around with Ion3 for now, until WMII grows Xinerama support. Tuomo has been bull-headed from day one, and although I admire his hubris (I have to agree on the broad swath of his thesis on window management and user interfaces; it’s on certain details I don’t agree with), I dislike that he seems to think that his policy is the best, and that WIMP interfaces are wrong (although I don’t use a WIMP interface, I have to agree that the research behind them is pretty solid, and that they are usable; in other words, I disagree with Tuomo on that point). I disagree that the FLOSS community is completely wrong; in fact, I think that Tuomo Valkonen is an idiot for abandoning his users in this way.

I would have stuck with Ion3 for a long time, had it not been for this particular detail. Too bad. I happen to like Ion3, and I have been using it for more than three years now, a long time compared to the other environments I’ve used. With Tuomo Valkonen abandoning Ion3’s users in this manner, by pissing them off with intolerance and implying that they are ignorant, I am forced to move on to something better.

I doubt that Tuomo realizes this: the silent users are more than the more vocal ones, and that he is probably slowly losing that silent majority.

Previously: Hiatus.