Monday, 10 November 2014

A distraction free writing machine

A week or so ago I upgraded my old EEEpc to Crunchbang linux - and I’m quietly impressed with its capabilities as a distraction free notetaker and writing machine.

Since the upgrade I’ve used it seriously for two or three meetings and to write a couple private documents, including an old style put in the mail letter. Performance has been more or less flawless.

With only ReText (for markdown) and AbiWord (for anything pretty) and no mail client other than Alpine for getting stuff off the machine this means you can focus on the text, or when using it as a note taker, on what’s being said. No other email, no twitter, no urge to distract yourself with wikipedia.

And it’s good. It’s fast (and fast to boot), and nicely responsive.

There are some downsides - the browser is a pain to use, though, with the export capabilities of both Abiword and Retext there’s no real need to use external services like MarkdowntoPDF or Cloudconvert.

Basically, documents are written on the machine and then either emailed off to Dropbox if they need more work or to Evernote to archive. I originally didn’t bother installing printing, but I’ve since added printer support just for the ease of producing bullet lists or handouts.

One of course needs to be realistic - it’s a five year old low power machine with a small non standard display - you cannot seriously expect to run anything and everything on it - for example I’d have doubts about running an R session on it, or doing any serious text manipulation.

Or indeed anything meaty written in Java.

But I have other machines for that. What I do have now is a small format machine that can fit in a man bag, has a decent keyboard and battery life, and being small and light can be taken along on a trip as a second writing machine …

Written with StackEdit.

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