My current desktop

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Ratpoison, zsh, GNU screen and Vimprobable

My current desktop has slightly changed over the last few years. Below a small list of the most important parts of my desktop.

My desktop is slowly evolving. Early 2005 I switched from blackbox to ratpoison. I have been using GNU Screen from somewhere around 1997. In this year I switched to Vimperator for surfing the web. Recently I discovered grml. Grml comes with a great configuration for zsh and now I have switched the shell on my laptops and workstations to zsh.


Early 2005 I switched from blackbox to ratpoison. I have been using ratpoison since then and still do today. Ratpoison is a great window manager. No window-borders to eat up your pixels, no icons to clutter your desktop. And most of all, ratpoison is totally controlled by the keyboard. No mouse needed.

Ratpoison gives the opportunity to split the screen horizontal or vertical. Very rarely I use this option. Most of the time I have all windows stretched out to the maximum. This removes distractions from activities in other windows.

Ratpoison uses the same key-bindings as GNU Screen. This means zero learning time, when you are used to work with screen you can immediately work with ratpoison.

Ratmenu or ratmen is IMHO really required for an efficient usage of ratpoison. Ratmenu comes with Debian. Ratmen comes with OpenBSD. The differences between ratmenu and ratmen are small. The syntax is a little bit different. Axel wrote me that he favours ratmen because its better support of UTF-8.


Like most other Linux users I grew up with bash. Once in a while I looked at zsh. Getting a good zsh configuration was quite a daunting task and it seemed using zsh required a lot of learning.

With the installation of grml came a very nice configured zsh. While doing some work on a machine with grml installed I discovered how nice it is to work in zsh. Recently I have copied the zsh configuration to all my laptops and workstations and switched completely to zsh.

GNU Screen

GNU Screen is a very great tool. When you use ssh or when you tend to use text mode utilities like IRC-clients, web browsers, RSS-feed readers and the like. you should really install GNU screen and learn how to use it. Grml comes with a nice screen-configuration.


Most of the applications I use are text mode applications. Vimprobable is one of the few graphical applications I use on a daily basis. It is a webbrowser based on libwebkit. It tries to mimic vim as much as possible. For vim users it doesn't take long to learn how to control Vimprobable.

Because of the keyboard control of Vimprobable and the use of the famous hjkl-key-bindings, Vimprobable is efficient in its usage. Since I started to use Vimprobable I am using elinks less frequent.

Other favorite applications

There are a lot other tools, utilities and applications I use every day of almost every day.

  • vim: for text editing and more
  • mutt: the best email client
  • cvs: call my old fashioned, but cvs is still good enough for me
  • m4, awk, sed, make: when you love to write and use scripts, these are some very useful utilities
  • scrollz: a very nice IRC-client
  • LXC Linux Containers: LXC Linux Containers brings containers to Linux. It is an efficient way to run almost virtual machines. LXC runs on the standard kernel.
  • KVM: I love to run virtual machines, kvm is the hypervisor that is build into the Linux kernel
  • w3m: w3m is a text mode webbrowser that comes with vi-like keybindings. It offers tabbed browsing.
  • newsbeuter: newsbeuter is a great text mode rss feed reader.