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Command line computing part 1: Introduction

About this page

This page was originally published via the Gemini protocol. However, I've also made the contents available on this blog if you don't have a Gemini client. The translation you are reading is not perfect but it should be good enough.


I was browsing some records of internet history including RFC 1855, RFC 2664, and

I realised that I had a longing to have grown up in this kind of internet, where despite its restrictions, everything seems new and wonderous and free, with unlimited possibilities.

In some sick irony, despite the modern web being capable of doing far far more than the days of web 1.0 and the days even before it, the modern web also feels more restrictive and more difficult to touch, more difficult to feel, and more difficult to connect with.

Related to this, I thought it would be exciting to set up an environment for computing in console mode, the Ctrl-Alt-F1 on your Linux computer (and maybe in BSD and UNIX too, but I don't know). In console mode, you get a fully capable shell and environment, but with no graphics, no mouse, and a tiny character set.

If you want to try this at home, you will have a better experience using a terminal emulator within your graphical environment, since this will additionally support millions of colours, Unicode, and occasionally mouse support if you want it. I decided to try console mode for fun, though I can switch to using a terminal emulator at any time if I decide to.

Ground rules (very important)


Going into this I knew I would hit so many restrictions in things I wanted to do. This is why I decided from the get-go that I wouldn't restrict myself to the console only. If I want to use the graphical environment for any reason, I can switch to it and do whatever I want to. Graphics mode is excellent for...

  • Reducing frustration
  • Video games
  • Surfing the modern web
  • Point-and-clicking
  • Viewing images and videos
  • Copying and pasting betwen windows

And so, I am allowed to switch to graphics mode at any time for any reason. I'm not even trying to make console mode my primary means of computing. The idea is merely to use console mode *some of the time, because it is cool, not because it is required.*


Even if there are no rules, it would still be good to define some goals for this experiment, so that I can generally focus and target my attention.

  • To become more comfortable using applications in the command line.
  • To learn about exciting new (or, *old*) software and protocols.
  • To write in my [b]log more.
  • To see how online understandings and speech around gender, sexuality, and dress have changed over time.

There is no time limit and I should not feel bad if I do not accomplish any goals. These are directions I could travel in, not requirements.

So how is it going?

I'm still early in this experiment, but things are progressing in a more exciting way than I expected. I really like the emotions that the whole project has been making me feel.

I've been organising my links and thoughts in an offline personal document which I will be adding to as the days go by. Once I have enough material to make a focused post about, you can expect more frequent posts here again! I hope I'll be able to share a lot in the coming weeks. Hell yeah. I plan to write about the software I've been using, the difficulties I've encountered, and the wonderful things I've discovered.

(If you're a visitor from the future and I ended up not making follow-up posts, *please* send me an email to remind me to update this section of the site.)

See you soon!

A seal on a cushion spinning a globe on its nose.
Another seal. They are friends!