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Don't use the mouse

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Updated: 10.06.2015
Seriously, the mouse is evil. Don't use it, it's one of Douglas Engelbarts horrible creations, even worse than his keyboard which had only 5 keys.

1. Use a tiling window manager and do not enable mouse support. Good examples are ratpoison and bspwm.
2. Use urxvt as your terminal and install urxvt-perls for easy copy and link opening.
3. Use the (n)vi(m) or Emacs editors, and don't even think about turning on mouse funcionality.
4. Use the a command line based email client like mutt or alpine if you'd like something simpler.
5. Replace your file manager with Midnight Commander or prefferably Ranger if you want vi controls. Gnome-commander if you fancy a gui.
6. Install vimperator/pentadactyl on firefox or make the leap and use the wonderful vimb which goes perfectly with a tiling wm. (chrome + vimium is crap)
7  Find a nice command line music player. Cmus is a good example, but you can go for an mpd setup and use vimus or ncmpcpp.
8  Play videos with mpv.
9. Join irc channels with a free irc client: irssi and weechat are favourites.
10. Check your feeds with newsbeuter.
11. Downlod torrents with rtorrent.
12. Manage your volume with alsamixer.
13. Organise your calender with khal.
14. Multiplex your terminals with GNU screen, or tmux.
15. Open pdf files with mupdf or alternatively apvlv (slower but more features), and you'll feel right at home with vi controls.
16. Next time you join a wifi network, please use the alternative for your network manager such as nmtui, wicd-curses, wifi-menu or wpa_supplicant if you want to be in full control.


Some nifty usability ones to spice up your set up include: ratmenu, dmenu, lemonbar or conky.

These programs are probably going to be good for 99% of the things you do, and they are all the best in what they do, partially because they don't make use of the mouse. They also work great together since:

a. You can use the window manager bindings to execute cmus-remote or mpc to control your music in cmus or the mpd respectively.
b. The programs can easil be scripted. You can write or find a perl script that runs a system notification program when you get a new message in irssi or weechat.
c. The tiling window managers bspwm and ratpoison can be controlled bspc and ratpoison -c so you can make the integration between all the programs and your window manager seemles as you can have any program trigger any other.

Sounds amazing? Check these out and get some inspiration on the things you can do:
Angelic Sedition's Awesome Dotfiles
All my Dotfiles with Configs and more

And if you want a good fresh start with some nice programs check out the sick Ratpoison version of Salix:
Distribution with 0% mouse usage

P.P No mouse was used to make this post.

Last edited by vaskozl (10-Aug-2015 17:01:42)

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Your suggestions basically boil down to:

1. Use ratpoison, just because it forces you not to use the mouse.  The only problem: I absolutely *despise* its emacs-style keybindings, and it's usually the applications themselves that force you to break the flow and reach for the mouse--not the window manager.  I tried ratpoison, but I just couldn't use it.  But if anyone out there likes emacs, don't let this opinion bring you down!  Emacs users are just the types of people who would love this window manager; I just happen to be more of a vi fan.

2. Use text-mode tools when possible.  A good idea sometimes, but in my experience not always possible or practical.  mc might be a possibility, and possibly cmus if I could get it to work.  Not sure about the others though.  The problem is, in many cases there is a superior GUI application to do the job, and some of them even allow mouse-free operation.  Audacious, for example, seems to all basic control with the keyboard.  And with the Alt key, you can typically access an application's menus without touching a keyboard.

3. Use what effectively seems to be a renamed Vimperator for Firefox.  Good idea, except... I gave up frustrated with Vimperator because it screwed up the existing Firefox keyboard shortcuts I knew and it was to difficult to figure out how to use.  It just wasn't worth it when it seemed that its one major feature (in my opinion) was its ability to number all the links on a page for easy keyboard access.

But yes... kill the mouse to kill the pain... I do agree with the general theme of your topic.

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Can you hide parts of a window beneath others in ratpoison? (or any tiling wm, really)


UltraZelda64 said:

I absolutely *despise* its emacs-style keybindings...I just happen to be more of a vi fan.

How much does i3 manage to avoid use of modifiers (my main rationale for using vilike-bindings)?

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lalop said:

Can you hide parts of a window beneath others in ratpoison? (or any tiling wm, really)

You can use almost any tiling window manager as a "stacking" window manager with varying levels of success.  By that last part, I mean that some of them go out of their way to provide comfortable "floating" modes, while others don't see stacking as a priority as they are intended to be used as tilers; for example, i3's floating mode does not feature snapping windows to each other or the screen edges, while many dedicated stackers might.  In "floating" mode, the window managers behave in the same way as a stacking window manager.  You can move, re-size and "hide" windows by stacking others on top of them in the same exact way.  This is generally seen as a bad thing in the tiling window manager world though, and I agree, because it breaks the paradigm.  But it *can* occasionally come in handy.

lalop said:

How much does i3 manage to avoid use of modifiers (my main rationale for using vilike-bindings)?

I don't really understand what you mean by this, but you can pick your modifier using i3's first-run wizard (choices are Alt and Win).  The script will also look at your keyboard layout and generate a configuration file with a slightly modified set of keybindings if necessary.  I think it would be best to point you to i3's own keymap information/documentation page:

https://i3wm.org/docs/userguide.html

Right up at the top of the page, assuming QWERTY of course, is the complete default set of keybindings.  I use the word "default" loosely though, because when I first set it up my account was set to use the Dvorak layout, and the movement keys were automatically modified to be HTNS.  If you use Colemak and it is set as the keyboard layout when you run i3's wizard, the same would likely be true for the NEIO keys.

Edit: As for ratpoison itself providing a stacking mode, I'm probably not the person to ask, although based on its intention to completely eliminate the mouse at all costs I would assume that it does not offer such functionality.  A quick Google search returned results hinting that ratpoison does not have a floating layer.

Last edited by UltraZelda64 (31-Aug-2013 21:20:14)
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UltraZelda64 said:

1. Use ratpoison, just because it forces you not to use the mouse.  The only problem: I absolutely *despise* its emacs-style keybindings, and it's usually the applications themselves that force you to break the flow and reach for the mouse--not the window manager.

Smart guy! You've got the right idea: Emacs bindings are horrible, and ratpoison devs make sure that this is one of the first things you read on the home page. The only thing you need a modifier for is the default escape key, because they are not nasty enough to put it on the first layer. Once you bind it to something easy (ratpoison creator recommends the grave symbol), you never ever have to hold down a modifier key again.

And btw, ratpoison is more vim-like than emacs-like, making extensive use of the hjkl keys.

UltraZelda64 said:

2. Use text-mode tools when possible.  A good idea sometimes, but in my experience not always possible or practical.  mc might be a possibility, and possibly cmus if I could get it to work.  Not sure about the others though.

Actually I don't really like mc, even though it is all mighty. You love vim like me, so you should be using ranger.


The problem is, in many cases there is a superior GUI application to do the job, and some of them even allow mouse-free operation.  Audacious, for example, seems to all basic control
with the keyboard.

The only thing GUI music players are superior at is waisting resources. Can I use your music player to filter out all songs in .ogg format,  made before the 20 century who's genre is Classical but is not made by Bach or Mozart? 

And with the Alt key, you can typically access an application's menus without touching a keyboard.

So that it can then open a popup, and make me wear out my tab key. LibreOffice the only application I use these in, and it's horrible.

3. Use what effectively seems to be a renamed Vimperator for Firefox.  Good idea, except... I gave up frustrated with Vimperator because it screwed up the existing Firefox keyboard shortcuts I knew and it was to difficult to figure out how to use.  It just wasn't worth it when it seemed that its one major feature (in my opinion) was its ability to number all the links on a page for easy keyboard access.

Pentadactyl, is a Vimeperator that not only screws your shortcuts, but screws up your ui, the way it should be. It's actually hard to tell it's still the firefox browser. Pentadcyl:Vimperator is like vim:nano. Difficult is not an excuse once you start claiming you've tamed and etor like vim! Pentadactyl can view source, manage addons and downloads, etc. Nullifying the need of a rodent.

Also you shouldn't be using the numbers, you should be typing what you want to click. No more looking around for the download button for me!


But yes... kill the mouse to kill the pain... I do agree with the general theme of your topic.

The only excuse for using the mouse that I would accept from you is that you're playing quake :)

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I just mean that I got into vi to avoid using Ctrl or Alt.  I'm guessing this advantage does not extend to i3, however.

UltraZelda64 said:

You can use almost any tiling window manager as a "stacking" window manager with varying levels of success.  By that last part, I mean that some of them go out of their way to provide comfortable "floating" modes, while others don't see stacking as a priority as they are intended to be used as tilers; for example, i3's floating mode does not feature snapping windows to each other or the screen edges, while many dedicated stackers might.  In "floating" mode, the window managers behave in the same way as a stacking window manager.  You can move, re-size and "hide" windows by stacking others on top of them in the same exact way.  This is generally seen as a bad thing in the tiling window manager world though, and I agree, because it breaks the paradigm.  But it *can* occasionally come in handy.

I guess I'm looking for a hybrid; it wouldn't be a true tiling because of the overlap, but aside from that, the rest of the paradigm could carry over.

Correct me if I'm misreading, but it sounds like you're saying "floating mode" is just like the typical WM's, which would indeed defeat the purpose.  I intend to set an overlap when starting certain programs then use it indefinitely as a tiler.

vaskozl said:

you should be typing what you want to click.

How do you avoid overtyping?  That is, I usually type one or two letters more than it actually needs to popup a new page, which usually leads to some weird side effects in the current page since those extra letters get interpreted as commands.

Last edited by lalop (31-Aug-2013 22:31:20)
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lalop said:

Can you hide parts of a window beneath others in ratpoison? (or any tiling wm, really)

You can call a tmpwm if you are really evil. You can resize windows to any size.



How much does i3 manage to avoid use of modifiers (my main rationale for using vilike-bindings)?

Less than ratpoison. Ratpoison never uses modifiers and uses an escape key instead (default escape is C-t, but you can set it to anything), which is much more vi like. For example, in my setup, to yank something I press individually:

<esc>y<number>

And to paste from the buffer ( I have 10, 0 trough 9):

<esc>p<number>

To kill the window:

<esc>k

Many people make their escape key the capslock key, for obvious reasons.

The reason ratpoison is the best is that you can call it from any script using the "ratpoison -c" command. This allows you to automate a lot of things and to integrate it with all your programs. For example: When I private message on IRC, ratpoison prints it in the corner for me. You can have it so that it echos the volume level when you change it, echo the name of the song cmus is playing on demand, etc.

Additionaly, it is able to use the Meta, Shift and Super modifiers, as well as to bind keys to the 1st layer. E.g. have the numpad minus key close the window.

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lalop said:

How do you avoid overtyping?  That is, I usually type one or two letters more than it actually needs to popup a new page, which usually leads to some weird side effects in the current page since those extra letters get interpreted as commands.

I got used to it. When I see it react I stop typing.

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lalop said:

I guess I'm looking for a hybrid; it wouldn't be a true tiling because of the overlap, but aside from that, the rest of the paradigm could carry over.

Correct me if I'm misreading, but it sounds like you're saying "floating mode" is just like the typical WM's, which would indeed defeat the purpose.  I intend to set an overlap when starting certain programs then use it indefinitely as a tiler.

Yes, that is correct.  Floating mode is basically a mode in a tiling window manager that allows windows to "float" or be stacked in the same way that a typical stacking window manager would.  Quite often the use of these modes is discouraged--for example, this mode is of most use with pop-up windows like file open/save dialogs, and this is how i3 primarily uses its floating mode.  A window can be moved from the tiling layer below to the floating layer on top with MOD+Shift+Spacebar, or moved back with the same combination.  MOD+left/right mouse button will move or resize.  Some programs (like calculators) don't seem to work too well with the tiling concept, and for those you can set up exceptions so that they always open as floating windows.

If you want to be technical, "true" tiling window managers offer no floating/stacking functionality.  Those that do are generally considered dynamic window managers--and they usually tile by default, but provide a floating layer so the window can be used similarly to a stacking window manager if needed.  I also have VirtualBox set up to open in floating mode, because it tends to run very badly as a set of tiled windows--it grabs the keyboard and mouse constantly so resizing the windows can be a PITA, and its automatic resizing as the guest resolution changes makes things even worse.  I just run VirtualBox on its own workspace, while everything else is tiled on other workspaces.

i3 and dwm both support a floating layer.  I think xmonad and spectrwm also have floating functionality.

Last edited by UltraZelda64 (31-Aug-2013 22:58:03)
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vaskozl said:
UltraZelda64 said:

1. Use ratpoison, just because it forces you not to use the mouse.  The only problem: I absolutely *despise* its emacs-style keybindings, and it's usually the applications themselves that force you to break the flow and reach for the mouse--not the window manager.

Smart guy! You've got the right idea: Emacs bindings are horrible, and ratpoison devs make sure that this is one of the first things you read on the home page. The only thing you need a modifier for is the default escape key, because they are not nasty enough to put it on the first layer. Once you bind it to something easy (ratpoison creator recommends the grave symbol), you never ever have to hold down a modifier key again.

And btw, ratpoison is more vim-like than emacs-like, making extensive use of the hjkl keys.

In my quest to try out various window managers, I actually gave ratpoison a try, but didn't get very far.  The "C-t" keybindings really killed it.  openSUSE doesn't seem to have a package in its repositories, but my Debian virtual machine is still available for testing.  I would be willing to try it out, but where do I start?

The man page says that ratpoison will use ~/.ratpoisonrc, and if that file is not available it will use the system default configuration in /etc/ratpoisonrc.  Well, that's not available either, so I can't just copy that over and use as a template to modify to my own preferences.  No doubt one of the first things I will want to change is the C-t to some more sane escape key modifier, because for me the window manager is practically unusable by default.

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Did you read the friendly manual?

escape grave

makes the grave character the escape key

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UltraZelda64 said:

I would be willing to try it out, but where do I start?

ArchiWiki has a wonderfull set of examples and tips to get you up and running in no time.

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I don't blame the mouse for all my woes, I think the pointer is actually far more elegant than the dumb grid of switches that make up the keyboard.  It's an amazing invention.

That's not to say I don't enjoy keyboard shortcuts.

Lynx was doing numbered links before Firefox was even conceived!   Without heavy customisation, I find the find text in links pretty good with Firefox - instead of using forward slash (/), you use an apostrophe (').   Then just pick an obsure two or three letter combo to get to your link.  That can be a life saver for pages with obscured navigation.

I did flirt with Xmonad until I hadn't room for Haskell's runtime.  The thing  I was mostly interested in, was just jumping about windows easily and moving windows easily from one monitor to the other.  I find multiple monitor use such a pain under Windows and OSX, and it's a bit crappy with Linux workspaces.  So having better control over these is great.  I abandoned multi monitors in the end because I got so frustrated with them, and now use a pretty small display and workspaces, tiling window managers probably suit a large/higher res display.

There's quite a few tiling window managers to choose from I'd never even heard of i3 until a recent thread here on the forum.

Ranger looks nice thanks for that tip.   I lived in the console for a year on a Pentium 133 with debian and dialup so certainly appreciate console alternatives to guis.  On my aging old mac (RIP) it was really important to avoid resource intensive apps.  Mplayer and an organised file system is suits me as an audio player.  Each to their own ;)

Last edited by pinkyache (01-Sep-2013 11:17:43)

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Pentadactyl is a beauty. Everything is just thought out to perfection. It's so good, its hard to believe it is an addon. It works with history, other addons, settings, downloads and is full of brilliant features. For example you can click the "next" and "prevoius" buttons on any page, just by double taping the [ and ] keys.

Mplayer is something I forgot to recommend. It would also make lalop happy because it won't waste any space when playing a video :D.

Oh and btw, Ratpoison's multiscreen support is brilliant.

Last edited by vaskozl (01-Sep-2013 12:43:30)

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vaskozl said:

Did you read the friendly manual?

escape grave

makes the grave character the escape key

Well, that explains why it didn't work.  I had the following in my file:

escape `

Although it works nicely in a low-res VM and would work equally nicely on an old, antiquated monitor (which I no longer own), I'm not a fan of the way ratpoison insists on running everything in fullscreen, and switching between programs seems a bit clunky to me.  The splitting seems to work in an odd way, so I'm not sure that I'll even be able to get used to it really.  But, well, at least that C-t crap is gone.  Ctrl-spacebar seems to be alright for an escape key sequence too, actually.  Still having a hard time figuring this window manager out though, even using <escape> ? .

Last edited by UltraZelda64 (01-Sep-2013 19:13:29)
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I really don't want to post any configs because I believe that you will develop  your own best setup by yourself. 1 up for being brave. If you can't figure out something, feel free to mail me :).

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In 1984, mouse was invented so that people can have more intuitive interface, i.e, don't have to use keyboard all the time.

Now in 2013, vim and petadactyl are programmed so that people can use keyboard for every thing, i.e. don't have to use mouse all the time.

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For me it's a bit like GUI vs command line: When I use something I don't know well it's nice to have menus and clickable stuff to get a good overview. It's also okay for all those programs I use rarely.

When I use a functionality often, I try to learn to do it by keyboard only/mostly. My Extend mappings help there.

Last edited by DreymaR (02-Sep-2013 09:53:34)

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There is nothing bad with GUI programs. It's just that very few of them make no use of the rodent.

Apvlv and gnome-commander are good examples of gui applications that do their job well and don't value the pointer.

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vaskozl said:

There is nothing bad with GUI programs. It's just that very few of them make no use of the rodent.

I actually don't have a problem with programs that *do* make use of the pointer.  Sometimes the mouse works well, in fact.  The problem IMO is over-reliance, which I was almost completely oblivious to until I switched to a tiling window manager myself.  This is made worse by programs that do not have good keybindings and, in other words, actually *require* the use of the mouse just to function properly.  IMO a well-designed GUI application should be mouse-aware, but also be comfortably and completely controlled by the keyboard if needed.  This, I think, is where so many GUI applications fail miserably.  Well, other than often being bloated, but that's beside the point.

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UltraZelda64 said:

...

Exactly! There should be no reason to connect the mouse if you don't want to :)

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davkol said:

...such as drawing applications.

Two words: ASCII art.  But seriously, there are exceptions to everything; bitmap/vector editors are one class of applications, and trust me, I thought of them when I typed my previous post.  Hell, you could use an Etch-a-Sketch if you wanted.  In the interest of keeping the post shorter and avoiding unnecessary blabbering and confusion, I purposely left it out, because these random corner cases you might occasionally run across were *not* my point.  I'm talking about regular, day-to-day use, and unless your job or hobby is graphics editing, that's most likely not the case.

Sure, you might want a pointing device for a bitmap editor, but image editing is something I do rarely.  I am not artistic at all, so about all I ever do with the GIMP for the most part is minor modifications (cropping, resizing, etc.).  If I wanted I could have mentioned image editing in my original post which you replied to, but I honestly figured it would be pointless because surely everyone knows there are corner cases to just about everything.  And my idea is *not* to get rid of the mouse 100% as I thought for sure I already made clear; it is to reduce my dependence on it.  If I can carry a laptop around everywhere I go and never need to pull out a mouse unless I want to do some serious image editing or some other occasional, random activity, then I have succeeded--and that is the point.

Last edited by UltraZelda64 (02-Sep-2013 20:18:27)
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I just think use mouse or keyboard for a long time is bad for our fingers.
Now my middle finger is in pain.
So you guys should be pay much attention.

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vaskozl said:

Exactly! There should be no reason to connect the mouse if you don't want to :)

Out of the two input devices, the pointer and the keyboard, to me the keyboard is more wretched.  But yes, I wish OS makers would try and cater for both (and more).  For a while I managed to pretty much operate my old Apple Powerbook which had a broken keyboard with the pointer alone.  It's amazing how far you can get with it.  When I connected an external keyboard to the machine, it made ] getting to the trackpad difficult, which meant I then had to control everything with the keyboard alone.  It was possible and that was with an old OS version: OSX Tiger.  I tried the same with Ubuntu a few releases back and it just wasn't possible to use the default distro with just the keyboard.  Win8 is almost there with keyboard support (you do have to tab around the houses).  Today I had Google+ open in a tab in my browser and that wretched site steals away CTRL and Page Up/Down for tab switching - how evil is that?  It's those horrible little gotcha/inconsistencies that can make you miserable (like when Flash steals away the keyboard focus).

Last edited by pinkyache (16-Oct-2013 22:42:56)

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The point is to use software that is designed to be used with a keyboard, not just usable with a keyboard.

Have you ever thought about how hackers in movies always type rapidly on their keyboard instead of clicking around with the mouse?
Anakata from TPB:AFK is a good example of that. Richard Stallman the founder of GNU dislikes the mouse to the point where he rarely ever launches X.

I just hate how inconsistent the use of the mouse is. I also horrible how people are buying smaller and smaller keyboards so that they move their right hand between that wretched rat and their lovely efficient keyboards.

Vim and Emac's - the worlds most acclaimed text editors also ignore the rat, because their users and creators realize that the keyboar d is much more efficient.

Now, just don't get me started on touch screens.

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