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Minimalist Emacs

September 16, 2020

I’ve spent the last two years tweaking my Emacs config, especially the tools I find useful for my daily work and the UI in general. As I already said in the past, when you spend several hours in front of your text editor, you’d better like the UI.

During the last weeks, I spent a fair amount of time reducing the unnecessary glitter around the GUI, then the TUI, and finally the number of packages I depend on. I’m now well under 300 packages and less than 1.5s of startup. I could surely do a little bit more, but I’m overall happy with the job done. I’m not the only one apparently, and I’m glad to know that others are also cultivating the idea of minimalist interfaces.

Here are some of the packages/modules I removed along time, or those I never used anyway. The following mostly refers to Doom Emacs naming conventions (wrt. modules and packages):

I finally learnt to manage my Org files in such a way that I can now get an overview of my daily activities in Org agenda, while keeping track of what I’ve done in the past using simple todo lists. I’m not an GTD guy. I understand the idea, but I only manage a few files: a todo list, a collection of meeting notes, and a daily log book. There are additional files in my Org directory, but these are mostly auxiliary files that I don’t need to consult as often as the above working files. I don’t have much use of functionalities like archiving, refiling, clocking, or acting on whole subtrees. This may change in the future, as I slowly learn all the benefit of archiving everything in plain text.

I’m now fully into mu4e for processing my emails. This is not too surprising since I have been using it for almost 8 years now, but I never used it exclusively. I also use Elfeed to manage my RSS feeds. In the past I used to use Gnus, but Elfeed has everything I need, so I don’t want to spend another round of time configuring the Gnus beast.

I’m happy with lsp-mode actually. I’m still on version 7.0 since I didn’t upgrade my Doom framework for some months now. I did eglot a short try (after all, this package and sly were developed by the same author) but I much prefer lsp-mode, once we get rid of most of the extra features.

I’m also becoming more proficient for navigating through a text buffer when using Vim modal editing (either using Evil mode or in Neovim). There’s no other choice in fact since I cannot really use the mouse in Kitty, except for selecting and mouse-pasting. This probably is the biggest change in my writing workflow for the past 20 years! I like it, though. First, I like changing my mind if I happen to see any benefit in the alternative, and using modal editing helps me reconsider the way I can process test and code using a keyboard and my mind. Now I still use the arrow keys to navigate between nearby characters, but I no longer use the mouse.


See Also

» Monochrome color scheme » Emacs Org and Tufte handout » Running Emacs in a terminal » Recently » Editor war