I am a harsh software critic. I’m usually willing to try something new if there’s the possibility it will do a better job than my current favorite, but I hold grudges against programs — and sometimes even entire desktop environments — if they disappoint me.
In addition, I am a minimalist maximalist. I have a clear set of criteria that I use to judge a program.
Do one thing, and only one thing.
Everybody likes a flexible program. But I don’t like software that tries to do too much at once. For example, I resent music management software suites or photo management applications. I manage the photos. I manage the music. The application shows it, or plays it. Period. If you try to be all things at once to me, you will only disappoint.
Do that one thing well.
A program needs focus — that goes without saying. If it achieves that goal and doesn’t muddle the final product, it is a winner. In other words, if you can’t do it right, don’t bother trying at all.
Don’t drag my system down.
If you burden my installation with pointless libraries and dependencies that don’t add anything to your software, you fail. Some of the greatest software ever written has about two dependencies. Some of the worst drags in all of Gnome just to put an icon on the screen. That is inexcusable.
Finally, points are awarded for style.
I can forgive and even adopt an ugly or cumbersome program if it achieves in the first three categories. But if you manage to capture all three and have a clever interface or a smooth look, then I embrace thee through the power of the Internets. The odd consequence of all these points is that I tend to rely on console-based, or at least framebuffer-oriented software over “standard” graphical applications.
And considering that has been the case for quite some time, I think I’m safe in recommending command-line applications over graphical alternatives. The more I use them, the more I realize that terminal-based software can do 99 percent of the work a graphical desktop does, with ten times the speed and a tenth of the resources.
And therefore, in no particular order or arrangement…