Ditch Your Mouse and Enhance Your Productivity

Posted on Mar 26, 2007

I don’t know about most people, but I’ve been frustrated with my mouse for just over a year now. It started with seeing the xgl/compiz demo video. I had a carnal lust for GUI effects, fancy window borders, mouse gestures, and vector icons. Like all candy, it started making me nauseous after ingesting too much of it. Pretty soon I was back to hot-keying my way through most applications and attempting to bend my window managers to my will as much as I could… wherein I found the source of my frustration; I’d always end up having to reach over for that little rat.

There are a great many solutions at antidesktop.net. This is what is awesome about open-source and Linux: options. Don’t want the eye-candy of OS X or Windows? No problem: you can be as minimal or outrageous as you want. For the folks at antidesktop.net and the various projects it lists — minimalism is the word of the day.

In the end, I chose Ion. It seemed to have a sensible default set of hot-keys; was reasonably extensible without being overly complex; and came packaged for my distribution (Ubuntu). I think I made the right choice! The hot-keys do take a little getting used to at first, but once you figure out the pattern it’s gravy. I have no problem bouncing around my desktop now and am enjoying the extra real-estate and speed! It’s just too good.

As I fart around with it more and get better acquainted with my new window manager, I’ll be sure to share the tips I pick up along the way. The problem I found with many of these amazing hidden gems is that they lack documentation and forums in a big way. Hopefully by spreading the good word, the community will eventually chip in and change that. Until then… go ahead productivity pioneers and see the light!


For Ubuntu users, installation of Ion is easy. Just find it in synaptic or run “*sudo apt-get install ion3*” and you’re done. To start using it, just log out and (if you’re using gdm, the default login screen) from the “Options” menu in the bottom-left corner of the screen, select “Choose Session…” From there you can select Ion and then log in as normal. You will be asked if you want to make Ion your default — I suggest opting for “No” if you’re just trying it out. You can always make it your default window manager later.

As an added bonus, check out the mouseless browsing plugin for Firefox. It’s a convenient way to browse without your mouse. Most of the time (there are still those inline WYSIWYG editors, flash, and other web silliness to contend with.