Open Source Musings


(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.)

Fifteen or so years ago, I split my text editing time between both Emacs and Vim. That said, I was more of an Emacs guy. But while Emacs had an edge in my affections in those days, I knew (and still know) that Vim is no slouch.

So do other people even though who, like me, are all thumbs technically. Over the years, I've talked to a few new Linux users who wanted to use Vim but were a bit disappointed that it doesn't act like the text editors they've used on those other operating systems.

That disappointment changed to satisfaction when I introduced them to Cream, an add-on for Vim that makes it easier to use. Cream turned each of them into a regular Vim user. And, thanks to Cream, most of them still are to this day.

In a post that's bound to trigger a couple or three hard-nosed Vim purists, I'm taking you on a short tour of Cream and how it makes Vim easier to use.


You might remember a post I published in this space a while back about my adventures with Zorin OS. A throwaway comment in that post surprised me with the bit of attention that it garnered.

The comment? That I've never installed Linux in a dual boot setting. Ever. A few people got in touch asking me why. And, before you ask, those weren't snarky or accusatory comments. Which leads us into what you're reading at this moment.

So why have I never done a dual boot installation of Linux in all my years of using it? The answer is simple: I've never seen or had the need to do that.

When I started installing Linux on my computers (as opposed to when I bought laptops with Linux preinstalled on them), those computers usually ran Windows. Which I wanted to escape. So, I replaced Redmond's operating system with a better one. At least, one that was (and continues to be) better for me.

On the rare occasion that I needed to use a Windows application, I ran that application in a virtual machine or used CrossOver to run it. As time passed, so did any occasional need to run anything Windows on my computers.

On top of that, I've never had a need to dual boot between Linux distros. That's mainly because I'm not, and never have been, a distro hopper. I focus on using one Linux distribution and one Linux distribution only. For the most part, I'm loyal to that distro until I find a compelling reason or six to switch. Usually, there's a gap of years between those switches. So, I don't need to have, say, elementary OS and Arch Linux installed side-by-side on the same laptop. My inner geek doesn't need that much of a hug.

Maybe in my non-techie brain there's also a bit of a block about partitioning hard drives. I'm sure there's a corner of the lump of gray inside my head that worries about what could go wrong or whether or not dual booting will work. Yeah, I know ...

But in the end, I have no use case for dual booting. If I want to give a Linux distro a look, I'll run it using a bootable flash drive. Doing that is usually more than enough to get a good feel for that distribution and whether or not I want to use it.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #opinion

One of the growing cottage industries in the software world is note taking applications. Over the last few years, they've bloomed like a hundred flowers — on the desktop, on the web, and for mobile devices.

Many of those tools are over engineered, with a large number of moving parts and features that the personal knowledge management crowd has embraced and believe are essential. Many of us, though, don't need anything remotely that complex. We only need something basic, with which we can quickly jot down short (or not so short) thoughts, ideas, and the like.

Enter Iotas, which lies on the minimalist end of the note taking tool spectrum. It's a small, simple, and streamlined application for the GNOME desktop. While the developers state that:

It's fairly early days in development here, so please expect a few rough edges.

Iotas actually isn't too bad a tool at the moment, and it has a couple or three interesting features. Let's take a look at it.


I've never been a distro hopper. Since I first installed Linux on a Pentium 300 desktop in 1999, I've only mainlined perhaps four or five distributions. And always for the longer haul — when a Linux distribution gets plonked on to my hard drive, it usually stays there for years. There's only been one case when that didn't happen, but I don't like to talk about it much.

That said, I have test driven more than a handful of Linux distributions, either via a live CD or live USB, since early 2000s. A few have impressed me. One or two were frustrating. The others left me feeling a bit cold or just ambivalent.

But one distro I hadn't taken a close look at is Zorin OS. It's a distribution that I'd heard about more than once over the years, and usually in glowing terms. Until recently, though, Zorin OS was never strongly enough on my radar for me to give it a go.

In July, 2022 curiosity (for whatever reason) gripped me and I took an extended peek at Zorin OS using a live USB. I liked what I saw, and installed it on my spare laptop. I also decided to use that laptop and Zorin OS as my daily driver for several weeks.

Let's take a look at what happened.


(Note: This post was first published at and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.)

Correct spelling doesn’t seem to be very important to many people these days. There are, however, those of us for whom it is. Yes, I am one of those people.

While I’m not a spelling cop, misspelled words stick out when I encounter them. They hurt my eyes. They hurt my brain.

Any good text editor and, of course, any word processor packs a spelling checker. If you're working in plain text, you can go another route to check the spelling of your document: at the command line. How? With the help of a nifty utility called GNU Aspell (which I’ll be calling Aspell from here on in).

Aspell is fast, easy to use (yes, even for a command line tool!), and flexible. Let’s take a look at how to use it.


Despite what the why not just use Emacs/vim/VSCodium/whatever brigade may think and say, not everyone needs a powerful text editor packed with every feature. Including a sink and a death ray.

Some folks just need something simple, something basic with which to edit text. You can do that on the GNOME desktop using Text Edit, which is a stripped down version of the venerable GNOME editor Gedit.

While Text Editor has been around for a few years, I haven't used a GNOME-based text editor in that time so it's kind of new to me. To be honest, I liked using Gedit, so I was surprised when found this application in the elementary OS AppCenter. Just to take it for a spin, to see how well it works. Here's what I learned.

Note: I'm approaching Text Editor from the perspective of someone who writes, not as coder. I'm not in a position to judge how well or badly it works for development tasks. You have been warned.