Goodbye, Ricing.
  • 21st May 2024 •
  •  4 min read
  •  • Tags: 
  • misc
  • linux
  • Last updated on 21st May 2024

I think everyone who's gone down the rabbit-hole of daily-driving a Linux distro has been there. You look at your desktop and just kinda get this urge to tinker around a little bit. Maybe it's just this internal desire to mess around with technology or you just don't like how some aspects of your system look. Ricing describes the act of customizing a variety of aspects of your computing environment and for some reason, it's a fun way to spend an afternoon. For me personally, I'm done with it though.

GIF of an anime character resting her head on her arms in front of a computer

I got really into ricing my Linux setups back around 2018. Before that I was constantly switching between Linux with XFCE or KDE, Windows and Macintosh. It began with me stumbling across someone posting an image of their Debian desktop that used the i3 window manager. I got curious and decided it wouldn't hurt to actually try something new for once. One Lady Gaga CD later, I had a rudimentary, but very functionally efficient i3 setup on my laptop. And for a while that was it. I ended up just slightly tweaking shortcuts, installing some utilities that made some actions a bit easier and swapping the colour palette every time I got a new wallpaper over the following 6 months. Then I stumbled across dwm (the dynamic window manager) by the suckless e.V. and for some reason, it really clicked with me. God knows how many hours I spent after that just trying out patches, making miniscule changes to my config, recompiling, quitting everything to relaunch the window manager and so on. Even though people like to clown on them, I really think that the mentality of very minimal software that doesn't do more than it says on the box is great. It really made me appreciate the small features in a window manager much more. About 3 months in, I somehow fucked my system up pretty bad, which meant I had to reinstall everything. Instead of just trying to install everything again, I rebounded so hard that I just couldn't be arsed and ended up running Gnome for a while. Gnome just felt like the antonym to the freedom of customisation I felt during my stint with i3 and subsequently dwm. I then ended up going back to KDE for a bit, which felt really homely going back to something familiar, but after that I just kinda used Windows for a bit, since I wanted to play some R6:Siege and Valorant. I really feel like that time gave me some retrospective about my ricing journey though, since afterwards I was happy with just running one of the common DEs (KDE and Gnome). I still use KDE on my desktop today, but do a lot of my freelance work and projects on my MacBook. It suffices to do most things I like to do and has quite nice speakers.

So what was the point of all of this info-dumping? Well, I wanted to demonstrate that I've been at doing this for a while, but nowadays, with university, my day-job, freelance work and side-projects, I just don't have as much time as I used to have back when I was still in school. Looking back I realise that ricing is a nice way to pass the time while doing something that can help you improve your efficiency. And that's also the danger of it, at some point, you spend more time customising than actually using the system. The peak of customisation for me these days, is changing the theme in my neovim config to switch to light mode during the day. If you enjoy ricing your system, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're able to enjoy it, but just be aware that there is an incentive to take a step back and evaluate whether or not you might already be fine with your system. You might have a reason to switch things up, and that's totally fine, but change for the sake of changing things is just not something worth persuing in my opinion.

Maybe this entire post is just an excuse for me to rant about not having as much free time anymore, and yeah that might be the case. I just kinda felt like writing about this, so yeah, cya.