The traditional GUI based applications for general purpose use are typically built for the laymen. But we ain't no laymen, are we? We are developers: productivity is the key to our sustainance.

Majority of the GUI based applications come with some extra features that we don't even care to use. The first step towards choosing such bloat-free app, in my opinion, is to do away with the GUI itself and focus on simple apps that only do what they are supposed to do.

Now I am not talking about doing everything in a shell. Some tasks like Web Browsing, Image and Video playing, editing and recording are better done using graphical applications.

Apart from that, pretty much everything can be done through the terminal.

Major advantages of using the terminal

  1. Lightweight interface: Most terminal apps either take input from the argument variables or provide Ncurses base TUI to play with. Thses are way lighter on the RAM than traditional GUI frameworks like QT or GTK.
  2. No mouse involved: Terminal apps rely solely on the keyboard for input. So the time wasted to find an option or menu by clicking is reduced. Most apps come with man-pages to help you if you get stuck.
  3. Low dependency: These app rely on very few dependencies. Hence the download size is quite low. Apps can work standalone.

Some terminal apps you SHOULD use

Let me introduce some cool terminal apps that easily win over their GUI counterparts.


For most people, Vim is an obscure text editor. But for Vim users, it's a way of life. I am writing this article in Vim. The learning curve is steep. But once you get used to it, it takes over your mind.

Vi comes installed in almost all Linux distros. Vim is an improved version of Vi. It's highly configurable through the .vimrc. You can even install themes and plugins to add on to your experience.

Vim is a modal text editor. Meaning: when it opens files, it is meant for reading and minor editing (Normal mode). You switch to Insert mode to type text. There are other modes, eg Visual mode for selection, Visual (Block) mode for block selection and editing etc.


It is a terminal based File Manager. It's extremely fast and configurable.

The best thing about ranger is its ability to do bulk operations on files. For example, bulk rename, bulk delete etc.

And the second best thing is that it supports Vim keybindings. :-)


Cmus is a terminal music player. It too uses Vim-like keybindings.

It is meant for blazing fast processing of music data spanning many GBs. Even being a terminal app, it integrates with the GNOME taskbar very well.


It is a Terminal utility for the NetworkManager service.

If you are using a minimal Window manager, in my opinion, nmtui is far better tool to configure connections than the nm-applet.


It is the sound management utility provided by ALSA. It is extremely intuitive and easy to use.

Ending Notes

I am slowly discovering this world of free and open source utilities. Hence the list is quite short here. But I intend to add more as I use.

Of particular mention, is the Suckless project, that aims at making bloat-free software. I did not include their products as I have not used them.

This post is heavily inspired by DistroTube and Luke Smith. Do check out their YouTube channels.