Talk:Minimalism (computing)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Computing  
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Computing, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of computers, computing, and information technology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.


I believe it might be bad form to define something by what it is not, even minimalism. I should investigate the nature of definitions. In addition, my definition is probably imperfect because I don't know the standard view; I am no expert. My definition's knowledge base isn't even strong enough to be attacked on the grounds of original research. It is simply an attempt to use the right words to describe what I *feel* computing minimalism is. I have done no research to confirm it, and even in this case, it would not be enough. Someone who is adequately informed of the general landscape of computing minimalism should examine the current definition and tweak it appropriately. ( 01:43, 18 July 2007 (UTC))


We should be making some sort of comment on why the minimalist case is preferable than the standard one. As is stands right now, the section is basically describing the images, which any user can do for himself. We should elaborate on why we chose this picture, or possibly why the focus of the case allows it to better perform its function. Also, I don't really know why cases have been singled out as the only example of minimalist hardware. There should probably be more diversity to properly convey the point. What is the article's point anyway? I have tried to edit the grammar and focus the article a little, but if you don't like my edits feel free to change them. It will help us if we all try and reason out our changes, and I will attempt to do the same. I changed the first line mainly because of the grammar. ( 09:21, 16 July 2007 (UTC))


I'm confused - should this be classified as an anti-pattern? I thought anti-patterns conote something negative or counter-productive. --harburg 2005-09-25 20:55:35 UTC

I agree, and I edited to remove the cat. -- 00:16, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I've replaced it with the category that should've been there in the first place. --Maru (talk) Contribs 05:57, 16 November 2005 (UTC)


Umm... you chose mozilla as an example in a computing minimalist screenshot? Will someone please fix that? --Ctachme 04:55, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

I second this. The Fluxbox screenshot is beyond horrible. For a truly minimalist UI, see
I agree. The 2nd screenshot is all, but minimalist.
Pfft. wmii minimalistic? Don't make me laugh. I've posted a true minimalistic screenshot. --maru (talk) contribs 22:49, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
I finally found my ideal desktop. 1024x768 blue pixels. At last!
Yeah, Mozilla is not a Minimalistic Browser, Mozilla Firefox is closer to be minimalistic, but it is't, :I think that a real minimallistic browser for X Windows System is BrowseX. Check the screenshot: LuiSoN

please consider adding minimalistic websites category, i.e. : "minimal guide to everything"

No spam in the discussion, please.

Beginners appreciate loads of features?[edit]

"Computing minimalism is usually endorsed by computer literates rather than beginners, since beginners appreciate the easy to use, feature rich environments that are presented to them (usually by default)"

As far as I am aware, the more that is presented to a beginner, the more difficulty they have. They are overwhelmed by options. I'm not sure whether to change it or not. --wht.rbt 14:48, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

It depends on what minimalism is, if it is shutting down deamons etc, then it is just computer literates who care about that, if it is having an uncluttered interface, and less to poke, then beginners benefit and like that. I reckon you should change it, it doesn't really have an effect on the article as it is. Craighennessey 00:11, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Infact, after taking another look at this article it seems that it is all opinion, and made up at that? I personally used to find FVWM better, and now I like KDE, meaning that as a beginner I liked the simpler things. When we are presented with choices, and in the virtual world of computing we are, everybody is different, so why have an article on it at all? Could it not be "differing views on computer minimalism" or something? Craighennessey 00:18, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Yes. The article is bloatware and the examples are all overcrowded. Take the hatchet to it, someone, it was written by maximalists.

ime it's the intermediate-level self-termed 'power users' who tend to like the baroque interfaces with lots going on —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Lightweight markup languages?[edit]

Lightweight markup languages?

Three screenshots[edit]

I think those constitute original research. - Sikon 16:37, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

You are entitled to hold your own opinion, of course, but the minimalist screenshots are all of applications that have been labelled minimalist. I don't see the OR there, and you may be interpreting OR overly broadly there. It originated as an anti-crank physics defense, not as a method to make us avoid stating the obvious unless we track down citations for each and every word in the article. --Gwern (contribs) 16:52, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
The Windows screenshot seems quite contrived, nobody in their right mind has a screen that looks like that. Why not show an example where someone is doing actual work, as in the other two? --CliffC 02:06, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Performance of the user[edit]

This phrase seems to be used in quite a far stretched context - surely it should be performance of the computer, and productivity of the user? It just doesn't seem to make sense... Craighennessey 00:09, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Use of the word Shell[edit]

This article's use of the word shell is quite strange to me. Isn't the proper word Windowmanager? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:03, 12 November 2006

i think the word shell is being used to differentiate from the heavier 'environments' mentioned in the previous sentence. strictly speaking, fluxbox and icewm aren't window manager either since they have taskbars, menus &c —Preceding unsigned comment added by A plague of rainbows (talkcontribs) 16:28, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Too much focus on desktop computers[edit]

Computing minimalism has uses in computing niche devices. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Getonyourfeet (talkcontribs) 22:48, 15 February 2007 (UTC).

Screenshots of copyrighted software[edit]

I've removed the screenshot of Windows XP. Per Wikipedia's Wikipedia:Fair use policy, we cannot use a copyrighted image under fair-use terms if a free alternative is available. Given that there are Free images available which depict a non-minimalist user interface (KDE for example), there is no justification to use a Windows screenshot. -/- Warren 05:22, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

Terrible writing[edit]

The following text needs to be rewritten, it's very confusing:

"However, the drive to manufacturing minimal devices in addition to web services (for example web-based email taking over for e-mail clients), wanting to make use of their own technology without the need to purchase a license to use if required, may lead to a proliferation of products attempting to carve a niche in the marketplace creating a user lock-in.[1][2]" User:Carson Reynolds —Preceding comment was added at 01:14, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

This page needs SERIOUS cleanup ASAP - I don't think I've ever seen a worse Wiki page that has been allowed to exist for as long as this one. ravs 15:40, 26 April, 2007 (AEST)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the Edit this page link at the top. The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes — they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). --CliffC 02:04, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

10mb is A LOT![edit]

Since when did Windows users consider Windows Explorer to be bloated? The article cites its massive TEN MEGABYTES of memory use. Is this a joke?

I don't know. I checked task manager and found it out to be 26,000 KB, meaning 26 MB (if my calculations are right, which is debatable). If this is right, then Firefox is using up 80-some mBs. It's probably better to have an expert deal with it so I'm going to ask for a citation.
Shoot, wrong type of Windows Explorer. It still seems like around 20-some MBs. It does seem like a lot.... but I have 1 GB so I'm not worried.
Bah I have to be wrong. Anyways, the task manager says that it's using 26,000 K's of memory. It doesn't say what kind. -- 11:25, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Considering a file manager's nominal function - to perform a few, well-defined operations on folders/files, 10MB IS a lot. —Preceding unsigned comment added by A plague of rainbows (talkcontribs) 21:28, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Explorer for Windows XP Pro SP2, uses 10.76MB
FileManager from Windows 3.1 on XP uses 24k!

Yeah... Cleanup Needed[edit]

I looked at this and I saw that it claimed that keyboards and mice are being replaced by touchpads (and it sounds as if the author probably thinks speech recognition is also replacing those). Another thing, the "standard PC" next to the minimalist is a gaming PC and the example of a "typical desktop computer" looks like something out of a museum. Not to mention that it doesn't capitalize Microdrives despite the fact that it's a brand name and not a genericized trademark as its own article says within the first few sentences. I changed some of it, but this honestly looks like something written by a Middle School student. -- 11:15, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

What is the point of all these images?[edit]

The comparative screenshots are good, but the comparison of the mac mini and a gaming computer is just silly. And what is the point of the gallery-like section? --Vince | Talk 08:25, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move to Minimalism (computing) --Lox (t,c) 10:02, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

should this be moved/renamed to minimalism in computing or something? nothing is being computed here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by A plague of rainbows (talkcontribs) 16:52, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Theming section[edit]

how is theming representative of minimalism? it's rather the opposite i'd say. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:04, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Minimalist themes in relevance to computing is a valid topic. The blending of Minimalism art with combination software are tied together. Yeah it goes outside the computational and resources of computing however the name of the article "Computing minimalism" is uncommonly used and misleading but refer generally in a wider scope to the terms "minimal" and "minimalist" and its users who label themselves just minimalist, computer users. Given window managers such as Litestep with their theming framework and Blackbox descendants and siblings and even Firefox, users have the option of predefined prepackaged theme/style of product. Sites like and deviantART had sections which showcased various minimalist artwork for wallpaper and themes for programs. The problem is that there is no formal reviews on this aspect or it is hard to obtain text of this topic so it gets swept under the rug for the notable topic (minimalist theming). Some minimalist themes are monochromatic and have an simple subject as the focal point. Blackbox has minimalist theming that most themes only change the color of the interface. File:Fluxbox-dev.png is an example of minimalist theming while the default Luna (theme) is not. - 6etonyourfeet (talk?) 20:33, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
The windows classic theme is more minimalist than the luna theme. - 6etonyourfeet (talk?) 20:38, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
i see your point, and i've nothing against a theming section in the article (as long as it has actual content), but i disagree. adding elements to a piece of software for the sake of visual presentation is not minimalism - how could it be? it can be an imitation of minimalism, but that's not the same thing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:50, 18 December 2007 (UTC)


someone more familiar with the issues needs to verify the claims about dillo and GTK2 made in the programming section. i followed the link in the citation, for example, and came across this quote "This is a dillo bug and has nothing to do with GTK+. (Or alternatively dillo is misusing GTK+ badly" at which would seem to place at least part of the onus on dillo. —Preceding unsigned comment added by A plague of rainbows (talkcontribs) 20:57, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

NEdit, time, and the definition of bloat[edit]

In the "Notable minimalistic software" section, it mentions NEdit as an example of minimalistic software. Although its fast loading time and efficient use of redraws definitely make it minimalist today, it was created in 1991, and based on its age (first release was 1991), it could arguably be considered very bloated. It has a wide variety of sundry features, and its size (on my Linux installation) is 1.1MB (compared to 68 kilobytes for Microsoft Notepad on Windows XP). Additionally, it was actually a mainstream text editor (correct me if I'm wrong) in the 1990s; now it has been superseded by Kate, gedit, etc. which take longer to load and lack many features NEdit provides. If someone were to write a program with the same feature set and size as Nedit today, it would definitely be minimalist; however, running the current Nedit on a 1994 computer results in quite a few seconds (maybe 5 seconds) of wait.

Nonetheless, I would argue that NEdit is one of the best text editors available on Linux as far as the power/bloat ratio is concerned. However, it is an excellent example of how software that once seemed bloated is now considered minimalist. Moreover, it may even serve as a token in understanding why modern software continues to have very noticeable bloat: Why does software A suffer from bloat on a 2003 computer when Nedit's bloat is hardly a problem on the same computer? What attributes make software A substantially different than NEdit?

I'm not asking to consider the removal of NEdit from the "Notable minimalistic software" list, as it may be useful to someone looking for a minimalistic text editor. I am merely discussing how NEdit is an example of a bloated program that time has turned into a minimalist program.

Joeyadams (talk) 05:59, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


Jobs has historically favored a minimalist approach to hardware and software design, as evidenced by the products of NeXT and the products Apple introduced after his return in December, 1996 such as the iMac and Mac OS X.
IMO, Apple has never been minimalist or even tried to be. They've been reasonable in not bloating their products alright; their main point is that they've always attempted to make easy-to-use appliances, and that usually implies simplifying down to a few knobs instead of a cockpit full of dials and gauges and switches and levers.
Now, i can see the jump made to minimalism from the appliance approach, but if you consider the electronic kiosk mentioned just before, you're talking about a machine dedicated to one mission, whereas an Apple computer has, even though simple to use, always attempted to answer to a multitude of needs: processing of text, file, multimedia, etc.
So, the presence in this article of the quoted sentence above offends me. NeXT was minimalist? Mac OS X minimalist? WTF? This is nuts! NeXT was the BMW for multimedia of its time, so, if you consider owning a BMW frugality, then you've got a hell of a lot of explaining to do to Third World nations inhabitants. (i admire OS X BTW, but it's definitely not within my projects of minimalist nature, and Heaven knows i've been at it for years.)
Bah, i guess some might consider having a Bang & Olufsen entertainment system minimalist..., that opens a whole philosophical debate then.
--Jerome Potts (talk) 05:47, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Required Buzzwords[edit]

I fail to locate the string "frugal" in the article. Good catch, eh? And here's another missing: "footprint". Feel free to add to the list if you come up with any, and eventually let's add'em to the content. “God bless”.
And another: "text-only" (well, i just now saw "text based"). Actually, the article should probably state quite clearly that, inherently, text-based apps are attractive to "minimalists". Pbbly where it mentions older apps as now seen as "belonging".
--Jerome Potts (talk) 06:50, 15 March 2008 (UTC)


Perhaps should be mentioned the preference of some designers for native code over, say, Java; C over C++ (hence, GTK over Qt, ha!); compiled over interpreted. In short, performance-oriented code. In practice, coders complain to not have enough time to write everything in C, even though they recognize the value of it.
--Jerome Potts (talk) 07:02, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Smalltalk a minimalist programming language? It's object-oriented and requires runtime libraries. --Jerome Potts (talk) 07:30, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

as well as prolog, Forth, and BASIC. (talk) 08:31, 14 October 2008 (UTC)--


the xmonad evangelism is really getting tiresome. i'm not learning haskell. —Preceding unsigned comment added by A plague of rainbows (talkcontribs) 14:19, 21 March 2008 (UTC)


It seems contradictory to claim that the "Macintosh 128k was a ... example of minimalism. With its ... its lack of ... expansion slots", and also claim that "the S-100 passive backplane design is another form of minimalist thinking." How can "no expansion slots" and "lots of expansion slots" *both* be examples of minimalism? -- (talk) 18:17, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Because the S-100 passive backplane did not designate that a lot of boards needed to be installed to make a viable system. One can work such systems with only a CPU board, a RAM board, and an IO board. ( i.e. only 3 slots out of 8 ), with a minimal of interconnects. Further made minimal by CPU boards that had Ram expansion on them. ( Bringing the board count down to two ). It was a platform for minimalism.
The Macintosh 128k, was minimalist in its design of a computer in a bag, like its famous introduction.
Both are examples of minimalism from very diffrent eras. (talk) 08:30, 14 October 2008 (UTC)--

Python minimalist?[edit]

I don't really think most would consider Python on the whole to be a minimalist programming language. Certainly, it's supposed to be less bloated than Perl, but so is PHP and few would consider PHP minimalist. TinyPy would be more what I'd consider minimalist by design: maybe replace the mention of Python as a whole with its TinyPy dialect? Nightwatchrespond 22:19, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

False claims about Amiga[edit]

Article: "Some, such as displaying multiple windows at different color depths and resolutions on the same physical screen, have yet to be duplicated at all."


The UNIX-HATERS Handbook, pp. 136-138, goes on at length about how the ability of X on an HP 9000/835 (in April 1991) to handle multiple bit-depths was such a pain to use. The XCreateWindow takes a "depth" argument. The xwininfo(1) command will tell you the depth of a selected window.

Refrence: [1]

It's possible the Amiga did this first, by a couple years -- I'm not sure of the timeline here -- but it certainly wasn't the only platform to ever have done this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:00, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

The HP 9000/835 Top Gun machine from 1987, could indeed handle multiple bitdepth images on the screen at the same time, but did it with a trick of just turning the unused bit-planes black. It's going to be a royal pain in trying to locate the graphics subsystem implementors manual for it. but I am going to try.
Refrence: [2]
The Amiga 1000, from 1985 did this also with a trick. It could put several diffrent bit-plane images on the screen, BUT not on the same raster lines. i.e. You could have both a HAM, (hold-and-modify) image (4096 colors) on the screen with an indexed color image, but they could not be side by side! It did this with the dedicated graphics hardware and blitter chip. Beat them by 2 years.
The IBM PGA adapter could also do this, but only with the same trick as the HP9000/835.
Refrence: [cant seem to relocate it yet...]
Your milage may vary...
This is one increadible article. Refrences? Woa. A lot of very, VERY sophisticated ideas/brilliance went into this article. I am very impressed... (talk) 09:42, 14 October 2008 (UTC)--
I did see another compter c.1985 that could also do this, I believe called Artist PaintBox which later bacame a video retouching machine.

Programming languages[edit]

This whole article is basically cack, but the "minimalist programming languages" crap was particularly galling. I removed every language from the list except Forth and Scheme. Forth is a simple concept which is easy enough to implement that many people create their own Forths while simply engaged in (advanced) study of the Forth language or concept. By comparison, practically no one would try to implement a C compiler while learning C.

The Scheme language has a tiny standard and is specifically designed with "minimalism" in mind.

The others don't satisfy any definition of minimalism, because they require large runtime libraries (e.g. Smalltalk), must implement large standards (Common Lisp, C), or are Turing tarpits (Brainfuck). Indeed, with the list of languages prior to my revision, it would be difficult to justify the exclusion of any language.

Lua or Io *might* be so-called "minimalist" languages under some definition, but really they're just designed with embedded systems in mind and therefore have small interpreters.

The paragraph about "Hello World" was irrelevant, as this program doesn't do anything useful, and its use as a "teaching tool" usually comprises page 1 of the textbook, serving to verify that the compiler and runtime are working correctly before the user proceeds to actually study the language. (talk) 22:44, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Other examples[edit]

Other examples of minimalism in computing include minimalism in artificial intelligence (such as Subsumption_architecture) and minimalism in chess programming. I'd propose adding these as new sections to this article. Oldsalo (talk) 13:14, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Relation to Demoscene ?[edit]

Is the Demoscene a form of minimalism, since it can be seen as making the most of the hardware, or is it the opposite? I.e. are there really different types of minimalism, which this article doesn't distinguish well between? A lot of software with minimalist interfaces are actually quite bloated in their code, and the opposite situation also exists, e.g. uTorrent. (talk) 01:30, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Regarding the 'Incomplete' template[edit]

Might as well mark the article as a stub. Right now, it consists of seven assorted examples of minimalism in UI and software design, without any systematic approach. The former of those subjects alone could constitute a not-so-small book; the latter—an essay, at the least. kAtremer (talk) 22:13, 29 March 2014 (UTC)


Is anyone else bothered by the fact that the screenshot of this article shows an instance of GNU Emacs? As far as editor scope and distribution sizes go, it is a bit on the clunky side. (talk) 08:04, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

As far as IDEs go, it is minimal

Original research[edit]

I have the feeling that this article as a whole is a violation of WP:SYN. It cites a lot of primary sources to provide examples, but no sources that define/review the notion of minimalism in a systematic way. QVVERTYVS (hm?) 21:55, 3 June 2015 (UTC)