System Crafting

January 20, 2021

I’ve been following a newish youtube channel for the last couple of months which mostly started with Emacs from scratch videos, but now looks to be evolving towards a term they coined as system crafting. I recommend the channel to anyone looking to learn more about Emacs or system crafting.

System crafting is basically the practice of tailoring your computer to be enjoyable and effecient to use.

In some ways it reminds me of r/battlestations or r/unixporn. It’s a hobby I’ve had ever since I discovered FOSS or various Linux distros–probably 20 years ago. Back then, there wasn’t anything like Ubuntu that just gave you a desktop out of the box. Instead, you would instead spend time trying to build a linux kernel that had all the right drivers, get a working XF86Config (xorg.conf), choose a window manager, choose a terminal app, etc. Every step of the way you got to choose what piece of software you were going to use and then you spent a decent amount of time setting it up the way you wanted. The only thing I can think of being similar in the Windows world would be skinning winamp or download some custom theme (WindowBlinds?). But Windows and MacOS never really gave you the same level of tinker-ability.

But this blog entry isn’t just about creating a custom nix environment, just like the youtube channel at the top hasn’t really discussed system crafting much yet. It’s about Emacs, the extensible, self-documenting text editor that comes about the same as your mid-2000s Linux distro–like a bunch of components that need to be tailored together before you have an excellent lisp machine. Unforunately most people don’t have enough time or patience to build their own shell or text editor, but if they do, you can spend a lifetime modifying emacs through its config file.