Good things

Good things

Windows 95

Most applications followed design guidelines or just used the default controls, giving a unified and simple UI that could be reasonably well controlled from the keyboard.

SerenityOS

A project with a much larger scope than Haven but with somewhat similar goals, to create a nice new environment. Gives proof that such a project can be written in few people, given proper experience.

ToaruOS

Similarly to SerenityOS, this proves that one can write an entire operating system from scratch. Somewhat sadly, it just replicates the Linux desktop without trying to make any fundamental changes whatsoever. Still, it makes for a very interesting data point.

Haiku

Pretty. Desktop-first. Just the window manager sucks, and C++ is no longer a reasonable choice for a high-level programming language, despite all the effort to improve it--it’s the foundations that are rotten.

VIM

Customizable modal text editor allowing for rather efficient editing. While the internals might not be so great, the user interface is hard to beat once you get used to it.

With vim-lsp it even shines as an IDE, which is a wonderful development.

Qt Creator

Has a very good VIM emulator (rare!), excellent code navigation on top of that, clean UI.

Primarily a C++ IDE, yet slowly the Language Server Protocol implementation makes it transcend into a general-purpose one.

Vimperator/Pentadactyl/qutebrowser

Vimperator/Pentadactyl created a new standard in web browser usability. The most important innovations being the addition of modality to the web browser and the "follow link" feature, which is what I feel all mouse-first UIs deserve.

Too bad it can no longer work in current versions of Firefox as they cut off all support for XUL addons. The good times are already behind us. I certainly enjoyed them.

qutebrowser went somewhat beyond in terms of how neat the integration of a VIM interface and a web browser engine can be, rebuilding the concept on top of Webkit, but to this day it lacks a normal AdBlock, and thus remains a toy.

SourceHut

Drew might be an opinionated asshole but that’s not necessarily a bad quality, especially if it helps with diversity. His creations are compatible with my values. Except that I hate Python. :)

WikiWikiWeb

An interesting knowledge base. Simple formatting, automatic links. I’ve borrowed the general concept for this very wiki (yes, technically you can send in pull requests).

It’s a shame that it’s been frozen in time.

AsciiDoc

I utterly despise Markdown for its choices, and I don’t want to suffer while writing:

  • you have to escape all underscores in words,

  • the link syntax is hard to remember,

  • emphasis is screwed-up entirely, asterisks are supposed to mean ‘bold’.

Granted, I can see some faults in AsciiDoc as well, notably with how hard it is to parse and process, but I haven’t found anything better yet, not to mention powerful, and standardisation seems to finally be on its way. One day I might create a processor for a slightly modified subset of it. Until then, libasciidoc is what I’ll be using for all markup, and I’m immensely thankful to its authors for their work.

Plan 9, Go

Pervasive simplicity. Sometimes it’s annoying (one could say ‘misplaced’) but overall you get the feeling you have the entire platform under your control.

Oberon OS

An exercise in vertical integration, going as deep down as the CPU. Also something completely different from what you can find today, exploring a new way of controlling the computer.

Smalltalk

The application is a live system, powered by a simple programming language. You can change anything you want, and see the results instantly. See also the Self programming language, for which my friend is trying to make an alternative implementation.