Why changing config files is a bad habit

Configuration files are a must in Linux, every program has its own configuration file which can be modified to better fit the user’s need. For example, vim has a .vimrc, tmux a .tmuxrc and even bash has its own .bashrc. Config files can be used to remap keys or change the way things look or work, and for a long time, I wanted to increase my skills in VimScript and config files, until I realized that it was a complete waste of time.

For starter, updating the keymap of any program is a terrible idea. Changing keymap make you learn a personal version of a program. Let’s say you remap escape in vim for alt, it means that if you get on the other computer without this config, you’ll not be as fast as you would be normally. I’m not saying that all configurations are bad, but changing the way that things used to work is not the best idea in the world. Also if for some reason someone has to work on your station, they won’t be able to work at all since they need to re-learn all new mapping and settings that you’ve setup.

When I first got into tmux, I wanted to remap all control so it would work the same way as I3Desktop with a key variation to avoid conflict. This was the most stupid thing I’ve ever thought because by doing this I would not have learned anything from tmux, I would have learned a completely different version of tmux which doesn’t exist anywhere but on my computer. The problem of config files is that they are making your computer way too personal, which makes you useless when you’re not on your own computer.

Finally, let’s say that learning tmux, vim or any other program key mapping is not really fun, but at least by learning the regular mapping, you get more polyvalent to any environment, and you’re not wasting any time at learning useless non-existent key map that you’ve setup in your config files. the lesson to remember from that is that config files are really cool, but it’s a bad idea to over use them.


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