I've come to the conclusion that the only user space software needed on a Linux machine is a browser and a terminal. Everything else is bloat.
I just discovered mutt, a fantastic email client. Well, technically, I didn't "just discover it", as I have played with it in the past, but never got far with it. You see, configuring mutt is a royal pain. On top of that, mutt is just an MUA (mail user agent), and does not provide an MRA (mail retrieval agent) or MSA (mail sending agent). So, not only do you need to install and configure mutt, but you also need to install fetchmail and sendmail or similar. This certainly isn't attractive to the average user.
On Helios now, it has become my messaging machine. It's running the following:
- Irssi: The only IRC client you'll ever need.
- Bitlbee: An IRC to IM gateway used for Jabber. Running as an extension in Irssi.
- Irssi-otr: An Off-The-Record plugin used for client-to-client encryption on any protocol.
- Mutt: The only mail client you'll ever need.
- Links2: Used in combination with mutt to dump HTML email to text, making HTML cruft readable
Now, that I have my email and instant messaging configured and running in a terminal, all I really need is a browser. I can execute any command from the terminal, so I don't need menus, and although I could use links, or some other text-based browser, using a GUI browser is needed for viewing images, video, sound, and other multimedia (this could be argued as to whether or not we need those things- I'm not going to entertain that argument).
So, from where I'm sitting, I don't need much on my computer, which makes me wonder why I'm running a full featured desktop like GNOME or KDE in the first place. It may be time to slim things back down to Openbox or Fluxbox. Screenshots attached for your pleasure.