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I was wondering if a distro exists that's keyboard-only friendly. Not terminal only, just kind of minimalist and doesn't use a mouse.

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    Raspbian Lite??? – Dougie Nov 3 '19 at 20:14
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I don't believe that you will find a complete distribution only using the keyboard. There are to much applications that must all follow this condition. But you may consider to use at least a window manager that only uses the keyboard. You will find three of them in the default Raspbian repository. They are xmonad made with Haskel, stumpwm made with Common Lisp and ratpoison. For more details just look at

rpi ~$ apt show xmonad ratpoison stumpwm
  • Thanks indigo. I might check those out. – Bikesuckle Nov 4 '19 at 3:20
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The default GUI desktop environment (DE) used in Raspbian, as is the case with all normative GNU/Linux distros, can be replaced with any other DE, and in general they're all available in all distros although there might be some configuration differences (eg., the DE in Raspbian is a customized configuration of LXDE, so using LXDE with Ubuntu will be superficially different). Some of them are probably a bit hefty memory wise to be much fun on most models of Pi, of course.

That said, the use cases for this (mostly: "My mouse broke" and "lost my mouse") seem pretty slim, so there is unlikely to be a project dedicated to this end. If you really, absolutely need to do it, you could look into accessibility and configuration options that might make this workable (eg., using hotkeys to accomplish what a mouse would otherwise be needed for).

See here for an introduction to the distinction between desktop environment and window manager. Stand-alone window managers (ie., those which provide a workable desktop without a DE) are probably your best bet as they tend to be less elaborate and highly configurable; openbox and fvwm are examples (Ingo's answer has some others).

However, it's going to be tedious to configure, especially if you don't have a mouse to use while adapting things, and take a bit of researching DEs/WMs, so if "got a mouse" is any kind of option, you might save yourself a lot of time and hassle.

Keep in mind that GUI applications are usually developed using libraries that are WM/DE agnostic, meaning finding or configuring the WM/DE to not require a mouse won't make any difference to the apps themselves.

  • Thanks. Too late though. You were half right, I needed a mouse. I also didn't want one. – Bikesuckle Nov 4 '19 at 3:25
  • Also those look perfect. I figure mice are kind of getting phased out in favor of touch pads and screens. What I had in mind and imagined was something like a cross between android and the menu based homescreens you see with consoles and smart TVs. Those window managers aren't too far off. Thanks again guys. – Bikesuckle Nov 4 '19 at 3:37
  • Well, a touchpad is functionally a mouse, ignoring gestural stuff. A touchscreen is more or less too, or can be (eg., if there's no touchscreen functionality build into the DE and you have a touchscreen, it's a second mouse pointer and tap/double tap serve as buttons). While I suppose everything gets phased out eventually, I wouldn't hold your breath on the mouse thing: As someone who works on a computer all day (as in, not with one on my desk, but literally typing), you will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. There's just no way replacing it with touchscreens would make life better. – goldilocks Nov 4 '19 at 14:57

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