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Less Retarded Software

Less retarded software (LRS) is a specific kind of software aiming to be a truly good technology maximally benefiting and respecting its users, following the philosophy of extreme minimalism (Unix philosophy, suckless, KISS), anarcho pacifism and freedom. The term was invented by drummyfish.


The definition here is not strict but rather fuzzy, it is in a form of ideas, style and common practices that together help us subjectively identify software as less retarded.

Software is less retarded if it adheres, to a high-degree (not necessarily fully), to the following principles:


LRS exists for a number of reasons, one of the main ones is that we simply need better technology -- not better as in better performance but better in terms of design and ethics. Technology has to make us more free, not the other way around. Technology has to be a tool that serves us, not a device for our abuse. We believe mainstream tech poses a serious, even existential threat for our civilization. We don't think we can prevent collapse or a dystopian scenario on our own, or even if these can be prevented at all, but we can help nudge the technology in a better direction, we can inspire others and perhaps make the future a little brighter, even if it's destined to be dark. Even if future seems hopeless, what better can we do than try our best to make it not so?

There are other reason for LRS as well, for example it can be very satisfying and can bring back joy of programming that's been lost in the modern toxic environment of the mainstream. Minimalist programming is pleasant on its own, and in many things we do we can really achieve something great because not many people are exploring this way of tech. For example there are nowadays very few programs or nice artworks that are completely public domain, which is pretty sad, but it's also an opportunity: you can be the first human to create a completely public domain software of certain kind. Software of all kind has already been written, but you can be the first one who creates a truly good version of such software so that it can e.g. be run on embedded devices. If you create something good that's public domain, you may even make some capitalist go out of business or at least lose a lot of money if he's been offering the same thing for money. You free people. That's a pretty nice feeling.

{ Here and there I get a nice email from someone who likes something I've created, someone who just needed a simple thing and found that I've made it, that alone is worth the effort I think. ~drummyfish. }


LRS is connected to pretty specific political beliefs, but it's not a requirement to share those beliefs to create LRS or be part of its community. You may believe in whatever you want, as long as you create or support LRS, you are part of this. We just think that it doesn't make logical sense to support LRS and not the politics that justifies it and from which it is derived. This is up to your own reasoning though.

With that said, the politics behind LRS is anarcho pacifist communism, but NOT pseudoleftism (i.e. we do not support political correctness, COCs, cancel culture, Marxism-Leninism etc.). We do NOT have any leaders or heroes; people are imperfect and giving some more power, louder voices or greater influence creates hierarchy and goes against anarchism, therefore we only follow ideas. We aim for true social (not necessarily physical) equality of everyone, our technology helps everyone equally. We reject anti-equality means such as violence, bullying, censorship, governments and capitalism. We support things such as universal basic income and slow movement.

We love all living beings, even those we disagree with and whom we dislike.

Specific Software

The "official" LRS programs and libraries have so far been solely developed by drummyfish, the "founder" of LRS. These include:

Apart from this software a lot of other software developed by other people and groups can be considered LRS, at least to a high degree (there is usually some minor inferiority e.g. in licensing). Especially suckless software mostly fits the LRS criteria. The following programs and libraries can be considered LRS at least to some degree:

Other potentially LRS software to check out may include TinyGL, scc, uClibc, miniz, nuklear, dmenu, sbase, sic, tabbed, svkbd, busybox and others.

It is also possible to talk about LRS data formats, standards, designs and concepts as such etc. These might include:

Other technology than software may also be aligned with LRS principles, e.g.:

All content available under CC0 1.0 (public domain). Send comments and corrections to drummyfish at disroot dot org.