Moving backwards to improve has an interesting article about sticking to base applications. It’s all about making the programs that come in the base system install work instead of needing to install third-party packages to get a comfortable work environment.

It’s OpenBSD specific, but it is generally applicable to any system with a base set of included tools, which generally means all BSDs. The comments have some interesting parts, too, like using a source control system to synchronize dotfiles across multiple systems. (just having one consistent .vimrc would make me happy)