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Topics - PackRat

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General Support / Font werror when starting xclock and other x-apps.
« on: March 20, 2014, 01:46:06 PM »
Font error -

Xcalc and xclock were suddenly slow to start so I started them from a terminal. Anyone seen this font error before and have a quick fix:

I tried updating the font cache but that didn't seem to work.

This is actually my slackel box, so an update to a slackware package may have just broke something.

WM Designs and Discussions / icewm window manager
« on: March 19, 2014, 03:10:15 PM »
As part of my exploration into light weight window managers with a default Windows user interface, I also took a look at icewm - Version 1.3.7 is in the repos; I downloaded 1.3.8 from their site and built from source. There is also a theme package in the repos (I dodn't bother with it) and a package named icewm-lite - don't know why it's "lite". If installing from the repos, you may get a /usr/share/xsessions/icewm.desktop file; I had to make my own.

Once everything is installed and you log in for the first time, you're greeted with a fully functional Win95 looking desktop. The default configuration files ( ) are located in /usr/local/share/icewm; if you want to change anything, copy the contents of that directory to $HOME/.icewm and fire up your favorite text editor.

The main configuration file is the preferences file. If you have configured fvwm before, the syntax of this file will look very familiar - I get the feeling that icewm is a fork of fvwm written in C. If you have never configured fvwm before, this file will look a bit intimidating; but it's well commented and the configuration options are pretty self-explanatory. Most of the configuration is a matter of uncomenting the desired option and answering yes or no (0 or 1). The default key bindings and theme are also in this file.

The other configuration files to be concerned with are keys (key bindings), menu (the default menu), and toolbar (launcher buttons for the taskbar). All are pretty straight forward to edit, and the IceWm Manual page on the home page is well documented - however, the FAQ page on that site looks to be a little depricated. For some reaason, icewm did not install a man page (or installed to some odd location) - hopefully, if you install from the repos there is a man page as well.

In addition to the main icewm (and icewm-session) programs, there is icewmtray - a system tray; and icewmbg for setting the background on the desktop and provide some transparency support. Both those apps need to be started before icewm in order to work - my starticewm file:

Code: [Select]

xset s off &
xset b 33 &
xsetroot -solid "#140C0B"
xmodmap "$HOME/.Xmodmap"
xrdb -l "$HOME/.Xresources"
urxvtd -q -o -f &
(sleep 2s && icewmbg) &
(sleep 2s && icewmtray) &
(sleep 2s && nitrogen --restore) &
(sleep 2s && wicd-gtk --tray) &
(sleep 2s && "$HOME/bin/") &

# And last but not least we start the window manager.
# Because it is the last app you have to run it with ''exec'' before it.

exec icewm-session

Not sure what the difference is if you go with icewm or icewm-session - both worked fine so I didn't search for an explanation.

Edit - found it in the icewm FAQ - if icewm-session is used, then icewm will use a startup file when you log in. Create the file "startup" in $HOME/.icewm and edit it like you would the openbox autostart file. Remember to make it executable.

There are a bunch of themes for icewm on - simply download one to $HOME/.icewm/themes and extract the contents. The icewm menu auto updates so the new theme will appear in the theme entry. The default theme defined in the preferenes file is color based; the included themes and thmes on are pixmap based. If you have good skills with gimp, you can make a pretty decent theme; otherwise you're kind of stuck with a retro Win95/98 or Fvwm look. The home page for icewm has a detailed page explaining how to create a theme, and each theme has a default.theme file that can be edited to tweak any contributed theme you decide to go with.

The boxy fvwm look is fine with me, but one thing I didn't like is that the size, padding, and relief of the taskbar is hard coded - a lot of the pixmap themes appear to be using gradients to hide this little annoyance. The height of the taskbar is, in part, determined by the width of the pixmaps used and setting the IconSize options in the preference file.

IceWm is pretty light on resources - comparable to jwm, fluxbox, fvwm, and has it's own taskbar, toolbar (launchers), systemtray, clock, and a few taskbar plugins to monitor memory usage, cpu usage, battery, and network.  If you don't want to go that route, icewm plays pretty well with tint2 and conky; however, the internal logout command for icewm treats tint2 and conky as open windows and prompts you to save their contents before exiting. You can work around this by making a key binding and menu entry for the vsido-exit command.

You can also edit the preferences file and change -

Code: [Select]
#  Command to start logout
# LogoutCommand=""


#  Command to start logout

but that work around still shows a prompt asking if you want to exit before running vsido-exit.

So, even though icewm is light on resources,  fully functional on it's own, and fairly straight forward to set up, after going through all the steps to get it configured the way I wanted, my personal preference is just go with jwm, or fvwm to get a Windows-like user interface.

Icewm ,      fluxbox and fvwm for comparison -



WM Designs and Discussions / jwm window manager
« on: March 16, 2014, 09:30:37 PM »
Revisited jwm window manager the past few days. Wanted something with a bit more Windows-like user interface to set up my kids user account; and since there always seems to be an interest in wm's that are light on resources, I decided to post the results.

Version 2.1 is in the Sid repos; or you can get Version 2.2.2 from git -

Besides being light on resources (up to 50% less than openbox on some systems, although I get nothing close to that), one thing I like about jwm is that it is self contained. Jwm has it's own panel (called the tray) that can contain a menu, pager, app launch buttons, taskbar, systemtray (called the dock <- poor choice of names there, imo), and the clock. The tray can be horizontal or vertical, and multiple trays can be configured by adding additional Tray entries to the $HOME/.jwmrc; or you can use jwm without a tray by completely removing the Tray section.

In addition to the systemtray, jwm also has the ability to swallow apps into the tray - the example in the Arch wiki is to swallow wicd-gtk --tray - but I haven't gotten it to work. Maybe because I pulled the current version from git.

The other nice thing about jwm is that it is still being developed by the original author, although there can be a lot of time between releases.

All configuration is done through the $HOME/.jwmrc file. This is file is in xml format like the openbox rc.xml file. In addition to the tray configuration, there are sections for autostarted apps, key bindings, and styles - ; Very easy to navigate and get the wm up and running to suit your needs. However, there are no gui apps to configure the .jwmrc file.

Jwm plays well with conky, not so much with compositing (on my system anyway). For the screenshot, I added a second panel with just a clock:

So, if you're in the market for a wm that uses a bit less resources than *box, but still want that panel, systemtray, etc ... take a look at jwm.

General Support / Large Icons, tint2 configuration
« on: January 17, 2014, 12:15:10 AM »
Was setting up tint2 as a pager of sorts -

one issue I'm having is getting larger icons. I tried setting different panel widths and paddings, but the icons weren't expanding in the vertical. Am I missing something obvious? I was trying to get 48x48 icons.

Edit - never mind, figured it out.

Pertinent section -

task_maximum_size = width height
        width is used with horizontal panel. width = 0 to get full taskbar width
        height is used with vertical panel

was misinterpreting how that worked.

Artwork & Screenshots / January 2014 Screenshots
« on: January 01, 2014, 01:35:41 PM »
I'll start -

A couple new fluxbox styles I'm messing with -

Happy and prosperous 2014 to all.

and remember (shamelessly taken from #! forum):

Please use thumbnails (please try to avoid the large thumbnail code) linking to the larger image to help those of us with slow connections. Most image hosting sites will automatically generate this for you as well.

I've Got a Life / Christmas aftermath; assembly required --
« on: December 28, 2013, 06:35:50 PM »
At least none of it needed batteries -

I don't want to see another Lego for 6 months -  :D

WM Designs and Discussions / Openbox theme for VISDO 2
« on: October 19, 2013, 05:03:23 PM »
At request of vastone, working on an openbox theme for VSIDO 2 -

Results to date:


Some minor changes to VSIDO aesthetics -

1. Added a clock to the top lxpanel, and this panel is no longer treated as a dock with reserved space to maximize vertical screen real estate.
2. Cleaned up the conky_ob_rc file - removed some double entries and balanced out the linear spacing with ${offset xx}; no changes to colour or system variables.
3. Using a comptonobx.conf - adds some shadows, fade effects, conky window and lxpanel are now excluded from compton effects.

Many additions to rc.xml file to provide window movement and resizing; key binding control to launch VSIDO apps.

thoughts -

WM Designs and Discussions / bspwm window manager
« on: September 11, 2013, 05:18:08 PM »
Been checking out bspwm - second time I've tried it, put a little more patience and effort into this time.

It's a tiling window manager written by an arch linux user - check out the dedicated thread

There are two programs to install - bspwm itself, and the program to define the key bindings - sxhkd - both available from the github linked in the op of the arch thread.

Here is a good HowTo for installing on a debian system (it's in the aur for you arch users).

First time I tried using bspwm, I tried it with xbindkeys because sxhkd wasn't working for me (and a couple #! users) but following that HowTo fixed whatever was messing me up - dependency? Using xbindkeys was causing some issues with other window managers on my system, so go with sxhkd. Two other recommended programs - dzen2 and dmenu.

There is a bit of a learning curve - particularly with the default key bindings - to understand how the windows get manipulated, so read the man pages for bspwm and sxhkd before logging in for the first time. After learning some basics, and setting up some key bindings you're comfortable with, manipulating windows becomes pretty straight forward.

Like most tilers, it has it's default layout - the binary space partitioning was why I checked it out in the first place, it's unique. But, window partitioning can be manual as well - reminiscent of musca window manager for any that have tried it - so it's really easy to get open windows into the layout you want.

Some screenshots -

Panels do work with this window manager, but I'm not sure I got them set up correctly - got the panel started, but it is "always on top" so a portion of the active window disappears beneath the panel. Don't know if that's the default and can be changed. One way around it is to set the:

Code: [Select]
bspc config window_gap
in the $HOME/.config/bspwm/bspwmrc file to a value that leaves the panel uncovered, but there is only one setting for left, right, top, bottom, and space between open windows so a setting of 20 to clear a panel will leave a lot of unused screen space.

The default panels are defined by some pretty impressive bash scripts and require dzen2 be installed.

The conky in the screenshots is a regular conky with:

Code: [Select]
own_window no
Rules can be set up so that windows float by default (xine in the screenshot) and open on a particular desktop (9 virtual desktops by default).

All in all, a good, usable window manager that doesn't take too much effort to learn the basics. Hopefully, the project continues. This single post can't really do it justice, read through the arch thread to get an idea of what can be done with this wm; or watch the screencast (link at top of page) --

General Support / lightdm keyboard issues
« on: August 28, 2013, 01:53:25 PM »
Ever since there was a lightdm update a while back, I have been having issues with the keyboard (HP laptop) - I can enter the user name, but when changing fields to enter the password, there is no input from the keyboard. There seems to be some issues with the drop down menus - change wm's etc ... so maybe some issues with the cordless mouse.

Anyone else having these issues?

Finally got fed up with it and switched to a run level that does not start lightdm. Currently using:

Code: [Select]
xinit <window manager of choise>
to log in to X. Good news is that memory use has dropped from around 150MB idling to 110MB idling - so maybe a memory issue with lightdm as well.

I've Got a Life / Happy Birthday to .....(drum roll).....
« on: August 04, 2013, 01:39:24 AM »
My youngest - she turned 2 today:

How To's / Disable the touchpad on a laptop while typing
« on: July 23, 2013, 07:42:25 PM »

Came across this little app today. I'm sure some of you are on laptops, and one thing that drives me nuts it that the mouse cursor will move as your palm or heel of your hand gets a little too close while typing. This little app takes care of that. It can be run as a daemon so add -

Code: [Select]
syndaemon -d
to your ~/.fluxbox/startup - or whatever startup file you use.

The result is that the touchpad is disabled when the keyboard is in use. By default, the touchpad will become active 2 seconds after keyboard activity stops. That can be chnaged -

Code: [Select]
syndaemon -i 1.0 -d
will cause the touchpad to become active after 1 second. There are some other options detailed in the man page. Worked like a charm when I tested it with geany and thunderbird.

General Support / [Solved] Keybinding to move windows in Xfce
« on: July 23, 2013, 02:13:32 AM »
The Settings Editor of Xfce indicates that the key binding -

Code: [Select]
is the binding to move_window_right_key.

I assume this means that the active window a bit to the right when this key binding is used, but I get no result (8C is entered in a terminal). Anyone else having this issue with Xfce?

Also, anyone have a key binding for incrementally moving the active window in Xfce?

WM Designs and Discussions / E17 Window Manager
« on: July 12, 2013, 12:01:40 AM »
Been checking out the latest release of E17 from the Sid repos - there are build scripts available that will get the latest release from git, but I couldn't get them to work; they are possibly obsolete.

E17 has always marketed itself as a low resource window manager that allows for a lot of bling - and although that was pretty much accurate, in the past it was plagued by instability - it would regularly seg fault on my desktop single core AMD-64. Because of the instability, I never really used it as a main window manager; I would tinker with it because it is modular - like Fvwm - and you load the modules you choose which allowed for a lot of customization.

The current build in the repos seems pretty stable. No crashes yet, but I'm using my HP I3 laptop this time. Lowrider over at #! has been running stable E17 on his #! and Arch systems so it looks like the stable release is indeed stable.

Some shots showing resource usage - fluxbox with compton, Xfce with compositing, E17 with compositing, two terminals and conky. For fluxbox and E17 the terminal is urxvt with transparency, for Xfce it's the xfce4-terminal:

The available themes for E17 have improved a lot (more variety) - use to be they were almost all of the glassy/glossy aesthetic or OSX mimics; there are plenty more modern and gray scale color palettes now. Downside to customizing E17 is that it is a major pain to make your own - E17 uses it's own internal theme elements, but non-e17 apps use available gtk themes which is a nice improvement. As with earlier versions of E17, the E17 themes can be mixed and matched to your liking - i.e the clock module from theme X can be used in theme Y. Most of the buggy modules have been dropped from the base install, as the E17 devs seem to be focusing on improving what works.

E17 loads the compositing module by default, so I used the internal argb settings in conky for a transparent conky window.

All in all a big improvement for the E17 developers, but IMO they are a day late and a dollar (euro if you prefer) short. The improvements made to recent versions of Xfce - particularly the compositor - have pretty much made E17 irrelevant as far as having a WM/DE that combines low resources with as much bling as you want. Unless you're really concerned about the additional resources Xfce uses, it's the better choice, But if you want something different to tinker with, by all means give it a spin - or maybe load Bodhi or Elive into VM's - both are debian/ubuntu based; I liked elive when I had it installed, but E17 at that time just wasn't stable enough to keep it around. Never tried Bodhi, but have read good reviews.

WM Designs and Discussions / cwm window manager
« on: July 02, 2013, 08:37:55 PM »
cwm is one of those minimalist window managers - no window decorations, but good key binding control. Configured in the $HOME/.cwmrc file; good man pages for cwm and cwmrc. The default window manager for OpenBSD, I believe:

it's pretty good if you like minimalism - just under 100 MB memory idling on VSIDO, or for those occasions when you don't want to be distracted by eye candy.

get the source code from git:

Code: [Select]
git clone git://
I haven't used it in a couple years because the aesthetic can be easily duplicated in fluxbox, fvwm, openbox, or tiling wm's like i3 and dwm - all of which have much more functionality, but I'll confess this is the wm I used to train myself to use key bindings for window management instead of the mouse.

You can use a mouse - the default mouse bindings for window movement/resize are the same as fluxbox, and it is conky and panel friendly - tint2 anyway:

that is conky piped to dzen2 - similar to dwm or spectrwm in the first scrot, regular conky window in the second.

WM Designs and Discussions / Using Fvwm as a window manager
« on: March 11, 2013, 03:58:38 AM »
Every forum needs a thread about Fvwm so I started one.  :D

Lightweight, incredibly configurable, stable window manager. Desktop is all Fvwm with FvwmPager, FvwmIconMan, stalonetray, and xclock swallowed by FvwmButtons to create the standard xfce/gnome2 type panel. A function defined in the Fvwm configuration files creates a thumbnail for iconified windows instead of the usual icon:

Vastone likes to say "screenshot or it didn't happen" and it's his forum, so:

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