New Desktop

I decided to try a new window manager [1], just because I hadn’t wasted enough time on just fiddling with Conky [2]. I’m not really into a tiling window managers, even though I have plenty of display space (2 1920×1080 monitors). I had been reading in the Arch forums about GOOMWWM [3] (Get Out Of My Way Window Manager) and looking at the goomwwm web page for it[4] made me think that despite its newness, it looked relatively complete, especially with Xinerama [5] support for my dual monitor setup. So I decided to give it a try.

Trying a new window manager isn’t really that big a deal, especially if you are like me and are lazy hardcore enough to not bother to install a login manager like SLiM and just log in to a text terminal and type startx to bring up X. You just change the window manager that gets exec’d at the end of your .xinitc script to be the one you want. So I changed

exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch openbox-session

to be

exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch `which goomwwm`

and off I went! To be honest, I’m not really sure (a) what the “ck-launch-session dbus-launch” part of the command does or (b) if I really need it (as I just copied it from the openbox Arch wiki page), but I left it in there for safety’s sake.

But with nothing set up, it merely brings you to a blank, black screen. And, as I didn’t have ‘dmenu‘ [6] installed (it should be, I think, at least an optional dependency, as it is prominently featured in the GOOMWWM tutorial [7]), I couldn’t really do anything!

So I went back to the command line and installed dmenu and followed the tutorial, and lo, it was good. Window control is a little more painful with the mouse as you have to hold down the Mod key (left Windows key by default) but is a snap with the keyboard, so that’s okay. The concept of tags for windows that correspond to desktops in other window managers again takes some getting used to but works very well in practice. It’s especially nice to be able to bring up a window on another “desktop” by merely clicking on it.

So then I spent way too much time getting things somewhat customized. I still like blue for a desktop color, so I went over to The Paper Wall to find a few interesting wallpapers and settled on a blue forest [8] as my left desktop and a nice waterfront view of Boston [9] as my right desktop.

Then I went a Conky customizing, which is an endless time sink if there ever was one. Luckily, I discovered this great Conky customizing script called ‘conky-colors‘ [10]. Basically, you pass in a few (or more!) parameters and it creates a stock Conky config file with support scripts and everything. I eventually settled on this for a conky-colors command line:

$ conky-colors –cputemp –theme=human –arch –cpu=4 –proc=5 –clementine=vinyl –calendar –nvidia –hd=default –weather=USMA0245 –photord –network –unit=F –clock=modern –side=left

And then I modified away, mostly to just get the right colors (more blue!). That’s the panel on the left side of the right hand screen. It shows system info, a calendar and clock, a random picture from a folder, what my media player (Clementine) is currently playing, and some more system stats.

The I finally found a script that generated a good Conky weather forecast pane in conkywx[11]. There were a few bumps in the road, but I got them ironed out with the help of the author in the Arch forums and now I have a nice weather panel in the lower right.

So now I just need to get used to goomwwm. I like being able to quickly and easily use the keyboard to move and resize the windows, and even fill the blank space. It can behave a little like a tiling window manager, with commands for windows to swap position, share a position, etc, which I haven’t played with much.

It also has a unique idea about “desktops”. You can tag any window with a number between 1 and 9 and then hit Alt-F[1-9] to bring all those windows with that tag number to the front. The others are still there but just behind. So it is easy to assign windows to different tags and swap between them, but you can also use very easily use windows with other tags by just clicking on them. And goomwwm tells other tools (like Conky) that the tag selected is the “desktop”. Works pretty well.

[1] http://xwinman.org/intro.php
[2] http://conky.sourceforge.net/
[3] https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=144038
[4] http://aerosuidae.net/goomwwm/
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinerama
[6] http://www.archlinux.org/packages/community/x86_64/dmenu/
[7] http://aerosuidae.net/goomwwm/tutorial
[8] http://thepaperwall.com/wallpaper.php?view=5cddb00435b4ffd1a4d7a08d351723dcee9a3f7d&fol=nature
[9] http://thepaperwall.com/wallpaper.php?view=3b66596749f5d2b44356207bc05a9be32eaa9219&fol=cityscape
[10] https://github.com/helmuthdu/conky_colors
[11] https://bitbucket.org/plikhari/conkywx_pub/overview

My October screenshots. Click to embiggen.

Clean:
Dirty:

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