tonybaldwin | blog

non compos mentis

simplify, simplify, simplify: What makes a window manager user friendly?

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linguas os - fluxbox

(my current desktop)

I used to think that what made a window manager/user interface easy to use was lots ot menus and buttons and icons and easy to find graphical elements….
I don’t think that way anymore…
One of the things that I really like about Fluxbox is how easy it is to program keyboard shortcuts.
All I have to do is edit the keys file in my ~/.fluxbox dir.
I have a few of the programs I use most regularly programmed into keyboard shortcuts, for instance, I have Alt-T programmed to bring up sakura, a lovely
little terminal emulator, with three open tabs. Quite handy.
I have key shortcuts to open Firefox, thunderbird, tickle text
, and transprocalc.
I should program one in for OmegaT, and one for OpenOffice, too.
Those are my top used programs (probably FF, Tbird, OpenOffice and OmT as top 4, then the text editor for hacking and other stuff, and tpcalc for managing projects…
after that is probably xmms for listening to awesome tunes,
pidgin and konversation-irc client for communications purposes…
logjam for posting here…).
I also have a keyboard shortcut to bring up a tiny tk text widget with a few characters
like, “¡ ¿ æ © ®”, for cut/paste purposes
(even quicker than opening tickle text
and inserting them with the special character dialog, then c/p them where I need them, really…
this is one minor drawback to fluxbox…with my US-Intl keyboard, in KDE, I can type
those characters using alt-/, alt-1, alt-r and alt-c, but, for some reason, they don’t work in flux…).
And, one more (alt-c for “command”) to bring up fbrun, which enables me to simply enter a command to run a program,
which is how I run almost anything else now… (like the “Run command” item on some wm menus).
I do alt-c , and fbrun pops up and I can enter any program to run it.
If I don’t know where the program is, of course, I can to alt-t, bring up sakura and do a whereis, then run it from there, or pop up fbrun, if I don’t to keep sakura up.
Or, if I don’t rememeber what name I gave a script to run something, I can, likewise, open a terminal, cd to /usr/local/bin where I’ve placed all of my own scripts, and see what’s there.

Who needs menus and icons and blinking lights?
That’s inefficient…

Heck, I think I would like a WM that consisted of nothing more than an empty desktop (with groOvy wallpaper
of my chosing), a window/desktop pager,
and a keys file….perhaps an init or start up file to start gkrellm, xcreensaver and a couple of other things.
I could do anything I need just with a terminal and fbrun, which I could bring up with a key shortcut.

I tried out FVWM, and, it’s more or less an empty desktop, pager, and a terminal, but, I don’t know how to program the keyboard shortcuts for it, yet, or configure the wallpaper.
I’ll figure that out, though, when I have a minute, and, who knows?.

another recent screenshot:
current desktop

Allright…back to work…


Written by tonybaldwin

May 8, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Posted in info technology

Tagged with ,

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