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Posts Tagged ‘wmii

Sawfish WM

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sawfish window manager

sawfish window manager on debian squeeze

I tried Sawfish window manager out this morning.

Sawfish is an extensible window manager using a Lisp-based scripting language. Its policy is very minimal compared to most window managers. Its aim is simply to manage windows in the most flexible and attractive manner possible. All high-level WM functions are implemented in Lisp for future extensibility or redefinition.

Basically, it’s very lightweight and fast, which I love. It manages windows. That’s it. It doesn’t get in the way with a bunch of “desktop environment” bloat. To really make it work for me, I’d have to figure out better how to control it via the keyboard, and, especially, program my own keybindings. There is a little gui tool for adding keybindings, but it seems to only provide the means of adding a binding for sawfish’s own functions, and calling a terminal, whereas, I’d like to pull up a “run program” dialog (like grun, fbrun, that kind of thing), and program some bindings to bring up my most used applications, as I have in OpenBox. All in all, I don’t see any advantage in it over OpenBox, but I can see myself playing with it further. Apparently the keybindings and other features can be programmed in with Lisp, which I’d like to learn anyway. (I recently had an exchange with RMS in which I tentatively offered to add an extension for emacs to export a file to .djvu, and probably it’s best to just learn lisp to do that, no? ). I was able to set a wallpaper with gsetroot, and I DID program in Mod-t to bring up a terminal, but I used the gui tool to do that.
Essentially, Sawfish is the kind of window manager I like. Simple, fast, unfettered with useless bloat. OpenBox has been my default, of late, but I do sometimes switch over to wmii for it’s excellent tiling features.

The screenshot is from my experimentation with sawfish on Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 Squeeze on AMD64 architecture.  You see a roxterm, the window manager’s menu (middle click), and a small conky in the bottom right corner (just as I use in openbox) to display a clock and monitor system parameters (cpu/ram/swaap use, net up/down).

Written by tonybaldwin

February 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

current screenshot 2010.02.21

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Listening to Bebel Gilberto using Tickle Tunes, while having another look at the code thereof…
Ah, but I’d better get back to translating these Brazilian articles…
If I had time to play, really, I’d go outside.

Current weather?
Current conditions at CT (KHVN)
Last updated Feb 21, 2010 – 10:53 AM EST / 2010.02.21 1553 UTC
Temperature: 41.0 F (5.0 C)
Relative Humidity: 40%
Wind: from the NW (310 degrees) at 9 MPH (8 KT)
Sky conditions: clear

… too nice to be in here hackin’ or translatin’ …darned deadlines.

Eu preciso dizer que te amo!
Ao menos que Bebel continua cantando…

Written by tonybaldwin

February 21, 2010 at 9:04 am

debian olive drab wallpaper

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A little wallpaper I made for myself.

Here it is in action:

Written by tonybaldwin

February 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

wmii sucks less (adventures in the search for the perfect wm)

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In the constant search to find the most ergonomic and efficient means of interacting with my computer, to use system resources in the most sparing, and efficient manner that allows me to get my work done in the most efficient manner, I have, in the past couple of years, been experimenting with various window managers.

I used to be a KDE guy, but looking at KDE now, I’m afraid, makes me want to vomit. I’ve learned better ways of interacting with, and controlling the machine via the terminal, at this juncture, and no longer feel the need for all of the gui/handholding elements of what I now considered a bloated, inefficient, and cumbersome interface.

Close to three years ago I starting playing with XFCE, fluxbox, and jwm, and settled on fluxbox for about a year. Then, various events (switching from the PCFluxboxOS based Linguas OS, a translators gnu/linux that I created, back to Ubuntu, at that time, plus slow development on fluxbox), left me seeking another wm, and I switched to openbox for a while. That didn’t last long. Openbox IS nice, mind you, but I was started playing with fvwm, twm, dwm, xmonad, and dwm. I decided I really liked tiling window managers, and would have settled on dwm, had it not had difficulty rendering java swing windows (such as OmegaT uses, and OmegaT is my most used work application) with some kind of work around, which could only be accomplished by altering and recompiling the entire wm from source (I might be somewhat geeky, but that’s a bit over the top for me). At that time, I started using Ion3, and stuck with it for about a year. Ion3, developed by Tuomo Valkonen, truly is an excellent window manager. I particulary agree with his thoughts on window managers in general.

So-called “modern desktop environments” converge on total unusability, and present-day mainstream graphical user interfaces in general are far less usable than they are praised to be. Usability simply does not equal low learning curve, and hiding system details from the user, as the Official Truth seems to be these days. Convenience foods are also easy and fast, but not very palatable (and you don’t want to know all the ingredients).

I thoroughly enjoyed Ion3’s marriage of tiling and tabbed features, easy keyboard control, and simple configuration via lua scripting. The sad fact about ion3, however, is that the Tuomo has defected to the dark side, first, and second, has stopped development thereof, and, in the first place, there were questionable elements of the licensing thereof, all of which left me wanting to move away from ion3 and find another suitable environment within which to work.

I moved back to openbox for about a week, although this time without using any panels or other DE elements (no LXDE, no pypanel, just openbox with a little conky on screen to give me a clock and a few system statistics), but I was left wanting the quick and easy window arrangement of a tiling wm. Now, I used tile with it, for a bit, and was largely pretty happy, but no quite so much so, and decided to see what else was available.

At the advice of my nephew, Sam, I checked out wmii.

My verdict: wmii = teh awesome.

So, at this juncture, I’ve now been using the wmii window manager for several weeks, and don’t anticipate any further changes any time soon. I’m happy and comfortable, and, above all, efficient. (I’m all about efficiency, you may have noted, which is a large part of why I use gnu/linux, in the first place, which may likely be the subject of a future article.)
This is what it looks like:

Learn more at
Now, why is wmii teh awesome?
Well, like Ion3, it is tiling (but not tabbed), which means windows are conveniently arranged on the desktop without much superfluous interaction on my part. I can leave then in tiled mode, stacked mode, or free-floating mode (better for the gimp and other such tools), and switch between windows and display modes with a flick of the keyboard. It organizes windows onto “tags”, which are analogous to “desktops” in the parlance of most window managers/desktop environments, and, switching between said tags is also accomplished with a quick keybinding. Basically, it keeps everything neatly arranged, and, otherwise, stays the heck out of my way, allows me to control windows, the desktop, etc., via the keyboard, so that I’m not constantly reaching for a mouse, thus augmenting my efficiency while working, and does it all while using few system resources. Unlike dwm, which is nice, however, it seems to have no difficulty with java swing windows. It’s also easily hacked/reconfigured by modifying the simple wmiir script that loads it on login, which is nothing more than a simple bash script. Basically, it does what I need efficiently and elegantly, and doesn’t do what I don’t need, i.e. holding my hand or getting in my way.

wmii was developed by the kind folks at, who have created a lot of nice, simple, useful software (including dwm, slock, and other stuff) that, well, sucks less.

Written by tonybaldwin

February 18, 2010 at 8:11 am