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Fluxbox, we meet again

I'm sort of tired of KDE4 crashing left and right and Plasma barfing all over me all day. So I decided to check out the current state of lightweight window managers.

Lo and behold, Fluxbox is still going strong. It was the first WM I used way back in 2000-something when I started using Linux full-time. Last time I tried, there were always weird compatibility problems with system tray icons and pagers working properly when running a mix of KDE and Gnome and other apps, but those seem to have cleared up nicely; I have yet to hit any snags. Here's a screenshot.

Fluxbox

This took very minimal effort to install and set up. Maybe a couple hours total. I'm using ipager and conky. The wallpaper comes from the UniQ KDE theme. Vim and Emacs themes are my own.

The Fluxbox style is mydefcon_4 from tenr.de which is probably the largest and most thorough set of themes created by one person that I've witnessed. That fellow is motivated.

For all the bells and whistles of KDE4, what features did I actually use regularly?

  1. A menu of apps
  2. Taskbar + System tray + Clock
  3. KWin's good window management.
  4. Global keyboard shortcuts galore
  5. One widget: current CPU/RAM/Network usage
  6. Mouse/keyboard management, background-setting, etc.

Fluxbox gives me all but number 5, and Conky gives me that. Number 6 you can do with xset and feh and such.

And I like being motivated to use keyboard shortcuts for more things. I'm already halfway there. Maybe I can take the plunge eventually and try a tiling window manager. Not sure I've reached that level of nerditude yet though.

And now I can move and resize windows without my graphics card bursting into flames. Maybe when I can afford a few more cores worth of CPU I'll try KDE4 again. Honestly I think I have too much monitor real-estate for my ancient computer to handle smoothly in KDE4.

Not to knock KDE4; it's awesome and I'll probably go back someday. But everyone needs a break now and then.

November 15, 2009 @ 8:32 AM PST
Cateogory: Linux

8 Comments

Nathan
Quoth Nathan on November 15, 2009 @ 9:08 AM PST

When you are ready to cross that Rubicon, I'd recommend XMonad or awesome. I'm using the latter but I'm planning on switching to the former when I grok Haskell better.

Rajat
Quoth Rajat on November 15, 2009 @ 12:34 PM PST

Try OpenBox with Tint2. For creating the menu, you can use MenuMaker. Works like a charm.

Brian
Quoth Brian on November 15, 2009 @ 2:16 PM PST

@Nathan Yeah those two are on my radar. One of these days.

@Rajat: Thanks. Tint2 looks very tempting.

Michael
Quoth Michael on November 18, 2009 @ 4:46 AM PST

The one killer feature of KDE, IMO, is KRunner. I need only 2 global shortcuts: Meta+Space for KRunner and Alt+~ for Yakuake (quake-style shell). I don't use the menu; I don't have to memorize shortcuts.

You have emacs and vim open on your desktop: You're probably quicker or more determined with shortcuts (or extremely old school). I could never stand having to work with a cheat sheet. So, perhaps this is more of an issue to me than it is to you.

On a side note, could you provide a copy-pasteable version of the fractal code shown in the screenshot? I'd like to try it out.

fdsafdasf
Quoth fdsafdasf on November 18, 2009 @ 6:40 AM PST

I went from fvwm, to enlightenment, to fluxbox, to openbox, to xmonad.

I used xmonad for a year, but got really frustrated with how difficult it was to configure, and how fragile that configuration was if you didn't know Haskell.

About six months ago I switched to scrotwm, which was about as simple as you could get as far as configuration goes, and much more lightweight than xmonad.

Unfortunately, I found scrotwm too inflexible for my needs, and so quickly switched to musca, which I think struck the perfect balance. It's got all the advantages of scrotwm, but is much more flexible, and still much easier to configure than xmonad.

Brian
Quoth Brian on November 18, 2009 @ 7:36 AM PST

@Michael Here's the code.

I bound Win-R to konsole on my computer. KRunner is essentially just a fancy commandline. I'd rather have a terminal so I can see the output from the program anyways.

@fdsafdasf Interesting progression. I've never even heard of musca. So many darn window managers to choose from.

Oleg
Quoth Oleg on June 05, 2010 @ 5:16 PM PDT

Hello Brian!

Can you tell me how to make window labels to print in uppercase (like you've done). And one more question: how did you hide application icons (like google chrome icon, gvim green "V" icon, e.t.c) in window title bar and bottom toolbar?

Thank you.

Brian
Quoth Brian on June 06, 2010 @ 1:56 AM PDT

It's the font I'm using. I just emailed you, hope that helps. I completely forget how to hide app icons though.