Thursday, May 17, 2012

old school

Even though I'm quite pleased with KDE4, GNOME Shell, and Unity, I still find myself enjoying the more "traditional" environments (although I'm okay with letting GNOME 2 fade off into the sunset!).

I use Xfce in SalineOS, and about half the time in Mepis 11; and the other day I decided to see how an installation would go from a Debian Live session, so I chose debian-live-6.0.4-i386-xfce-desktop.iso for it (it went well; I think that going forward, I'll use Debian Live and run a live session to look things over before installing). To me, it kinda seems like Xfce is the best environment to run in Debian and Debian-based distros. In fact, I'll never quite understand why Linux Mint didn't go with Xfce as the default DE instead of going to all that trouble of coming up with Cinnamon and Mate...

Anyway, here's a look at it in Debian Squeeze, on my notebook:

As you can see, I'm using Desktopnova for automatic wallpaper changing, which works nicely in Xfce. (Be sure to install the desktopnova-module-xfce package along with the main desktopnova package.)

Today, I added Openbox to Ubuntu 12.04. Openbox installs with no panel, so I added xfce4-panel to use with it. Spent a little time tweaking the menus and panels, added feh and a script for automatically changing the wallpapers, that sort of thing. Ended up with a fairly basic desktop; here are a couple shots from my main pc, the first one showing the Openbox desktop right-click menu, and the second one showing the Xfce panel's menu -- both of which I've customized to my tastes:

Sometimes, you're just in the mood for something simple and light.

The thing I really miss the most when I'm using a "traditional" environment is "hot spots," or "screen edges," whatever you wanna call 'em. I make good use of those in KDE4, GNOME Shell, and Unity. The workspace grids are convenient, too; and a lot of times it's nice to be able to open up GNOME Shell's Activities Overview, for example, and start typing in the name of an app to quickly get to it. Also, GNOME Shell's "dynamic workspaces" feature is a big hit with me.

But I'm just as comfortable going "old school with Xfce or Openbox.

There's a lot of Openbox info out there, but a good place to check out is the ArchLinux Openbox page (and I don't even use Arch!). In my case, I'm glad I looked there, because Openbox in Ubuntu Precise is at version 3.5, and I didn't see any info on that version at the "official" Openbox site. I guess they're working on it. Some changes mentioned at the Arch page for Openbox 3.5:

- There is a new config file called environment that you should copy from /etc/xdg/openbox to ~/.config/openbox.
- The config file previously called is now just called autostart. You should rename yours to remove the .sh from the end of the name.
- Some of the configuration grammar in rc.xml has changed. While Openbox appears to understand the old options, it would be wise to compare your configuration to the one in /etc/xdg/openbox and look for changes that affect you.

A couple of final notes:

Here's a link to Dedoimedo's review of Xubuntu 12.04:

Looks like he was impressed.

And, staying with the "old school" theme, a link to Duskfire's review of Crunchbang Statler (nice-looking blog, by the way):

I keep telling myself I'm gonna check that distro out, but still haven't gotten around to it.

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