Tuesday, February 5, 2013

icewm in opensuse 12.2

I've been running openSUSE 12.2 (KDE) for some time now. Yesterday, I decided to try IceWM, which comes installed with this release. By default, the desktop looks something like this, with the desktop right-click menu opened up:

You'll notice that there's no clock on the taskbar, and no icons for CPU status or network status, even if you make sure those are enabled in IceWM's preferences file. I went into YaST2 - Software Management and found that the package icewm-lite was installed by default; working on a tip from someone at the openSUSE forums, I installed the icewm-default package (which uninstalled the icewm-lite package).

I logged out and back in, and the clock, CPU status, and network status icons were now visible on the taskbar.

I found information and documentation for IceWM at their home site (http://www.icewm.org/). Different distros put the system-wide configuration files in different locations; I ran the following command to see where they were in this release:

$ rpm -q -l icewm

From the output of that command, I saw that IceWM's config files were located in the /etc/icewm directory. I created ~/.icewm and copied the default config files into that directory, then used those to customize IceWM.

IceWM's manual pretty much explains everything, but other nice tips can be found out on the internet. I used xli to set my wallpaper (other folks use feh or icewmbg to set the desktop background), edited the menu file, and did some other tweaks like adding application icons and turning on MenuMouseTracking in the preferences file (so that menus track the mouse with no mouse buttons held, which is the behavior most people are probably used to).

I decided to stay with the default theme for now.

More themes can be made available by installing the icewm-themes package; I'm told that you can get a nice control panel by adding the iceWMCP and and iceWMCP-addons packages, but I haven't tried those yet because I'm okay with simply editing the configuration files.

I like when distros ship with a light-weight window manager to log into as an option to the default desktop environment. Sabayon did the same kind of thing, including Fluxbox with the default KDE; rumor has it that Mepis (another KDE distro) will do something similar with its next release. Personally, I think Openbox would be a nice choice, but one advantage that IceWM and Fluxbox have over that window manager is that they come with their own native panel/taskbar; with Openbox, something like fbpanel has to be added.

I haven't played around much with IceWM before now, but I'm already liking it as much as I like Openbox and Fluxbox.

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