Wednesday, July 5, 2017

stretch, with kde and openbox

Debian 9 ("stretch") was officially released as the latest Debian Stable on June 18. A little over a week later, I downloaded the debian-9.0.0-amd64-netinst iso and did a network installation; I went with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop, and I also added Openbox.

Stretch ships with KDE Plasma 5.8.6. I've added the Double Commander file manager to use instead of Dolphin, along with several other apps that weren't provided by default, like Geany text editor, VLC media player, Geeqie image viewer, and Mirage image viewer. Stretch comes with Firefox ESR (version 52.2.0), but I installed Pale Moon web browser to use instead.

Some other packages I added included synaptic, inxi, rsync, localepurge, screenfetch, and some stuff to use in Openbox, like nitrogen, gmrun, the Debian menu package, compton (for Konsole transparency in Openbox), and gxmessage for my logout/shutdown script.

The default Plasma desktop in Stretch:

Note the absence of application launchers on the panel. Those can be added, of course, but I kinda like that the choice is left to the user.

Here's a shot of the empty desktop after I made some changes:

Clicking on the KMenu displays what, in my opinion, is a smart arrangement: a customizable "Favorites" bar, which I use instead of "traditional" panel launchers; below that, the Logout, Reboot, and Shut Down buttons; the Application Menu, which I use instead of Plasma 5's default Application Launcher; and below that, a search box:

From the Desktop Settings, I switched around the mouse actions so that a left-click on the open desktop reveals the Standard Menu and a right-click opens the "Application Launcher" menu:

I've turned off most of Plasma 5's desktop effects, but one I've kept is the Desktop Cube. In my case, it isn't really a "cube" since I use only three virtual desktops:

For my Openbox setup, I'm using a customized desktop right-click menu, and a left-side, vertical tint2 panel with a few application launchers at the bottom. KDE apps, and all other apps, are of course available from within the Openbox session:

While many people complain (quite loudly, in many cases) that Debian is still too time-consuming (and, at times, still to difficult) to install and set up, I rather enjoy the process. I feel the same way about installing Arch Linux. For users with less patience and less time on their hands, there are many other Linux distros out there that provide nicer out-of-the-box experiences than what you'll get from Debian (or Arch), but at the cost of fewer installation options. Also, those "easier distros" tend to include a lot more stuff that I don't want or need.

In any case, I'm now set with another nice Debian Stable installation, which I'll be using on my main computer for the next two or three years. Life is good.

Some options for getting Debian can be found here:

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