Saturday, December 31, 2011

Awesome (the window manager you probably should be using)

I'm not so sure how much I like this new blogger interface. It's a little annoying and definitely doesn't work like I'm used to, and so far it's not great in working like I would think it should. Also, my name is completely off the screen - and this is using Google Chrome, so I'm certain they've got some nasty CSS issues there.

But that's not what I came to tell you about. I came to tell you about Awesome, the window manager for X that you should probably be using.

First of all, I'm running a computer that's not terribly impressive. It's an Intel T2400(?) running at 1.83Ghz. It's a dual core, which definitely counts for something but it's only got 500MB of RAM, so that pretty seriously cramps my style. Not to fear, though, for Awesome Window manager is here, which is much nicer than your standard Gnome or KDE - mainly because it's a lot lighter. So I can actually do things that I want to without having to worry about whether I have enough RAM. Well, at least I can browse the 'net.

Also, pretty much all of the nice chrome that comes with Ubuntu is a bit heavy for my tastes and most certainly this machine. So I've taken to disabling it, so now joy and love abound - or something. Also, I'm a pretty big command-line nut, so it's pretty helpful. About the only reason that I feel the need to start up X is if I want to see pretty pictures. And if I knew of a way to do that via command line, I'd probably rarely bother with X.

So, some instructions about what I did. First, I disabled starting gdm by default by changing line 9 of /etc/init/gdm.conf to read
start on runlevel []
Which just tells gdm not to start... ever.

Then I disabled the splash screen on startup following these instructions:
$ sudoedit /etc/default/grub
$ sudo update-grub 
Then I had to setup an .xinitrc file so that I could actually start my awesome session. It's pretty easy:

$ touch ~/.xinitrc
Then I added the following lines:
nm-applet & #Runs the nm-applet so we can use the nice GUI
exec awesome
And that's the current state of my system.

There are a few things on my wishlist that I'll post when I find the answers:

  1. The virtual terminal isn't swapped to at the beginning, so I have to  Ctrl+Alt+F1 after the boot process. Not sure what the issue is there.
  2. I don't like having to have X started for the network stuff. I can connect to open networks fine, but I need to setup some scripts/cron jobs to auto connect to a list of networks. If I don't find a pre-wrapped solution I may roll my own via Python.
  3. Viewing images/video without having to startx. Not that it's a horrible thing, but it would be pretty cool if I didn't have to - or had some way to simply launch programs in X without having a terminal open, that might be acceptable.
I think those are the extent of my problems that I don't already have some knowledge of how to fix.