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Every time i tell people that i use IceWM, they snicker, and i resent that.
If you are an IceWM user, you know it's a great window manager: fast, light, uses very little memory. It's easy to use and one of the quickest to do work with.
Icewm? Are you kidding? You have to click 3-4 times just to launch an app, no icons on the taskbar, it's boring, it looks like Windows 98, etc, etc.
About 6 months ago, i was reading a review of XFCE4, the author, a renown geek, was explaining how fast XFCE4 was, how beautiful, but that it lacked the easiness to program the key bindings that were so crucial on his line of work. He explained that when he was "in the zone", working furiously, with no interruptions, he couldn't bother with the mouse. He thought that XFCE4 was the way of the future, and that he would keep his eye on it, but that in the meantime, he would go back to IceWM.
Now, why would this geek, with the latest on hardware wasn't using KDE/GNOME?
Hmm, maybe i should look at Ice once more, i thought.
I have used most window managers out there (fluxbox, blackbox, openbox, windowmaker, ion3, pwm, AfterStep, Fvwm, XFCE4, and of course, KDE and GNOME, etc), it's my hobby, i'm always looking for an edge for my old box (PII 266), so i installed IceWM again:
# apt-get install icewm icewm-themes iceme
It gives you a ton of themes, if you like the
Gnome look there are several:
For the Gnome look: IceGnome2 and many others
For the XFCE4 look: IceBlueCurve and IceBlueOkayish
For the Mac look: aquablue, liquid, sortofaqua
For kde: pkde kde2 ,pkde2, yak
For Windows XP: XP and XP-new
I counted 70 different themes that come with IceWM in the icewm-themes package, without counting the others from other sites. There are more themes you can shake a stick at, i'm vision-impared, so i favor dark themes, my favorite is: 708090
To switch between themes, click on the start/linux botton on the far left of the taskbar to get the main menu, choose Themes from the main menu, go down the alphabetical list, click on the theme you like, it will switch like lightning, click on the desktop to make the main menu disappear and voilá. Easy.
I like to use the keyboard instead of the mouse when i can, my wrist appreciates it. So i do: Ctrl + Escape to get the main menu, down arrow to Themes, Enter, down arrow to designated theme, Enter, finito.
So that takes care of the 'looks' myth.
Remember i installed 'iceme'?
iceme stands for 'ice menu editor', launch it from the main menu:
Programs > Apps > System
Maximize the screen: Alt+F10, to minimize it: Atl+F10 again, if you want to minimize to the taskbar: Alt+F9:
Go down the list of the main menu hiliting every item you don't want, and pressing Ctrl+X to delete (or Delete from the Edit top menu).
I ended up with this, as my main menu:
'Programs' is the Debian menu, i don't need much else. When we get to the keybindings you'll see why this is enough.
How did i end with 'iceme' on the main menu? With iceme opened, (this is inside iceme), i went to Programs > Apps > System > iceme, hilited it,
Ctrl+C to copy it,
then i clicked on the space of the main menu that i wanted it placed on, and pressed
Ctrl+V to paste it.
Ctrl+S to save
Ctrl+Q to quit
If you hilite an app and paste another app, the second one will be under the first app. Say, you have Mozilla on the main menu, and you want iceme on the main menu under Mozilla, hilight Mozilla and Ctrl+V to put iceme under it.
If you like icons on the taskbar, open iceme, copy the apps as i did above, open the Toolbar folder, and paste them inside, in whichever order you like, logout/login and voilá.
IceWM comes with a net and cpu monitor that will give you information you require, if you click on the cpu with your mouse left botton, it will launch the program 'top'. If you just pass the cursor over it, it will give basic information about the CPU. If you pass the cursor over the net monitor, it will give you lots of information about the net in your box. If you do the same over the time, it will give you the date and the day of the week, all this can be configured in the ~/.icewm/preferences file. For the date and time, strftime is used. It also comes with 'Show desktop' and 'Window list' icons by default. What more do you want?
Strftime works like this:
%T = military time ex: 18:39:45
%c = regular time ex: 06:39:45 PM
For the tool tip date:
%A = full name of the day (Monday)
%a = abbreviated name of the day (Mon)
%B = full name of the month (October)
%b = abbreviated name (Oct)
%d = regular number for month day (25)
%D = date U.S. style (10/25/04)
So, i use for my time in the toolbar: %T
for my tool tip date: %a %b %d = Mon Oct 25
you can change all this in ~/.icewm/preferences.
Is IceWM configurable?
Be careful what you wish for, you might get it -- old chinese proverb
"Yeah, i want my taskbar double width, at the top of the screen, a la Gnome and with auto-hide, also, i want the time in military time, with the day's name and month abreviated and no year, sheesh, i know what year we're in, i also want to switch workspaces, can you do that in your IceWM, macduck"
In order to configure and/or create apps shortcuts (key bindings), you will have to copy the Preferences and keys files from Debian's global address, but first find out if you got them by default.
if you don't have Preferences and keys, you will have to copy them, so for example if:
If it comes up empty and after trying and doing the same for 'keys' brings the same result, you have to copy both to your user's directory, no problem:
same with the icewm keys:
# cp /etc/X11/icewm/keys /home/your user's name/.icewm/keys
If you're happy with the default preferences in your icewm, there is nothing to change. If you want to change anything, remember to 'uncomment' the line you are going to change and leave it uncommented, sometimes, all lines are uncommented, and that makes it easier.
enable = 1
disable = 0
so if you go as root with your favorite editor to your ~/.icewm/preferences and you're reading the following line because you want to change your taskbar location from the default bottom to the top:
# Task bar at top of the screen
# TaskBarAtTop=0 # 0/1
The second line is the one that has to be edited; notice it is commented (#) which means any change to it, will be ignored, also the value given to it, is '0' which means it is disabled and thus, the taskbar stays at the bottom of the screen. So, if you want the taskbar at the top, start by uncommenting it, and changing the value to '1', so it looks like this.
# Task bar at top of the screen
TaskBarAtTop=1 # 0/1
and the next time you start icewm, you'll have the task bar on top.
Now, in your terminal, press Alt+F10 to maximize and have a full-screen look, all the preferences are piled together by sections, which makes it awful hard to find anything.
What i've done is to separate them into sections for finding things easier.
This Preferences file start with the section about 'windows' in icewm, and everything related to it, the next is about the 'taskbar', and so on, what i do is to separate the different sections, with a commented title, so the next time i know where that particular section is, so here is the end of the 'windows' section and the beginning of the 'taskbar' section, separated like this:
# Reload menu files automatically
# AutoReloadMenus=1 # 0/1
# Show task bar
# ShowTaskBar=1 # 0/1
I have separated the rest of the Preferences file into :
Like i said, this is not imperative, if you're happy with the defaults, don't bother. And yet, i would strongly recommend reading this file there are some pointers and key combinations that would make your life easier.
Finally, we come to the part of IceWM that makes it all well worthwhile to keep IceWM, even as a backup if not your main window manager, the key bindings.
IceWM comes with default shortcuts (like the ubiquitous Alt+Tab) as we have seen there are a ton of them in the Preferences file.
Ctrl + Alt + t will give you the xterm or whatever terminal you want.
Ctrl + Alt + <workspace number> will put you in the workspace you specified
Playing with it, i found out that the left "Windows" key in my keyboard will take the place of the 'ctrl+alt' combo. Thus, i save one key:
Windows key + t = xterm
Windows key + 4 = will take me to the workspace 4
Now, not knowing didly about macros/scripts/programs, i still thought that one key, was the best way to launch my apps, if it worked with 2 keys, why not with one key? This is what i changed in my ~/.icewm/keys and ended up with:
# A list of all valid keyboard symbols can be found in
# /usr/include/X11/keysym.h, keysymdefs.h, XF86keysym.h, ...
# You'll have to omit XK_ prefixs and to replace XF86XK_ prefixes by
# XF86. Valid modifiers are Alt, Ctrl, Shift, Meta, Super and Hyper.
key "F1" aterm
key "F2" xfe
key "F3" mozilla
key "F4" mozilla -mail
key "F5" opera
key "F6" xchat
key "F7" ksnapshot
key "F8" oowriter
key "F9" xzgv
key "F10" gedit
This launches my apps with one key, i like it very much, it's faster than the mouse, especially if you are on a laptop with several workspaces open.
If you wonder what is Gedit doing in that list, it's my default word processor, OOo is there so my wife can watch the .pps. <macondo rolls his eyes>.
So the next time you are on a plane or at the airport, and and have to do some serious work, and are "in the zone", pull out your lappy, choose IceWM and do it, no splash screen, no wallpaper, no little stars titillating on the desktop, just launch your apps quick and go to work.
BTW, if you like, you can copy/paste my ~/.icewm/keys file, into yours, after erasing the default one, change the name of the apps and order of the Fn keys to suit your taste and needs. I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on IceWM,A i'm afraid (there is still launching Mutt and Irssi, i don't even know how to use any of those two), hope it makes your life easier.
Edit 2 June 2006:
I wanted to share this with you IceWM nuts:
I like my terminal maximized (without having to screw around with geometry). I want the new windows that i open maximized, my apps without title bars, saving space on my monitor's screen. I close the screens with the keys, anyway.
As a Debian user i have never liked compiling the kernel. In my PII box it takes 3+ hours.
If you are new and would like a new kernel that goes with your processor, or would like to have the new security patches, or simply try new things, there is a simple way: install a Debian pre-compiled kernel-image.
About 2 weeks ago i installed Sarge with the pre-rc2-net-installer, i chose the 2.4.27 default kernel, but curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to try the kernel 2.6 in my old box, without having to compile a new kernel, or re-install Sarge.
So, i went to the terminal and did:
# apt-cache search kernel-image 2.6
you can do this as user, but i knew i was going to install it anyway, so i did it as root, and wemt from there.
You will get a long list of kernels for all tastes and needs, you will have to choose which is the one for you.
If your processor is AMD, then it's either k6, k7, k8, amd64, if you have more than one processor, then it's SMP, this applies for both AMD and Intel.
If you have an Intel processor, then you got kernel images ending in 386, or 686. If you do a more simple search like 'apt-cache search kernel', you get everything (386, 586, 686, etc) and the kitchen sink, headers, patches, and a bunch of stuff i don't know what there are there for. Anyway, this is the kernel i installed:
- Linux kernel image for version 2.6 on PPro/Celeron/PII/PIII/PIV.
The reason being that it will install the latest kernel version and will ask you if you want to upgrade when the new one (2.6.9) gets into the Debian repositories, i have one processor, simple choice, really.
# apt-get install kernel-image-2.6-686
It promply installed kernel 2.6.8-1-686, did its thing, and took me back to the root prompt, no questions, no init-whatever, it was painless. Back at the prompt, i did:
it gave me a menu showing the 2 kernels
it came back, with all the options of the original Sarge installation , i had to do nothing, and voilá!
That's the way, uha aha, i liiike it, uhha, uhha
--KC and the Sunshine Band
Recently, i've installed Mutt and Pine, i need a text e-mail program, the gui ones are killing my eyes with the white background. These ones come with a black background and are highly color configurable, they work better on full screen and they are launched from the terminal, i haven't decided yet, which one to choose.
So i wanted to do exactly that, but automatically. For that, i needed to know the geometry in columns and lines of my 17" monitor. I googled the manufacturer's site and found every spec under the sun, except what i was looking for. So, i did it by trial and error, this is what i ended up with in my ~/.Xresources:
and added this line to my ~/.xsession:
now when i start, it launches it full screen automatically.
EDIT: I changed the geometry to 85x31 now it's perfect.This value reflects the amount of columns x (times) the amount of lines on your monitor's screen, so depending on the size of your screen and fonts (i use large fonts), the second number will vary.
I know you don't have too much horsepower in your computer and don't want to have all the bells and whistles; however, you may want to check out aterm, an xterm equivalent, especially if you want a lightweight terminal with transparency functionality. I've started to use it instead on konsole. It works great.
Aterm is a light-weight rxvt variant with a nice NeXT-style scroll bar. macondo's tips on customizing xterm via ~/.Xresources should work equally with aterm if you change every "xterm" entry into "aterm". There's also a Wiki entry for aterm here at Linuxquestions.org: http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Aterm
Ohh, you boys are wicked, i just spent about 3 hours playing with aterm, xterm, x-window-system, fonts, and Google.
I ended up uninstalling x-window-system (which takes xdm with it), kept x-window-system-core, with no log messages to worry about, it's a pleasure to use startx. Installed aterm, did my thing at ~/.Xresources, it didn't work, starting trying all the stuff i courld think of nothing, went and search in this site, and google, until finally, i ended pu with this: (i couldn't install my favorite fonts bitstream-vera sans-mono
and this in my ~/.xsession:
Transparency is not for me, so i haven't seen any improvements yet, the scroll bar is smooth, but like i said, i
t will take a couple of days, if it's lighter, that's always welcome.
Originally posted by darthtux With Sarge, when I tried to run icewm, it does not display the background for any theme.
and image is in the right place.
It just displays the default X black and white squiggly
IIRC, i think i read it in icewm.org in order to display a bg image you had to do something else, and that it was in experimental, and that, will make it slower, anyways. I don't think icewm users worry about that kind of option, but i might be wrong.
After reading macondo's praises for icewm I tried it. It was much nicer than I remembered, especially after macondo had shown how to tweak it, but I still think that Window Maker and XFCE4 are more intuitive to use. Anyway, after installing icewm two new entries appeared in the GUI login that I currently use, wdm: "icewm" and "icewm-session". If I chose "icewm" I didn't get background images for themes but if I chose "icewm-session" I got themes with backgrounds. Hope this helps.
if you ever have some free time, it would be great to have a write-up on how to use SSH, i bet there are many people who don't know about it (including me), your postings on vim and nano were a great help.
Following Dead Parrot's tip, i changed my ~/.xsession from 'exec icewm' to 'exec icewm-session', that gave me a black screen/background. Then i downloaded a picture of my daughters to my home directory. Then i went to my ~/.icewm/preferences, at the end (third from the bottom):