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Old 02-22-2009, 03:14 PM   #1
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Transition from GNOME/KDE to window managers and console

Hi people,
I have been doing a slow transition in the months before, from the GNOME and KDE desktop environments to various window managers. I also use the console whenever is faster than some GUI application.
The reasons: my machines are old and I like doing things with minimal resources. I like simplicity.
But changes aren't always easy. In my case, I mostly miss a file manager with automounting (using pcmanfm now). I wonder how many ways there are to understand the 'desktop metaphor'.

Would you share with us your little tricks and preferences to manage your day to day desktop use, window manager (or shell) of preference, etc.?

Thanks so much.

Last edited by harmattan; 02-22-2009 at 03:20 PM.
Old 02-22-2009, 04:49 PM   #2
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Right now I use fvwm, which I've used for many years in the past as well. It's very configurable and powerful, though you will need to read a bit and be prepared to write your own config file. It has all I need, and I can configure it to the bare minimum I need. I don't need desktop menus since I am a keyboard guy anyway, and I prefer key bindings. I use dmenu as my app launcher. I never understood why do people put icons on the desktop. The space in your screen should be used for it's for: running programs. I only see my background when I startx

I use bash for most my file administration tasks. When I need a file manager I use mc which is also very configurable. I also use mc as my burning frontend, with a custom menu I made (just ask for instructions if you are interested). I also use it to launch my videos in mplayer (plain mplayer, not gmplayer).

I use moc as my music player, it's text based, and the interface can be dettached once the playlist is set up and running. You can reattach with mocp -y to the daemon if you need to change something in the list, or if you want to completely exit mocp. It also supports streams and is configurable.

The only file management issue where bash and mc are inefficient for me is when dealing with dirs full of image files. For that I use gqview.

The bigger graphical app I use is firefox, which I also use as my mail reader. I download the mail to my server using fetchmail, sort it using procmail, and serve it using dovecot. I then use squirrelmail to access the dovecot imap server from firefox, by just pointing it to my home server.

I always try to reuse as much resources as I can, and I try not to waste power. The hardware is cheap enough these days, but in my opinion, wasting resources and power without a reason is a silly thing.

About automounting... I really never liked it. But I guess you could look into ivman, which can do it at daemon level and is not linked to any GUI.

Last edited by i92guboj; 02-22-2009 at 04:51 PM.
Old 02-22-2009, 09:43 PM   #3
Registered: Feb 2009
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I have found fluxbox very simple and fast on old PC's. WindowMaker is also doing well on old hardware and it's certainly an interesting choice for investigating Desktop metaphors. XFCE is gaining ground among the minimalistic window managers, so have a look at that one as well.

Using the minimalistic window managers will actually leave without some functionality that is considered natural in case of Gnome or KDE. That's the sacrifice to make.


Last edited by gergely89; 02-27-2009 at 10:46 PM.
Old 02-22-2009, 10:42 PM   #4
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How does LXDE compare to fluxbox, XFCE, etc. regarding speed and resource usage? I've been using it for a few days on a PIII with 256M & it seems much quicker than Gnome or KDE. I haven't tried the whole array yet though.
Old 02-22-2009, 11:40 PM   #5
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You might want to take a look at the "Midnight Commander." It gives you a nice pseudo windowed file manager on the console using ASCII control characters. For automount, if your Linux is using udev just juice the udev script(s) to automount your devices when they're plugged in. And nano is a nice, minimal console "full screen" editor.
Old 03-01-2009, 05:48 AM   #6
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Thank you all for your responses.
I really think I have to take time to learn how to customize mc, it seems a much useful program than I first thought. Also fvwm, which man page is a bit large to be comfortable studying on the screen. I am still a dead-tree book lover. :-)

Regarding fvwm, my first comparison against fluxbox, with Slackware's (12.1) default configurations, showed much memory being used. Maybe it is because of all those external modules...I'll keep trying.


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