Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Fluxbox and Thunar

I have switched over to using Fluxbox as my window manager with Thunar as the file manager. After some configuration fiddling, I find it much faster and more efficient than Gnome with Metacity and Nautilus. It runs a LOT faster. A couple things that might throw you off of using it at first: When you first use it after install, it is very plain. It needs help getting dressed. Also, configuration is done through text files. This should not be a problem, but it bothers some people.

Trying it is easy, at least with Ubuntu. Just install it, and log out of Gnome. Then select Options in the lower left, and select session as fluxbox. You can try it out once, or set it as default. There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to configure basic things like the background and menus and shortcuts, and they are mostly very helpful. Not to mention the fluxbox documentation itself, which is great.

Some suggestions:
  • Use Thunar for file management. I find Thunar to be just what I need in all cases thus far, and nothing else. It is fast and efficient. Here are some handy tips for using Thunar.
  • Unless you really want icons on the desktop, Rox can be more trouble than its worth. Case in point: It refuses to be transparent. Say you set a background via fbsetbg, then keep this constant by setting the appropriate rootcommand in ./fluxbox/init. Then you start Rox. Your background turns gunmetal, how peculiar! Of course, you can set a background in Rox, which works fine. Until you want to have an application, e.g. Eterm, be transparent. It will look to the original background, not the Rox one. And there is no way to make Rox itself transparent with respect to background, at least in the current version.
  • Move fluxbox tab placement into the title bar of windows. To me, that wart called a tab on every window got annoying very fast. Positioning them into the title bar means you can still use fluxbox tab functionality, without the wart.
  • The slit is a great thing. You can put lots of handy little dockapps in it to do everything from showing an LCD clock to watching log files. There are a lot in the Ubuntu repos, so run "sudo apt-cache search wm" first. Install what looks good, then add an entry for each in .fluxbox/apps. Restart fluxbox and see what you like. If you decide any of the dockapps aren't you, remove them from the apps file. If you want them in a particular order, you can put them in ./fluxbox/slitlist.
As a side note, it seems that .xpm files need to be used for the icons in the fluxbox menu. I found this out after trying to use .png files, a common format for icons. It's easy enough to convert them: Just open your favorite one per app in the Gimp, Save As, and xpm as the format. Usually, they are stored in /usr/share/pixmaps. Then just update the references to the icons in .fluxbox/menu, and voila, nice icons in your menu.


Anonymous soedar said...

You can use png icons in fluxbox menu. You just need to (re)compile fluxbox with imlib2 support (which was disabled on default)

May 19, 2007 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger by Immortal Curiosity said...

That is awesome. Thanks for the tip! Now I shall have more pretty eye candy:-)

May 19, 2007 at 6:56 PM  

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