Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Switched to LXDE

I took Openbox one step further and installed LXDE:

sudo apt-get install lxde

LXDE is a Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. It looks pretty slick, and uses Openbox as the window manager. It also adds a few other things, like:

  • a session manager
  • a lightweight terminal
  • openbox for the window manager
  • a theme switcher
  • a network manager
  • a desktop panel
  • xscreensaver
I needed to do a little bit of customization right off the bat. The default web browser is "Web Browser", which is a Gnome project based on gecko. I prefer Firefox. The docs on lxpanel are pretty weak, so it's not obvious how to add things to it. You need a .desktop file, of which there are plenty in /usr/share/app-install and /usr/share/applications. It should be a matter of just point and click to pick the right desktop file, but it turns out lxpanel will only read desktop files from /usr/share/applications or /usr/local/share/applications. So I copied the firefox.desktop file from /usr/share/app-install to /usr/local/share/applications (this is a good place since this folder is likely empty or close to empty, so it is easy to figure out which desktop files are yours), then used the gui installer to add Firefox to the application launcher. I did the same with Thunderbird, and removed a couple of the pre-installed launchers.

The default install only creates 2 desktops, and I like 4. There is a nice gui configuration for Openbox, it allows changing the number of desktops to 4, but doesn't let you set wrapping, as in switching from desktop 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to back to 1. To fix this, you need to edit the configuration file ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rc.xml. Find the keyboard bindings for "DesktopLeft" and "DesktopRight" and change the wrap element from "no" to "yes". You'll need to log out and back in for this to take effect, but prior to doing that, I want one more change.

In the past, I've always uninstalled Gnome's screensaver or KDE's screensaver and used xscreensaver. I've always used Ctrl-Alt-Delete to have xscreensaver lock the screen. To do that, edit lxde-rc.xml once again. There is already a keybinding setup that uses Ctrl-Alt-Delete, so I just replaced the command with "xscreensaver-command -lock". Now I log out and back in, and desktops wrap and xscreensaver locks.

There is probably a little more to configure, but the main things I want for usability are there.

I'm thinking seriously about uninstalling gnome altogether. I don't think I need it at all anymore.

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