Migrating from kde to openbox
When I started using Linux, the 7CD SUSE 7.1 distro I purchased recommended KDE1 - but proposed KDE2 beta as an option. After 6 months of following recommendantions, I went beta - and stayed on KDE for the last 20 years or so...
It has been a bliss, and KDE is a marvelous desktop manager!
So I decided to try OpenBox, and stuck with it with love at first sight: perfectly functionnal without extra fluff!
While searching for config tips, I stumbled upon Vermaden's FreeBSD Desktop series - it inspired me a lot and I recommend you read that series post too, as this post is kind of an addon to his!
The challenge was to implement the 1% of functionality of KDE that I really got used to:
Using 4 screens with different resolutions can be a bit of a fiddle (2*4K 27" below and 2*FHD 27" above)! For A long time, I relied on nvidia settings to perform this task. Since I switched to FreeBSD, I was using KDE's screen manager - I needed to find an alternative for OpenBox.
This alternative came in the form of arandr. I used it once to setup my screens as I wanted, saved the config, and added a line in ~/.config/openbox/autostart saying that
This leaves me with a popup at each boot, where I apply the settings and close the app. I might be looking for something more elegant at some time, but losing 5 seconds at boot to apply this setting is acceptable
This is a hard engraved habit! Vermaden pointed in the right direction, with dmenu, it was as easy as adding a few lines in ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml
<execute>dmenu_run -nb '#1e1e1e' -sf '#1e1e1e' -sb '#f4800d' -nf '#F4800d'</execute>
yakuake has been at my side for years: f12=terminal popdown (with many tabs)! Considering I'm trying to get rid of KDE, as a part of it yakuake is on the list of apps I need to replace.
Guake felt a bit weird too, hence I settled for tilda - which was more minimalistic.
Overall, tilda works great and fills the gap. I still have two major issues: sometimes tilda just dies when I call for a new tab - and I have not found a way to do an init file that would open and name X tabs in a predefined way.
To overcome those two flaws, I am currently using two one liner scripts:
Pointed in the right direction by Vermaden again, as a simple one liner with dzen2 provided just that:
while sleep 1; do date +'%a %b %d %H:%M:%S'; done | dzen2 -sa c -ta c -h 25 -y -1440 -w 200 -x -200 &
Alt tab worked great out of the box... what else?
Ended up replaced by pcmanfm: it is leightweight and allows for split views
Was replaced by transmission - with gui so far, but I plan to switch to the cli at some point
Has not totally been replaced yet... while I love nano, I miss code folding... I might have to learn vim at some point...
This is a screenshot of my desktop while making this page. While the 4 screens are 27" and physically have the same size, the two top ones being only FHD seem smaller in the screenshot - for a total resolution of 5120x2520.
With these few changes, I am not really missing KDE anymore, as it probably covers 99% of my daily use.
One tiny, but significant change of habits, is that by having minimalisic desktop, I can focus better on what I am doing.
One other similar change, is that the simplicity of the desktop drives my creativity - as everything it now is mainly keyboard driven, it inspires me to code little shortuts! Yesterday I did a tiny scipt I called rv - that launches a random video from my video folder, it goes like:
# requires mpv shuffle
cd "$viddir" && mpv $(shuffle -p 1 $(ls -f))
Those small scripts have been uploaded on my tinyscripts git repository
While this transition is still in progress, I feel it is a positive change - as it drives my creativity and gives me a feeling that this is closer to the "Unix" way of using small, well written components to build the system we would like to see. Not only does my system works, but I understand how: this is exciting!
I am undecided for one thing... is using less software making me a better user - or is it because I am becoming a better user, that having less software feels better?
Less is more...