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1clue
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:39 pm    Post subject: Need lightweight multi-monitor keyboard oriented environment Reply with quote

Hi,

I have a minimal Gentoo hardened setup with a first-gen i7 on it, this is primarily a KVM host but I'm going to try to add workstation functionality to it. I need a window manager (not necessarily a desktop environment) which has support for multiple monitors and keyboard shortcuts for just about everything. It's been awhile for me, so I'd like recommendations for what you know works well on a current non-systemd setup for my scenario, or parts of it you know about.

What I DO NOT want:

  1. Gnome.
  2. KDE.
  3. Lots of widgets and dashboards.
  4. Lots of (any?) screen effects.
  5. Anything that sucks up a lot of CPU or memory that I want for something else, unless I explicitly start it myself.


I was going to install xfce but I noticed it wants to pull in gtk+, I don't really like that. I don't want to have that whole mess shoved onto my system without my consent.

If I had a few days to play with a config file and if I knew it handled multiple monitors nicely I'd install FVWM or maybe fvwm-crystal with some of the changes that have been posted about that some time back. This is a serious option if anyone knows about multi-monitor support or where I can get example configs, I know for certain that the FVWM I used more than a decade ago would work fine other than the unknowns about modern software and multiple monitors. At one point I had it tuned to exactly what I wanted at the time.

I'd like to hear about some more modern options first just because they'll probably have more support.

I installed i3 once on a lark, it seemed OK but had to do real work before I got used to it so I uninstalled. This could still be an option, I don't know if it supports multiple monitors though.

Here's what features matter to me:

  1. Amd64
  2. Good keyboard shortcuts for most functionality, including setting my own shortcuts for launching apps and that sort of thing.
  3. Good ability to zoom to full screen and back (1 monitor or both, or possibly even more than two monitors, would be nice if there were separate hotkeys for different types of zoom)
  4. Ability to move a window from monitor to monitor, again would be great if that could be a keyboard shortcut.
  5. Ability to start an app using -geometry option even if the app doesn't support it directly.
  6. Multiple 'desktops' so you can switch between groups of apps.
  7. Ability to have an app default to a certain desktop and/or monitor.
  8. Good ability to tile apps on a workspace, and zoom whatever one I want when I want.
  9. Ability to make it pretty minimal, getting rid of features I don't want and keeping the ones I want.


Apps/features I would like to have without getting into gnome/kde projects:

  1. An extremely good terminal. I live there.
  2. Firefox. Sorry, it's literally a requirement by name for my work. I'll use other html5 capable browsers too, with and without javascript support.
  3. A really good file browser, again hopefully with good keyboard support.
  4. A good video player, possibly a firefox plugin or plugins.
  5. Skype and join.me and Webex, all with audio/video/desktop sharing would be great, but I think I'm SOL there.
  6. Support for sublime text 2, but I think that's not a big problem.
  7. A good sound control panel and mixer without the need for pulseaudio.
  8. Good task manager/cpu load/network load/etc style app or apps.


Thanks.
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tclover
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh... you seem to know what you want and what you don't! This is a good thing to begin with.

So, if you don't mind having dbus... you may try Enlightenment, udev is optional here (--although you may need it for device hotplug.) systemD is strictly not needed here... well just stick to <=EFL/ELM-1.11+E18 because EFL-1.12+/E19+ is being developed for Wayland; and this require logind, hence systemD. But this should not be a worry because... it's not that stable anyway.

WTF EFL/E? Well, it's a modern & eyecandy & lightweight (D)E. Multi virtual desktop if fully supported... like 4x4 (16 virtual desktop is easy to work) with full of options & keybinding. Tiling is even an option here. E, will let you do what you want while offering a modern & eyecandy feel.

There is a gtk port of E default dark theme... so you might pull in a few gtk+ apps... it will also work with qt-4.x.

Your taste is rather classic? Maybe it's not for you then.

NOTE: Don't rely on E FM, just pull in PCMandFM or SpaceFM instead or whatever you like. There is a lightweight image viewer, although I would recommend a lightweight gtk+ variant. There is a MPD module... (and an app in alpha developpement) in order to control MPD easily...

Check two screen shots here http://opendesktop.org/content/show.php?content=156023 (for E+gtk+ apps.)
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1clue
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The idea is to avoid a lot of clutter.

I used Enlightenment on...can't really remember what distro a few years back. It was the heaviest thing out there at the time. I don't think this is on my short list.

Thanks.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With your requirements, why do you need an 'environment' ? You need a window manager and appropriate applications. Which may, in turn, require some graphics libraries.
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khayyam
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: Need lightweight multi-monitor keyboard oriented environ Reply with quote

1clue wrote:
I installed i3 once on a lark, it seemed OK but had to do real work before I got used to it so I uninstalled. This could still be an option, I don't know if it supports multiple monitors though.

1clue ... see goal "3" on the i3 website and the multiple monitor section from the user guide.

I won't suggest i3 above any other wm (getting use to some behavior or other often takes time regardless of the software, so any such question really depends on 1). what your currently use to, and/or expect, and 2) how much effort you are willing to put in to change that ... and, more importantly, if you feel the need to do so) but here's how i3 tallys up to your "features" list:

1clue wrote:
Amd64

I'd doubt there are any wm not capable of being compiled on amd64.

1clue wrote:
Good keyboard shortcuts for most functionality, including setting my own shortcuts for launching apps and that sort of thing.

These are all configurable via 'bindsym' ... eg:

Code:
set $mod Mod1
# start a terminal
bindsym $mod+Return exec --no-startup-id /usr/bin/urxvtc
# change focus
bindsym $mod+j focus left
[...]
# switch to workspace
bindsym $mod+1 workspace 1
[...]
# reload the configuration file
bindsym $mod+Shift+w reload

1clue wrote:
Good ability to zoom to full screen and back (1 monitor or both, or possibly even more than two monitors, would be nice if there were separate hotkeys for different types of zoom)

I'm not sure what you mean with the latter feature ... generally its whatevers focused that recieves the key, otherwise, yes:

Code:
bindsym $mod+Shift+F fullscreen

1clue wrote:
Ability to move a window from monitor to monitor, again would be great if that could be a keyboard shortcut.

Yes, a monitor can be setup as specific workspace(s) ... and so:

Code:
# move focused container to workspace
bindsym $mod+Shift+exclam move workspace 1

1clue wrote:
Ability to start an app using -geometry option even if the app doesn't support it directly.

Not sure I understand, in the case of i3wm a geometry is dependent on what the container is (ie, stacked, tabbed, default) some windows (such as a gimp dialog) are treated as "floating" and so not part of a container, but generally the container determines the geometry (ie, starting a terminal in an empty workspace will cause that terminal to be fullscreen ... until some other application is added to that workspace (and so, dependent on the container layout, the workspace is split, stacked, tabbed). I guess what I mean to say is that --geometry is somewhat of a non-tiled metaphor.

1clue wrote:
Multiple 'desktops' so you can switch between groups of apps.

Yes, in i3's parlance these are "workspaces".

1clue wrote:
Ability to have an app default to a certain desktop and/or monitor.

Yes ... eg, ... assign firefox to workspace 2.

Code:
assign [class="(?i)firefox"] 2

1clue wrote:
Good ability to tile apps on a workspace, and zoom whatever one I want when I want.

Yes, you can focus in whatever direction, toggle fullscreen (for the current selection), and switch the container layout (tabbed, stacked, default).

1clue wrote:
Ability to make it pretty minimal, getting rid of features I don't want and keeping the ones I want.

You mean like xft? ... this can be disabled (via the pango useflag, i3's only useflag) .. otherwise i3 has fairly few dependencies above these installed as part of @system and xorg-server:

Code:
% equery -NC depgraph -Al =x11-wm/i3-4.8
 * Searching for i34.8 in x11-wm ...

 * dependency graph for x11-wm/i3-4.8
 [  0]  x11-wm/i3-4.8  x86
 [  1]  dev-libs/libev-4.15-r1  x86
 [  1]  dev-libs/libpcre-8.35  x86
 [  1]  dev-libs/yajl-2.0.4-r3  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/libxcb-1.10  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/libX11-1.6.2  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/startup-notification-0.12  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/xcb-util-0.3.9  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/xcb-util-cursor-0.1.1  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/xcb-util-keysyms-0.3.9  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/xcb-util-wm-0.4.1  x86
 [  1]  x11-libs/pango-1.36.8  x86  [X]
 [  1]  x11-libs/cairo-1.12.16  x86  [X xcb]
 [  1]  virtual/pkgconfig-0-r1  ~x86
 [  1]  dev-lang/perl-5.18.2-r2  x86
 [  1]  dev-perl/AnyEvent-I3-0.150.0  x86
 [  1]  dev-perl/JSON-XS-2.340.0-r1  x86
[ x11-wm/i3-4.8 stats: packages (17), max depth (1) ]

HTH & best ... khay
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went from Kde 3 ==> gnome 2 => ... )> i3wm

I3wm is the smallest thing i found so far. You need to change your behaviour but it benefits at the end as there is no fuzzy thing around.

kde has qt
gnome / lxde has gtk
others use one or the other usually.

Although i use i3wm i have both gtk+ / qt installed here because of k3b, nemo file manager ...

You may decide which apps you need first and than figure out what desktop you need.

You can also set up something from scratch but I doubt you will get much funcitonality without qt / gtk+ these days. As said it depends on your work case.
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1clue
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been a really long time since I messed with a gui on Gentoo. 'What I use now' is tmux.

I suspect I'll get along with i3. It was one of the few options before I started this thread, I just wanted to hear what else might be out there that people are enthusiastic about.

Still interested in hearing other options.

Thanks everyone.
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initman
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What you have described is Xmonad, right down to the last line.

xmonad.org
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schorsch_76
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i3 supports multiple monitors without any trouble. Your requirements seems to be exactly fullfilled with i3.

I use it since over a year and i would not give it away anymore. ;)
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just for your information: I added a few shortcuts which simpified my life.

Code:

# shortcuts
bindsym $mod+F1 exec firefox
bindsym $mod+F2 exec thunderbird
bindsym $mod+F3 exec gimp
bindsym $mod+F4 exec thunar
bindsym $mod+F5 exec eclipse-bin-4.2

bindsym $mod+Shift+F10 exec i3lock -c 000000 && sudo pm-suspend
bindsym $mod+Shift+F11 exec i3lock -c 000000 && sudo pm-hibernate
bindsym $mod+Shift+F12 exec sudo shutdown -h now

# screenshot
bindsym Print exec "scrot ~/`date +%Y-%m-%d_%H:%M:%S`.png"

exec setxkbmap de

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Roman_Gruber
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you may find this useful

I added some basic features which i missed from my old gnome 2.0 days.

I stick to google-chrome, nemo as file manger, k3b is rarely used to burn discs.

Code:
cat .i3/config
# This file has been auto-generated by i3-config-wizard(1).
# It will not be overwritten, so edit it as you like.
#
# Should you change your keyboard layout somewhen, delete
# this file and re-run i3-config-wizard(1).
#

#set kayboard german layout
exec setxkbmap de
#start the screensaver damon, xscreensaver is the featurerichst one
exec xscreensaver

#set modifier and l button as locking the screensaver
bindsym $mod+l exec xscreensaver-command --lock

#set modifier and e button to run xfe, the file manager
bindsym $mod+e exec nemo --no-desktop

# i3 config file (v4)
#
# Please see http://i3wm.org/docs/userguide.html for a complete reference!

#set the modifier button to the windows button
set $mod Mod4

# Font for window titles. Will also be used by the bar unless a different font
# is used in the bar {} block below. ISO 10646 = Unicode
font -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--13-120-75-75-C-70-iso10646-1
# The font above is very space-efficient, that is, it looks good, sharp and
# clear in small sizes. However, if you need a lot of unicode glyphs or
# right-to-left text rendering, you should instead use pango for rendering and
# chose a FreeType font, such as:
# font pango:DejaVu Sans Mono 10

# Use Mouse+$mod to drag floating windows to their wanted position
floating_modifier $mod

# start a terminal
bindsym $mod+Return exec lilyterm
#i3-sensible-terminal

# kill focused window
bindsym $mod+Shift+q kill

# start dmenu (a program launcher)
bindsym $mod+d exec dmenu_run
# There also is the (new) i3-dmenu-desktop which only displays applications
# shipping a .desktop file. It is a wrapper around dmenu, so you need that
# installed.
# bindsym $mod+d exec --no-startup-id i3-dmenu-desktop

# change focus
bindsym $mod+Left focus left
bindsym $mod+Down focus down
bindsym $mod+Up focus up
bindsym $mod+Right focus right

# move focused window
bindsym $mod+Shift+j move left
bindsym $mod+Shift+k move down
bindsym $mod+Shift+l move up
bindsym $mod+Shift+ö move right
#bindsym $mod+Shift+semicolon move right

# alternatively, you can use the cursor keys:
bindsym $mod+Shift+Left move left
bindsym $mod+Shift+Down move down
bindsym $mod+Shift+Up move up
bindsym $mod+Shift+Right move right

# split in horizontal orientation
bindsym $mod+h split h

# split in vertical orientation
bindsym $mod+v split v

# enter fullscreen mode for the focused container
bindsym $mod+f fullscreen

# change container layout (stacked, tabbed, toggle split)
bindsym $mod+s layout stacking
bindsym $mod+w layout tabbed
#changed from button e to x, because I need e to start an explorer
bindsym $mod+x layout toggle split

# toggle tiling / floating
bindsym $mod+Shift+space floating toggle

# change focus between tiling / floating windows
bindsym $mod+space focus mode_toggle

# focus the parent container
bindsym $mod+a focus parent

# focus the child container
#bindsym $mod+d focus child

# switch to workspace
bindsym $mod+1 workspace 1:Shell
bindsym $mod+2 workspace 2:Web
bindsym $mod+3 workspace 3
bindsym $mod+4 workspace 4
bindsym $mod+5 workspace 5:Firefox
bindsym $mod+6 workspace 6
bindsym $mod+7 workspace 7
bindsym $mod+8 workspace 8
bindsym $mod+9 workspace 9:Music
bindsym $mod+0 workspace 10

# move focused container to workspace
bindsym $mod+Shift+1 move container to workspace 1:Shell
bindsym $mod+Shift+2 move container to workspace 2:Web
bindsym $mod+Shift+3 move container to workspace 3
bindsym $mod+Shift+4 move container to workspace 4
bindsym $mod+Shift+5 move container to workspace 5:Firefox
bindsym $mod+Shift+6 move container to workspace 6
bindsym $mod+Shift+7 move container to workspace 7
bindsym $mod+Shift+8 move container to workspace 8
bindsym $mod+Shift+9 move container to workspace 9:Music
bindsym $mod+Shift+0 move container to workspace 10

# reload the configuration file
bindsym $mod+Shift+c reload
# restart i3 inplace (preserves your layout/session, can be used to upgrade i3)
bindsym $mod+Shift+r restart
# exit i3 (logs you out of your X session)
bindsym $mod+Shift+e exec "i3-nagbar -t warning -m 'Do you really want to exit i3 and end your X session.' -b 'Yes, exit i3' 'i3-msg exit'"

# resize window (you can also use the mouse for that)
mode "resize" {
        # These bindings trigger as soon as you enter the resize mode

        # Pressing left will shrink the window’s width.
        # Pressing right will grow the window’s width.
        # Pressing up will shrink the window’s height.
        # Pressing down will grow the window’s height.

        bindsym Left resize shrink width 2 px or 2 ppt
        bindsym Down resize grow height 2 px or 2 ppt
        bindsym Up resize shrink height 2 px or 2 ppt
        bindsym Right resize grow width 2 px or 2 ppt

        # back to normal: Enter or Escape
        bindsym Return mode "default"
        bindsym Escape mode "default"
}

bindsym $mod+r mode "resize"

# Start i3bar to display a workspace bar (plus the system information i3status
# finds out, if available)
bar {
        status_command i3status
}


#Alternatively you can change to your target workspace with i3-msg then have your frequently used programs start automatically with the exec command:
#Names Worksspace 1 to 1:Shell and starts lilyterm terminal emulator

exec --no-startup-id i3-msg 'workspace 1:Shell; exec /usr/bin/lilyterm'
#exec --no-startup-id i3-msg 'workspace 2:Web; exec /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable'
#exec --no-startup-id i3-msg 'workspace 3:Libreoffice';exec /usr/bin/libreoffice


#The key shortcuts are likely called XF86AudioRaiseVolume, XF86AudioLowerVolume, XF86AudioMute. Since only the mute is broken concentrate
#your efforts on changing that out first.

#toggle master mute of the pulsaudio master: amixer set Master toggle
bindsym XF86AudioMute exec "amixer set Master toggle"

#rise master volume of pulseaudio master
bindsym XF86AudioRaiseVolume exec "amixer set Master unmute; amixer -c 0 set Master 1dB+"

#lower master volume of pulseaudio master
bindsym XF86AudioLowerVolume exec "amixer set Master unmute; amixer -c 0 set Master 1dB-"

#screenshot_old_command
#bindsym $mod+F12 exec "xwd -root -display :0.0|convert xwd:- screenshot.png"

#screenshot commands
bindsym $mod+F12 exec "scrot '%d.%m.%Y_%H.%M_screenshot.png' -e 'mv $f ~/Screenshots/'"


#bindsym $mod+hotkey\ ATKD\ 0000006b exec " if [ $(synclient -l | grep TouchpadOff | awk '{print $3}') == 1 ] ; then synclient touchpadoff=0; else  synclient touchpadoff=1; fi "


#not working print key, also Print doesnt works
#bindsym XF86Print exec "scrot '%d.%m.%Y_%h.%m_screenshot.png' -e 'mv $f ~'
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1clue
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might find that useful.

It seems I need to recompile my kernel (it's been a long time anyway) and get support for my video card. I try to start i3 and it can't find any displays.

I had/have a pretty minimal kernel, gotta add stuff in anyway for the new setup. For example I just got a new c2758 board and it uses IPMI, and can boot off the network but only from a Windows share. Who knew? So I gotta enable that, and a video card, and all that stuff.

Been putting it off for way too long anyway.

I've installed i3 and will try out Xmonad too, I've never heard of it before.

Thanks, still watching and listening.
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Ant P.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been using E17 for a few years, it does most of what you want.

Not sure about multiple desktops (KDE and Compiz seem to have that kind of setup, but this only has a flat 2D grid of workspaces). I use tiling all the time even though it has its bugs (maybe they fixed it in E18/19). The ability to have workspace switching independently per-monitor is something I can't live without.

As for minimal, this is the WM that took over 10 years to release because they were constantly rewriting to reduce its resource usage...

Can't really recommend things for apps, but I use urxvt, mpv, and command line tools for most of the rest.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ant P. wrote:
(...)
As for minimal, this is the WM that took over 10 years to release because they were constantly rewriting to reduce its resource usage...
(...)


Well, switched to E18 and I'm almost satisfied with it... although I miss engage module (a little port wouldn't hurt, but somebody has to do it.)
I'am not sure about the focus of E devs anymore... they do take a little care to avoid unecessary bloat and resources usage.
However, the EFL merge move (merge many _lightweight_ library packages... into a monster single package); Wayland focus (logind dependency) are... a little to be desired. Of course, compiling Wayland out is easy now--but it does not single out the development focus on it.

They, the devs, did make an effort to get a usable toolkit ELM(elementary+EWE(ELM Widgets)) that can be used in a similar maner like gtk or qt--making UI port easy enough.

So, not sure... sticking to <EFL-1.12+E18 for now, although I'm intreseted in ELM/EFL-1.12 for the... (updated) toolkit (to make a few UI ports.)

EDIT: And the devs are _explicitly_ comparing terminology (EFL terminal) to Urxvt on releases... to _stress_ the resources usage concerns.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terminology is laughable. I tried it for a day, uninstalled it because my laptop's fans wouldn't spin down.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not against new technology, but I'm definitely against feature creep where no feature was missing.

The point of this whole box (and thus my window manager install) is to get work done without a lot of drama.

My impression of E is years old, but when I used it it was so crammed full of bells and whistles that I'm really not all that interested.

I'm mostly trying to get rid of a mouse here. I obviously need one for apps like firefox but in terms of moving and resizing windows I definitely like the i3 demos out there.

My project is going much slower than I'd like it to, I still haven't gotten around to compiling video card drivers into my kernel. I have i3 installed but without the driver it won't start for lack of screens detected.

Thanks again.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1clue wrote:
I'm mostly trying to get rid of a mouse here. I obviously need one for apps like firefox but in terms of moving and resizing windows I definitely like the i3 demos out there.

1clue ... I function petty much without a mouse/trackpad ... you can control firefox exclusively from the keyboard using pentadactyl or vimperator ... I haven't used a mouse so far for this reply: F 3 ... f 7 ... cntl-i ... (edit in terminal/vim) :wq! ... tab ... f 2.

best ... khay
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Need lightweight multi-monitor keyboard oriented environ Reply with quote

1clue wrote:


I installed i3 once on a lark, it seemed OK but had to do real work before I got used to it so I uninstalled. This could still be an option, I don't know if it supports multiple monitors though.


To my knowledge, i3 is the Cadillac of tiling window managers. I'm not saying it's the best, but if you are looking for something that DOESN'T require a lot of configuring straight out of the box, i3 is probably the way to go. Personally it's my favorite because its more of a very minimal tiling desktop environment as opposed to the other tiling WM's out there which are largely incomplete.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Need lightweight multi-monitor keyboard oriented environ Reply with quote

1clue wrote:
Apps/features I would like to have without getting into gnome/kde projects:

  1. An extremely good terminal. I live there.
  2. Firefox. Sorry, it's literally a requirement by name for my work. I'll use other html5 capable browsers too, with and without javascript support.
  3. A really good file browser, again hopefully with good keyboard support.
  4. A good video player, possibly a firefox plugin or plugins.
  5. Skype and join.me and Webex, all with audio/video/desktop sharing would be great, but I think I'm SOL there.
  6. Support for sublime text 2, but I think that's not a big problem.
  7. A good sound control panel and mixer without the need for pulseaudio.
  8. Good task manager/cpu load/network load/etc style app or apps.

1. x11-terms/st
3. app-text/ranger
4. media-video/mpv
8. sys-process/htop
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