[nSLUG] KDE 3.x on Squeeze - Trinity anyone?

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Thu Feb 17 03:40:10 AST 2011


I'm like Ted: I have ~55 firefox tabs open right now. But I've got
them spread between only two actual windows. I would think nothing of
opening another couple of dozen tabs -- this is typical. When I'm
ebaying, I may middle-click tab-open many links before I check them
out. I've also got only 2GB of RAM. (slack64-13.0 core2duo)

My PC at work struggles with probably close to 100 tabs. I discovered
a bug -- I'm not sure if it's in firefox or gnome, but when the tab
list menu is longer than the screen, it scrolls. Sometimes, even when
I can make it scroll down, something keeps resetting it to the top, so
I can't click on any tab past the bottom of the screen. And sometimes
moving the firefox window around a little bit will avoid the
scroll-reset problem, but more likely I give up. So instead I often
click the first tab, then press Ctrl-Shift-Tab to cycle around to the
end of the list. Crazy, I know.

I like tabs because I don't like having a huge number of windows in my
window list. But otherwise, I work with virtual desktops (as they're
called in fvwm). This desktop is email and browsing, that one is
coding, this one is work email, etc.

I can't STAND being forced to use Ctrl-Alt-left/right to switch
virtual desktops in gnome. I think the pager apps in gnome and almost
all other common desktops are almost completely useless. In fvwm (my
home desktop), the pager shows you miniature windows in it. The active
one is highlighted. Hover over any window and its title appears in a
tooltip. You can middle-click and drag the miniature windows from one
desktop to another, in the pager -- without ever seeing the actual
window! Or you can drag a window out of the pager and into the current
desktop. You can middle-click on a window to cause it to receive
keyboard focus -- even if that window is on another desktop! Of course
you can left-click to switch desktops, but you can also right-click to
place the 'viewport' at any arbitrary position, perhaps straddled over
multiple desktops.

I can flip desktops with the keyboard (I use Ctrl-left/up/right/down)
or with the mouse. The percent movement can be configured; some months
ago I changed from my default for the mouse from 100% (complete page
flip) to 5%. So I get an enormous virtual desktop that side-scrolls
when I move the mouse past the edge. I haven't quite decided whether
to keep it yet or not.

I tried out KDE 4 when I installed a system with it for a friend. At
first I found it completely frustrating. I quickly searched for and
implemented the pseudo-compatibility "cheat", once again allowing
icons to be placed on the desktop. After quite a bit of reading I
finally felt that I grokked the concepts the new interface is designed
around, and appreciated the attempt they have made. For all the people
who complain: "Why doesn't the Linux crowd ever *innovate*, instead of
just copying Windows and Mac?" -- KDE 4 is a good attempt.
Unfortunately it is difficult for the ordinary person to get what
they're trying to do (case in point: I no longer remember the concepts
I claim to have understood!)

I've never been a fan of KDE (we let you configure everything that
doesn't matter!) or Gnome (we configure everything for you. Sit still,
this won't hurt a bit...) What do you mean, I can't move a window UP
past the menu bar?! <sigh> (Yes, I know they've improved).

So some years ago I decided to create my ideal environment in fvwm,
and coded an fvwm config file from scratch. As I don't like gazillions
of windows cluttering up my window list, if I had to have many of the
same type of window (e.g. monitoring terminals) I would probably apply
the 'WindowListSkip' style to their class or some such thing. Of
course then 'alt-tab' or however you invoke your window list (and the
taskbar, if you have one, but I don't) wouldn't show those windows at
all. (And as I don't have an iconbox, I once 'lost' a window; I
accidentally minimized a window with Style 'WindowListSkip'!)

I wrote some small fvwm functions to make window bookmarks. I click
the 'bookmark window' menu item, and then click a target window. (I
could just as easily have assigned a keyboard shortcut to bookmark the
currently active window). Then I can always get back to that window
(even if it's moved desktops or is minimized) by clicking its title in
the bookmarks menu. I never got around to writing a 'remove from
bookmarks' function (it seemed too hard) so there's just 'clear all
bookmarks'. They get cleared when you end your session in any case.

Alternately you could use the window title bars themselves as "menu"
items. Keep them all windowshaded and (if available) have the window
manager 'tile' them all in one desktop. Then just un-shade the one you
want to work with.

I just read in the fvwm man page that the window list has an
'OnlySkipList' option (or 'OnlyListSkip', there appears to be a
contradiction). The idea is:
If you wanted to use the WindowList as an icon manager, you could
invoke the following:

WindowList OnlyIcons, Sticky, OnTop, Geometry

(Note - the Only options essentially wipe out all other ones... but
the OnlyListSkip option which just causes WindowList to only consider
the windows with WindowListSkip style.)

So you could use a separate WindowList instance to hold only the
windows NOT in the regular (e.g. alt-tab, taskbar, etc) window list.
And since fvwm can be configured on the fly, it could be possible to
click or use a key combo to toggle a particular window's style on or
off, in to the special, or 'skip' windowlist.

Just some ideas, and some promotion for fvwm. It's certainly NOT
flashy. It's functional. I'll never say I've finished my "ideal window
manager environment", but rather I just stopped working on it when it
was "good enough". Or perhaps the intervals between instances when I
am compelled to tweak it or add a feature have become measured in


On 16 February 2011 23:57, D G Teed <donald.teed at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 11:33 PM, Ted Tibbetts <intuited at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Actually, I would have expected there to be an option somewhere in the
>> GNOME preferences for this, probably in the Desktop applet.  These people
>> seem to think it's possible, unless I've misunderstood the point entirely,
>> or it's an ubuntu-specific enhancement (which seems
>> unlikely): http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=472291
> Thanks, this works for gnome.
> It isn't obvious where this is.  In the bottom left corner of the screen,
> you've got the widget to "hide all windows and show the desktop".
> To the right of that, before your first open task, is three vertical dots.
> Right click on this small region and it has "Preferences" as an option.
> Now I select "Always group windows".  That is exactly what I wanted.
> Unbelievable they bury this and don't include it in the Gnome Control Panel.
> Thanks again.  One less problem...
> --Donald
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