The only one way to fasten the speed of your machine is buying a new kit. This is what most of the PC manufacturers and vendors use to tell. And again those kits have to be replaced after every eighteen months. In most of the cases, software becomes the main obstacle.

However, if you are a Linux user you must have already discovered some of the lighter options to few of the platform’s bloat fests. You may do these by using Gnumeric and AbiWord instead of OpenOffice.org.

We need to look at the options for the Desktop and to start with we have to see how is the GUI of the Linux are fitted together. So let’s have a look on it.

This is the setup when users run one of the big three desktops i.e. Gnome, KDE, and Xfce. But if you are choosing the options of a standalone window manager or WM, the first and the third layers can be cut from this stack. A window manager more inclined to integrate all of the desktop functionalities into one single executable which do not have any additional programs like file managers.

Well, most of the standalone window managers also do not only depend on a widget toolkit. So instead of depending on the widget toolkit it usually renders their own graphics and then interface straightaway with the X Window System libraries. It helps a lot to keep the consumption of RAM to a very minimum level.

If we use the Ubuntu 8.10, the commands you will need to install three Window Managers via the internet is elaborated here. Click on the Applications, followed by Accessories and then click on Terminal (in Gnome) for entering various commands. After the installation is done do log out and click on the Options and then Select Session to choose the WM which is going to run at the time of log in. Here is how it will be look like:

Fluxbox

  • Raw speed and low dependencies, free up screen space
  • www.fluxbox.org
  • Install on Ubuntu sudo apt-get install fluxbox fluxconf

Starting Fluxbox for the first time, you may probably scratch your head and wondering is this the one.  Fluxbox provides the screen real estate back to you. This will look little horrifying but it is interesting after you get to know it.

Now, you may observe that there are no program menu options to ‘click on’ like Applications in Gnome or the K button in KDE. Even though, you can develop an equivalent menu options by just right click on anywhere on the desktop. This menu would also be containing the submenus for many other program categories. You could also be able to drag those menu options all around the desktop simply by clicking bar on the top. If you do not want these menus at all, that can also be done. For this, you have to right click on the top bar of the menu option.

Now look at the Toolbar which is located at the bottom of your screen. The toolbar only takes two-thirds of the screen’s total width. When you look on to your left, you will find the word ‘one’, which means it is displaying the virtual desktop. You can switch to different desktop by just clicking on the arrows placed on the right side of the word ‘one’.

Now you will see the implementation of the task menu bar. It is almost the same as in the case of Gnome, KDE and Xfce. The programs will be displayed accompanied with their icons. For making it visible on all of the virtual desktops, you have to right-click on the program’s entry to ‘sticky’ the window and then you can perform all other operations.

When you will see to the right side of the task bar area, you can see different pair of arrows, which will allow you to cycle the current running programs. At last there is a clock. You can also build the nature of the toolbar by a simple right click on a non-task bar area. This will bring up a menu which will set the position of the toolbar. Left click for shrinking the width and right click to grow and also you have the option for auto-hide.

How to configure the Fluxbox?

Right-click on the desktop and then go to the Configuration tab. Here you will find the following options:

Focus Model: This will change in both cases, whether you are selecting the windows by clicking on it or you drift over them by mouse.

Tabs Options: In case, you unchecked the Tabs on the Title bar option, it will be easier to group all windows together because every window is having a small tab above the title bar.

Opaque Window Moving: If you move windows, it will automatically draw only the outline of a window. It is by default setting. Ticking to this option will display the contents while moving, however it causes small loss in the performance.

Fine-tuning

Go to the ‘Applications’ tab and then click on ‘Tools’ you will find Fluxconf and Fluxkeys. These are two additional tools for configuration. The Fluxconf consist of many overlaps along with the Configuration submenu. However, if someone is looking for changing something in the desktop, he has to look in to this. And the Fluxkeys are really handy in case somebody likes to determine the key bindings for the closing windows or switching desktops and many more.

Once you are ready with the Fluxbox, well it will take only few hours to get you comfortable with it. Hence, it is recommended to spend some couple of days for letting this simplicity and speed both to soak in.

Ratpoison

  • Eliminate the mouse and save screen space
  • www.nongnu.org/ratpoison
  • Install on Ubuntu sudo apt-get install ratpoison

Mouse is very awkward input device as it becomes most common source of RSI problems.

When you are doing a graphics editing tasks or web browsing, your mouse may not become an obstacle if you keep one hand on the mouse and another one to the keyboard. But situations differ when you start editing some programming or documents. For example, if you want to hit on a menu entry and in case you do not know the shortcut of the keyboard, you have to use this unwanted and irritating piece called mouse.

Ratpoison is being designed to eliminate the job of the mouse in window management. You will not find any title bars for dragging the windows or resizing the handles or any other bits in case you expect it in a traditional window manager.

The main aim behind this is that the operation of any window management performing under a normal setting can be achieved only by using the keyboard. Hence, if you are working on the documents or programming or both, your both hands will never need to leave the keyboard.

Tiling is another option in Ratpoison. As we see that with the regular window managers, we spent more time to juggle with windows to maximize the use of entire screen. Also we try them to align with a minimal overlap such that we can be able to see two programs at the same time. However, lots of time is needed to do so. Hence tiling is the option which is developed in Ratpoison. Tiling actually places and resizes the windows automatically on the screen along with no overlaps.

When you start the Ratpoisons, you will find a terminal window or a blank screen. But if there is no title bars, menus, panels or anything else for the clicking fingers, it looks like it is absolutely not possible for using.

In case you get a blank screen, just hit the Ctrl+T and then C, it will open up a new terminal window. It will occupy the whole screen. Now run any text editor like Gedit or Mousepad and then this program will occupy whole of the real estate of the screen.

By tiling, we can split the screen either vertically or horizontally based on the selected windows during the last time. Now by using Ctrl+T along with the number keys, first you select one window followed by another. After that, hit the Ctrl+T and then S so that it splits the screen horizontally, or else hit Ctrl+T and then Shift+S for splitting it vertically.

You can also switch between the windows in the split using the Ctrl+T and a number as mentioned above, and then select 2 windows for another splitting.

Ratpoison is not worth if you are the person who spend most of the time for graphics programming, but for a coder or a writer, it is absolutely worth for trying it out.

Here are few quick key combos:

Ctrl+T followed by C – Start a new terminal
Ctrl+T followed by W – Showing list of windows
Ctrl+T followed by number – Switch windows
Ctrl+T followed by S/Shift+S – Split last two selected windows vertically or horizontally
Ctrl+T followed by Shift+Q – Show full-screen of current window
Ctrl+T followed by N/P – Switch to next or previous window
Ctrl+T followed by Ctrl+T – Toggle windows (like Alt+Tab on other Window managers or desktops)
Ctrl+T followed by K – Close the current window

Enlightenment

  • Eye candy and power-user functionality
  • www.enlightenment.org
  • Install on Ubuntu sudo apt-get install e16 e16keyedit e16menuedit2 eterm

If you go to the login screen and after you have chosen the ‘Select Session’, you may find 3 options for starting E: with KDE, another one with Gnome, and last one with ‘E16’. E is very flexible to replace the Metacity in case of Gnome or KWin in KDE, but you choose the ‘E16’ option as of now.

Well in the Fluxbox, you use to start the programs by clicking the desktop. However, you need to middle-click so as to bringing up the main menu. In case of Ubuntu this also includes a submenu which is called Debian Menus. It contains all of yours installed applications. And if you do a right click, you will find the Enlightenment Settings menu.

Now launch program by middle clicking and go into the App menu. In window, now you see the pair of boxes when you look in to the bottom left of the desktop. Those are actually the virtual desktop pagers. You have two desktops by default; each one is containing the two workspaces. The best thing here is that these window icons are actually a thumbnail expression of the full window.

When you minimize your window, you will find that it goes into the bottom-right box on the desktop that is the ‘icon box’. It will provide you a thumbnail form of the programs. If you right click on it and choose the ‘Settings’ to enlarge the icons or else you can also set up the vertical list, it is absolutely according to your preferences. It is good that E is very much customizable.

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