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#1 2012-11-16 19:18:51

Registered: 2010-06-23
Posts: 24

DE services without using a DE?

So basically the only applications I use are Firefox, Emacs, and a terminal. The problem is I also like no-nosense wifi (NetworkManager) a nice modern-looking screen locker that can also shut off my laptop screen, a remaining battery indicator, a volume control for pulse audio, and some way to easily mount/unmount external drives. Just the simple parts of gnome panel without the rest of Gnome.

Is there any way to get all this stuff easily working with just a plain 'ol window manager? Like some magical panel that has neatly integrated all this modern Linux desktop plumbing in a smaller package?

It seems everything has become so tightly integrated that I cannot just mix and match separate utilities anymore. I'm not really interested in XFCE (just as crap-filled as Gnome and KDE) and I'd like to avoid Wicd and Xscreensaver, too. (They suck IMO.)

Last edited by oops (2012-11-16 19:32:32)


#2 2012-11-16 22:25:23

From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 14,734

Re: DE services without using a DE?

Openbox.  Stalonetray. 

Screen Locker, no suggestions.

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#3 2012-11-16 23:45:12

Registered: 2012-05-17
Posts: 2,224

Re: DE services without using a DE?

I use uevt for automount, since it also has cpu frequency contro (didn't find that as a separate package, and i'm too lazy yto write it myself) and a battery monitor.
As screen locker I run i3lock (with xautolock as timer) which can power off your screen and only show the (optional) lock image while typing the password.
For volume control I use volumeicon (hotkeys) and pavucontrol as mixer frontend. an alternative is veromix, but you'll have to assign hotkeys manually (maybe with a script using pactl)
For networkmanager, you'll have to run gnome-keyring, the wiki should describe the necessary steps to configure it.

Last edited by progandy (2012-11-16 23:48:38)


#4 2012-11-17 15:46:08

Registered: 2010-10-22
Posts: 2,141

Re: DE services without using a DE?

Screenlocker: slock (personal favorite), slimlock, lualock and i3lock are all available through the AUR.

By the way, you can install the XFCE panel and its applets on their own; no need for the whole DE.


#5 2012-11-17 16:12:38

From: Sweden
Registered: 2010-06-13
Posts: 349

Re: DE services without using a DE?

I'd probably set up an openbox, make a few desktops, have your daily used applications open on them in fullscreen.

For the mount/unmounting part, if you don't fancy manual commandline work, and if you have acess to sudo on your macine,
you might just make a script doing "sudo mount /dev/xxx /mnt/xxx (or /home/mnt/xxx), and make a tray-icon/openbox menu item, executing it.
That might not be too much work,

Myself i use "volumeicon", but i have plain alsa, i don't know if it works with pulseaudio aswell.
And i have openbox keybinds for xf86Raise/xf86lower volume on mod+arrowup/arrowdown for the volume.

Last edited by PReP (2012-11-17 16:15:27)

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#6 2012-11-17 16:49:29

From: Colombia
Registered: 2012-01-18
Posts: 81

Re: DE services without using a DE?

Cinnamon, clean, pure, basic, not needed whole gnome stuff, Give it a try.


#7 2012-11-17 16:59:29

From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: DE services without using a DE?

@JohnnyDeacon, the OP is asking for DE services without a DE, and you recommend Cinnamon?!?!?

@OP, I use i3 mainly, which is in the repos.  It pairs nicely with the i3lock ANOKNUSA mentioned above, and is also int he repos.  I also just use the i3bar with i3status (a bit customized to quit my machine of course), and it works great.  I guess it really depends on what you think is pretty.  But I think my system is fine. 

For mounting, I discovered pmount the other day, which I find incredible because it does not require udisks or udisks2.  It is a simpel wrapper aroud the mount command (thereby also not requiring an autheticated session either I don't think).

I don't use a screensaver or a screen locker, though I did test out i3lock, and it was nice.  I just have dpms timeout blank my screen, and then I have xautolock suspend after 12 minutes.  I also have a small script that makes a pid file for xautolock so that i3bar can determine if it is running or not, and then have a keyboard shortcut to turn the suspend timeout on/off.

I don't know what you mean by no-nonsense, as in my opinion, unless you have some sepcialized use case (ie wwan) network-manager is a whole bunch of nonsense.  I am a netcfg user, and to me that is the least amunt of nonsense you could have.  Just simple bash scripts to do the work for you.  It is easy to configure, and seems super stable.  Also with net-auto-wireless and wpa_actiond, I get proper roaming support, which seems to work amazingly.


#8 2012-11-19 20:05:54

Registered: 2010-06-23
Posts: 24

Re: DE services without using a DE?

WonderWoofy wrote:

@JohnnyDeacon, the OP is asking for DE services without a DE, and you recommend Cinnamon?!?!?

That's a fair reply, I don't think what I was looking for exists. I may give cinnamon a spin.

My issue is that modern DEs feel incomplete or inflexible (Gnome 3) or way too heavy (Gnome and KDE) for what I use. I used to be able to get along just fine with a WM but a lot of Linux desktop plumbing has changed over the years (PolicyKit, NetworkManager, PulseAudio) and it seems it is not easy anymore to use a WM while retaining the convienence of a DE.

EDIT: I'm liking cinnamon so far...

Last edited by oops (2012-11-19 20:24:00)


#9 2012-11-19 21:29:49

Registered: 2011-06-15
Posts: 538

Re: DE services without using a DE?

Do a full Gnome3/Shell installation (to get all the mounting and other backend bling) then remove GnomeShell / Panel / Nautilus / GDM and swap in Openbox/lightDM/Thunar or spaceFM and tint2 - if you want a panel...   Openbox very quickly makes you realise how much of the DE crud you can live without wink


#10 2012-11-19 23:00:01

Registered: 2011-06-11
Posts: 146

Re: DE services without using a DE?

oops wrote:

My issue is that modern DEs feel incomplete or inflexible (Gnome 3) or way too heavy (Gnome and KDE) for what I use.

You could give FVWM a try -  VERY Flexible, light, stable, comes with some optional desktoppish features.
Two caveats: While easy to change, I'm not sure the default look&feel has changed since 1993 - don't reflexively claw your eyes out.
Open-ended configuration makes it easy to implement most things you could want, but even easier to create a glitchy mess.

For something more pedestrian but less fiddly, you could start with LXDE and remove bits you don't want - it's essentially a collection of lightweight tools assembled to something that could pass for a real DE. Its WM, Openbox, is very popular here because it does the basics well, plays nice with most add-ons and has friendly GUI tools for those who want them.
Fluxbox is somewhat similar, but comes with a panel and a very nice implementation of tabbed window management; also worth a try.

For the little other things, I simply use hotkeys or little scripts in my FVWM menu.


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