I’ve been trying out an old Linux favourite of mine from a few years back on my 701: the Fluxbox window manager. I gained some experience with Fluxbox from experimenting with the DSL “lightweight” live Linux CD, and there’s a lot about the window manager that I like—in fact, I’ve never really forgiven DSL for dumping Fluxbox for a rival which somehow manages to make even fvwm95 look classy (but I’ll stop there in case I get flamed ;)).
Fluxbox is a fast, lightweight window manager for X11, with a “minimalist” look which I think lends itself well to small displays and lower-powered PCs—both of which may give you an idea why I’m trying it on my 701 🙂 It’s not difficult to add to the “stock” Xandros OS; these instructions for installing Fluxbox on the Eee were enough for me, though my experience with DSL a few years ago did help dispel any “culture-shock”.
The screenshot on this page gives you an idea of how Fluxbox looks “out of the box” (as it were). In this picture, the desktop is very “minimalist”, if not plain; however, if you like your “eye candy”, Fluxbox can cater for it with some setting-up, which I’ve yet to do.
Hopefully, you can see that Fluxbox doesn’t follow the all-conquering “MS Windows-like” look as so many window managers for Linux seem to. Instead, Fluxbox appears more like GUIs such as NeXTSTEP and AfterStep, with features including a “right-click” command menu, virtual workspaces and a “dock” (known in Fluxbox lingo as the “slit”, into which small graphical applications can be inserted.
This screenshot shows the following:
- The “right-click menu” in its “default” (i.e. just activated) state. From here, you can launch applications, customise Fluxbox’s views and settings, shut down the system, and more.
- A system toolbar at the bottom of the screen. This one is set up to switch workspaces, show apps running in the workspace, display various “tray” utilities, and show the time. However, you can customise the contents, and create another bar at the top or side, as you wish.
- A uxterm (terminal app). I have set up one of Fluxbox’s features—”grouping” of application windows—so that all uxterm windows will be “tabbed” in the same window frame (though this is not visible here).
- GKrellM (graphical system monitor)—this is loaded into the “slit” in the top-right, and displays various items of system information, including CPU load, disk and network usage, and uptime. (In case you wondered, the “water-and-rubber-duck” image is a GKrellM “plugin”, based on the “dockapp” WMBubble—it displays CPU load, free memory and network traffic.)
I have only just started to explore third-party themes for Fluxbox—the one in the screenshot is from the set which comes with the program—but so far I think this window manager really suits the 701. It’s lean, fast, intuitive (well, it makes sense to me, anyway ;)), it gives the machine a new look, and so far, it “just works”.
I’ll post some more screenshots here if I get any good ones, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for something different to “hot-rod” your Linux Eee, you could do worse than take a look at Fluxbox.