My Current Linux Desktop


My Linux Desktop“; Jan 22, 2016;  image by (©:2016) me.
For those of you who are curious as to what my desktop looks like, this is it.  I posted this to Flickr the other day as my entry in response to an article on Lifehacker inviting people to share their Linux desktops.  As you can see, it’s somewhat “old-school” looking, since my computer (Dell Latitude D620 laptop) is somewhat old and limited in it’s power and speed.  I use the ancient Afterstep window-manager, which is fairly lean and mean, compared to “modern” desktops such as KDE and Gnome, which are absolute hogs on this hardware!  I’ve looked into switching into one of the more modern lean window-managers, such as Fluxbox, Xfce, or Icewm, but I’m used to Afterstep and would have to give up some of the features it offers.  Afterstep has a few annoying bugs / quirks, but the two reasons I stick with it are:  1)  It has “Wharf”, a Window-Maker-based launcher app. that not only provides for launch buttons, but can also “swallow” Window-maker “dock-apps”.  I wrote a dock-app years ago called “TkWeather” that can scrape three different weather sites and provide current weather info. dynamically in an icon that can be clicked on to see more information or double-clicked to pull up the full weather website.  I tried to get it to run in Fluxbox’s “slit”, but have been unable to do so.  2)  Afterstep requires modifying some text-based configuration files, but I’ve already long ago mastered how to configure Afterstep to look exactly the way I want it, and it would be a steep learning curve to have to re-configure everything the way I like it in another window-manager!  Afterstep gives me everything I want and nothing I don’t.  You can see the “wharf” (vertical row of icons) on the right.  The top button that’s grimacing will pop up an additional row of lesser-used program launch buttons.  The currently running (swallowed) dock-apps are (from top to bottom):  wmitime (clock), (my) TkWeather, wmtemp (cpu tempertures), xload (memory), wmappl (list of many more small icons that can launch apps.), wmMoonClock, and Pager.  The others are just launch button icons for terminal, browser, editors, etc.
As a career programmer, specializing in Perl and Tk, I’ve written some of the applications / tools I use regularly and hacked others.  I guess I’m a control freak and when I have to work with a tool on a daily basis to get work done.  I quickly become aware of how I want it to work to maximize my workflow and I see the shortcomings in whatever I’m using, then search for one that will do what I want to do.  It Seems that in some cases I’ve been unable to find what I’m looking for, so I’ve then written my own.  This was the case with my code editor (E) and file manager (jfm4) (both shown on this desktop image) as well as the weather app (TkWeather).  By writing a tool myself, I control exactly what it does (and doesn’t do), and can adapt it over time to meet changing requirements.  I did not write Fauxdacious, but over the years, I have hacked my favorate all-purpouse audio media player (Audacious) to work better in my environment.  I finally bundled and released all my Audacious hacks together as “Fauxdacious” after adding a VIDEO-playing capability!  As far as themeing goes, Afterstep now supports themes, but I’ve never bothered to bundle the config. files I’ve modified and all the images for release as new “themes”.  I’ve created a few different “theme” configurations that I can switch between when I get tired of one.  With Afterstep, I’ve mastered customizing (the titlebar, the buttons on the titlebar along with their functions) as Afterstep permits you to specify exactly how everything looks.  Then I’ve found themes for Firefox and skins for Fauxdacious/Audacious that closly match.  My favorite color is violet and this is reflected in this desktop.  I used the “Lavafox” theme for Firefox and then created a new “skin” for Fauxdacious/Audacious that I call “Lavadacious” to somewhat match that.  For my Perl/Tk programs, I simiply added “*tkPalette: #160028” and “*tkVpalette: #160028” to my .Xdefaults file.  You can download “Fauxdacious”, “Lavadacious”, “TkWeather”, and many of my other open-source software here at my download site!
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