Wednesday, August 24, 2005

IceWM and ROX

With an old PC (Pentium II), minimum RAM (256 MB) and low hard drive space (8 GB for OS as well as my personal files) available to me I needed to install a Linux-based distro that:

  1. Is fast
  2. Is lightweight
  3. Has large collection of programs pre-packaged so that I can save space and time by not installing compilers
  4. Is customizable
The choice was obvious - Debian Sarge 3.1. Fortunately with the new installer I was finally able to get this release of Debian installed with complete hardware support.

But to get my PC to run applications fast I still needed to make some choices regarding my Window Manager and file explorer. Being frugal I chose IceWM ( - ugly but the fastest on my machine that I have tried - and I have tried all the ones listed here and settled on IceWM based on speed, lightweight, is not butt-ugly while providing all keybindings as Windows does) and ROX-Filer ( ROX-Filer is more than a file-explorer as you can well make out from but is fast and lightweight. It also provides a desktop root as well as a button panel. If you think this is still too much extra addons then try Xfe ( / I personally did not like how Xfe handled MIME-settings as it required me to select each time what program was needed to open a filetype. Dont know if that was my fault.

Now unfortunately the two (ROX and IceWM) dont quite play well together. IceWM likes to treat ROX as just another application requiring management as a window rather than as a panel (run as "rox -b=PANEL") that I use it as all the time. But I found this tidbit in ROX's help manual that seemed to help somewhat.

IceWM and ROX

Paste these configuration settings into `~/.icewm/preferences':

     # Manage root window (EXPERIMENTAL - normally enabled!)
GrabRootWindow=1 # 0/1
# Bitmask of root window button click to use in window manager
UseRootButtons=3 # [0-255]
# Desktop mouse-button click to show the menu
DesktopWinMenuButton=1 # [0-20]
# Desktop mouse-button click to show the window list
DesktopWinListButton=2 # [0-5]
# Desktop mouse-button click to show the window list menu
DesktopMenuButton=0 # [0-20]

Paste these into `~/.icewm/winoptions':

     # ROX-Filer pinboard and panel
ROX-Filer.icon: folder
ROX-Panel.layer: Dock
ROX-Panel.doNotCover: 1
ROX-Panel.ignoreWinList: 1
ROX-Panel.ignoreTaskBar: 1
ROX-Panel.ignoreQuickSwitch: 1
ROX-Pinboard.layer: Below
ROX-Pinboard.ignoreWinList: 1
ROX-Pinboard.ignoreTaskBar: 1
ROX-Pinboard.ignoreQuickSwitch: 1
ROX-Filer.layer: Normal

Restart IceWM and the filer for the new settings to take effect.

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