My Linux!

I call It LXDE-T (tweaked).

Linux is a wonderful operating system! It is nothing, if not modular. We are not locked into just one desktop environment.   We have choices. If we don’t like the desktop we’re running we can simply install another one. Same with applications.

We also have several distributions to choose from.

My personal favorites are Bodhilinux with the e17 (now forked to the new Moksha) desktop and LXLE (a Lubuntu spin) with the LXDE desktop.

Once we find a distribution and desktop we are okay with, we can usually tweak it to make it even more suitable for our own preferences.

As you can see, both my favorites are Ubuntu based. But as of late, I have had to remove some Ubuntu based distros from several machines due to glitches, mouse and screen freezes. These seem to be my fault for over tweaking them. But I like to tweak.

So, I decided to switch to Debian Testing, hoping it would give me the stability I want, with having newer versions of applications available. It also, has the advantage of  rolling release updates.

Turns out, I chose right for me. But still, I couldn’t find a “Debian Testing” distro, I could download, that contained what I wanted. So, I started from scratch! I started with the Debian net cd, and installed from there.

I installed the LXDE desktop plus my favorite applications, theme and icons. In my efforts to customize it, surprisingly, I haven’t broken it. It seems to be as stable as I could hope for. For me, it was the right choice!

I wanted a desktop that was stable, sleek, simple to use, fast, and would just get out of my way.

Here is what I ended up with!

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I also wanted to get rid of that ” ARG!!!” feeling you get when your trying to get work done, and you get frustrated, because your unfamiliar with your desktop, or things aren’t where you need them, or things just aren’t natural for you. You know, like when you get on someone else’s PC. But unfortunately, it can happen on our own PC, when things aren’t tweaked right for you.

So this is what worked for me.

First, as mentioned above I started with “Debian Testing”. Then I added the LXDE desktop, because it’s easily customized,  it’s light and fast. I didn’t use it, because it’s a resource miser, but more so because, it’s still fast even when bloated).  I already, have learned, from using the LXLE spin of Lubuntu, just how awesome LXDE could be!

To help with the more sleek appearance, I swapped out the lxpanel for  (3) tint2 panels.

I set the first one to have a menu shortcut and clock. The second has a pager/taskbar.

I only run (2) desktops, so this works great for me. It has separate task bars for the 2 desktops.

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You can drag and drop the open apps between them, or click on the desktop names to switch.

The third tint2 panel has a battery meter and system tray.

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Like I said I wanted my desktop to just get out of my way so I used a script to turn off and on the tint2 panel. I then set the script to a hot corner. Since I like having the panel in view most of the time, this manual fix works for me over panel auto-hide.

 

I installed the fehlstart app launcher, for a pop up type application launcher like gnome-do or synapse. Just activate by keyboard/mouse or even hot corner, and start typing the name of your app. I set mine to a keyboard shortcut, and as previously mentioned, a hotcorner with lxlauncher, plus the menu button on the tint2 panel.

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I installed x-tile to mainly provide a window overview, to bring organization for those times I have a bunch of windows opened at the same time. You could also use skippy-xd.

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I installed brightside to enable some custom hot corners.

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-Top Right= Toggle show/hide tint2 panels

-Bottom Right= Activate x-tile (auto tile all)

-Top Left = Toggle show desktop

-Bottom Left = Main menu (lxlauncher + fehlstart)

 

 

I finally found a good use for the lxlauncher. With the help of some script magic, I turned it into a more sleek appearing, main menu. I added fehlstart for application search and launch.

Screenshot from 2015-08-14 10-44-19I made a script that checks if lxlauncher is running and either closes or opens it. And because I don’t know how to make it dynamic, I simply made it close after 45 seconds.

The only thing I could do with the background was to add some transparency. But hey, it does what I need!

 

I wanted conky for weather and system info. But conky doesn’t play nice with the lxde desktop. So to fix this, I docked conky to openbox’s built in dock and set it to hidden, on the desktop’s left side.

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I hacked together a system updater to manually update the system.

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I wanted a dock for launching favorite applications. I wanted to use wbar, but I couldn’t get it to be dynamic. (get out of the way). So I had to use cairo dock, and am very pleased with it.

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For keyboard shortcuts I use obkey.

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I have shortcuts to activate the areosnap  window  control. Plus I added a right and left click for the mouse, so when you right click on the window’s icon, in the window title bar, the window will maximize right and a left click will maximize left.

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Very handy for viewing 2 windows side by side.

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That brings us to file managers.

I’m a big fan of pcmanfm. It’s light and fast and as of late it has been improved to handle actions (right click context menu add ons) and supposedly gvfs. It is also tab and dual pane capable.

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But for me it has a couple of quirks. It will crash if I point it to trash:// applications:// or / . I’ve googled for a solution, but apparently, I’m the only one with this problem. Probably from all my tweaking.

So trash works, but can’t be managed from pcmanfm. Since I use some of nautilus’s add-ons anyway, and I like having a back up file manager, I just created a trash desktop file that uses nautilus to manage the trash. I then install trash-cli and created a pcmanfm action (which is really a nautilus action) to empty the trash.  Trash is also added to conky. So I think I have it covered pretty well.

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Just like nautilus actions you can create actions that only appear when you right click on certain mime types, such as text or office documents, images, folders etc. You can also filter according to folder names and other attributes.

Here are the ones I set to only show on the desktop…

lxde-t-testing9If I left click on an image file I get these options…

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If I click on photoprint…

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Here is what I get for text files…

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Here is a list all of mine…

add/remove printer

add/remove software

change screensaver

movie mode

screensaver on

copy to drive or folder

move to drive or folder

customize theme

edit keyboard shortcuts

empty trash

file system (opens nautilus @ / for pcmanfm work around)

manage fonts

manage trash

open folder as admin

open internet here

Print document

print spreadsheet

resize photos

scan file/folder for virus

send to photoprinter

send to cd/dvd

send to desktop (create shortcut)

send to email

send to imgur

set as wallpaper

Of course these are distributed among a few subcontext menu’s .

You can also use nautilus-actions to create new actions and export them to ./.local/share/file-manager/actions. If it doesn’t exist, simply create the file path.

Well there you have it, the base of “My Linux” . I like to call it LXDE-T (tweaked)

But after all that tweaking, I sure don’t want to have to do it again from scratch!

And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to use it on any compatible pc?  Never to have to get that “ARGH” feeling again?

There is a wonderful solution, and it’s called “systemback“!

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lxde-t-testing9-5Systemback will back up your system, convert it to a live cd-usb, and make it installable on other systems.

lxde-t-testing9-6Just make sure to check any boxes that refer to user data or settings so that your tweaks will be included.

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I about forgot, LXDE has this nice little settings app called default applications for lxsession settings.

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Here you can turn off and on things like the tint2 panel, if you’d want to run another panel instead, or switch back to the lxpanel (via start up apps).

You can also set system defaults as well as other settings.

That’s about it. With some creativity, a few great applications, and a good Linux base, we can tweak ourselves a system we like!

So yes, It is indeed possible to get what you want with Linux.

You can see it in action here.

I know of no other OS that is, as modular, or allows you this much control, over the ability, to have things your way!

Linux is wonderful!

So, thank you, to all of the Linux developers, out there, who make it possible!

That reminds me, it’s time for me, to donate, to a couple of my favorite Linux projects! Hope you will too!

 

Next Up:  Trying to get the Moksha Desktop running on this Debian install.

 

Notes:

 

As this was largely influenced by LXLE, even though I wasn’t aiming for it’s low resource usage, you may notice that one of the backgrounds, and the search page belong to LXLE, along with the mods to seamonkey browser, and the inclusion of fehlstart.  I was introduced to a lot of my “now favorite apps” from using LXLE. The developer has a great knack of finding light, useful programs, such as systemback.

As a result LXLE has provided me with material for several articles, and hours of tinkering with Ubuntu, Debian and LXDE. So, thanks to LXLE, for all the enjoyment!

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