NoDE - life without a desktop environment


I started using Linux, and, presumably, fvwm, back in something like 1993. Around 2000 I got an Apple Cube, with Mac OS X 10.0, because it looked nice but still had Unix and a terminal :slight_smile:

Anyway, now I’m finally as fed up with Apple as one can get and have installed Linux Mint/Xfce on my MacBook Pro, and, of course, I’d like to use fvwm again.

Reading about the various distributions, desktop environments and “graphical shells” (WTF is that?), I think I’d rather avoid all the pain and stupidity and use fvwm without any desktop environment or (session management) at all. I used to be happy having a few xterms, gimp, netscape and acroread open and didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything.

However, I do like to feel informed, so what useful and important things do I miss out on if I go ahead and try to purge Xfce and install fvwm?

I don’t use file managers since ls, grep and find are so much better. I used to be capable of mounting a CD on my own. I don’t need a Dustbin on my desktop, since I know about rm. Ok, I admit I did recently create a .wav file and double-clicked on the icon in my home directory and some application sprung up and just played it. So that was nice, but I expect I could find a command line utility to play audio files…

What you’ll miss? Short answer: nothing! Just do it!
Have you got a reasonable configuration file? I could give you mine, but it is very complex, full of sophisticated functions.
You won’t have all those usual desktop tools like calendar application, network connection management etc., but firstly you can procure these separately if you wish, as standalone programs, secondly it seems to me that you don’t appreciate them.
To be able to click and just play a (sound) file is just a question of a file manager. I also prefer the command line in general, but some things are very comfortable with a file manager, e.g. when one wants to browse a large directory tree of unknown files, opening dozens of them by mouse click and closing them immediately again, “just looking”.
Oh, and, drag and drop won’t be there, but you know that.

Have fun!

Well, I’ve always been on Suse Linux since when I left “true” Unix and never used “desktop environments” (like the terribly heavy KDE which comes with Suse … I only use its utility kdiff3 for graphical file comparison). I always used fvwm. I recently reshuffled my configuration and described my experience in thread viewtopic.php?f=39&t=3066

A small warning, some applications (browsers of the mozilla strain, acrobat, open office) depends on some “desktop environment” thing for their basic look and feel, but it is easy to fudge them (hints in same post quoted above)

I am also very happy without a desktop environment or a display manager. At home, I automatically log into a virtual console and start X on login. I can drag-and-drop between, for example, browser and libreoffice and I use PCManFM to drag-and-drop files into applications. There is nothing I particularly miss.


I guess most people just need “new” things that look playful. (And distract.)
Planned obsolescence.

P.S.: FVWM luckily is not “stabilised” yet, I’m sure :slight_smile:

:smiley: :slight_smile: :smiley: :slight_smile:

And with a strategy, llike moving from Xlib to XCB!

@ mimosinnet
Thanks for the interesting link!

Indeed it’s a big problem that there is no really usable default config.
However, it’s not only about the config. There are some other problems in that context that make FVWM unsuitable to the non-nerdy user. Imho FVWM is so good and directed to practical useability instead of depending on regular optical revampings to push new versions, that it deserves to get some improvements that make it suitable for the non-technical user, too.
I have been working for a few weeks on a project that goes into this direction. I expect it to be progressed so far that I can post some screenshots and put the files onto sourceforge in about two, three weeks. It makes little use to write about it for now, as a few pictures will tell much more than long texts can. I hope it will be a really useful contribution to FVWM.

swapping :smiley:

At work I use a DE, but everywhere else fvwm2. The only weird thing is a proprietary application I use at work. it has a very minor focus issue unless executed in that specific DE, strange.

BTW, these days @ work we are encouraged to use the DE that comes standard with the distro installed on my workstation. But in reality there is nothing I miss and like you I never use a file manager, just ls and friends.

Well, the problem lies within such niceties as shutting the computer down, or mounting drives…

Especially mounting of usb devices is a major pain in the back. I can’t count how often I had to rewrite scripts in reaction to the coming and going of halevt, ivman, policykit…

But then again, when it works it works, and I have no strange daemons running in the back or reporting y searches to amazon… (ever used unity ? Piece of $%§$%).

In the sudoers file, add a line like me t61 = NOPASSWD: /sbin/shutdown, /bin/systemctl poweroff (replacing “me” and “t61” with your userid and machine name, of course). Then in your .tcshrc (or equivalent for other shells) make an alias “alias shut ‘sudo systemctl poweroff’”. Then shutdown is just a matter of typing “shut” from a command line. I suppose you could call the command from a menu, too, though I’ve never tried it.

One problem is that with tcsh, at least, you need to exit terminal windows before shutting down, or your command history gets corrupted. But that’s true of any shutdown method, I think.

I am also a long time fvwm user.

Here are some of the things that I need from “modern desktop”:

  1. Sound level adjustment
  2. Connecting to various networks
  3. Log out and change user
  4. Switching keyboard layout for various human languages that I use.
  5. Using the official Applications menu

This is why I am asking how to correctly integrate fvwm with Gnome session in Ubuntu 14.04.

There is actually all sorts of ways you can do this. Add gnome-settings-daemon to .fvwm2rc start up line (or unity-settings-daemon if you are on vanilla Unity). With that you get all the gtk settings. Install something like stalonetray and have it swallowed in FvwmButtoms and you can access your mixer, wireless, etc.

There are a ton of ways of doing this.