Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Unifying my Unix desktop
I have five computers running some kind of free unix-like operating
system and it really started to annoy me, that every single of them
had a different desktop environment:
- I had XFce desktop installed on my PowerMac G5 for quite a long
time and it was fast enough to be used on daily basis with no
hassle. But as I really don't need a full-blown desktop with
graphical file manager and other such stuff, I decided to go back
to window manager I used to use on my last home-built PC twelve
years ago: WindowMaker. It performs much better, especially when
I underclock the machine to 1.3GHz and I really like the NeXT look
and feel, which is mimicked better than in nowadays OS X.
- Lenovo T400 is the fastest of computers I own, so I never really
bothered running anything else than Mint+KDE4 on it, as I did on
my previous PC notebook (HP2530p). But recently I got rid of
Debian based distros and I took the opportunity to get rid of KDE
either. Now it's WindowMaker, configured the same way as on G5.
The big dock icons are consuming larger part of the built-in
display than I like, but I run the T400 mostly in docking station,
connected to a 24" LCD and there it's just perfect.
- Pentium 4 based PC running CentOS and XFce. I tried WindowMaker
on this machine, but as it's remote connection machine physically
residing about 80km from my home, I had to keep it on XFce, because
otherwise TeamViewer (through which I work on this machine) was
crashing constantly for some reason. As the speed of UI is already
degraded with the speed of Internet connection, there is in fact
no need for faster desktop.
- Efika MX Smartbook has screen too tiny, CPU too slow and RAM too
small to waste them with any desktop as such. Therefore I replaced
the Gnome2 with dwm years ago and I'm pretty satisfied with the
performance of this tiny window manager.
- An old PC laptop with default install of OpenBSD, which I keep for
places too dirty or dangerous for the fragile construction of
Efika, had FVWM for some time. I use this machine just a couple of
days in year, so at first I didn't want to bother with a different
window manager, but I replaced the FVWM with dwm and again - it's
quite a upgrade in usability.
So now I have on all machines I use at home (G5 & T400) WindowMaker
and on all portables dwm. T400 can probably be considered as
a portable, but it mostly sits on my table, so it really isn't.
It's far from perfect, but I came to a conclusion, that I just can't
have a single desktop UI. Still, three different desktops
environments are better than five.