Ubuntu 19.10 and #icewm

So, I’ve got my new ubuntu version going. Installing took awhile, seemingly longer than what I’m used to. An error was reported during the process. I ignored it, figuring it was not fatal. Fortunately, I was right.

I used to hate Ubuntu’s default desktop. What is it? Unity/GNOME? Now I can grudgingly accept it. It’s not too bad. Ubuntu’s customisation of GNOME is reasonable.

I still think there’s things it doesn’t get right, though. Docks are a bad idea, in my opinion. They waste too much space. Windows 95, with its toolbar, is a far better layout. The title bars are too chunky. The active window has a darker font, but it’s too subtle. Windows 95 solved all this. Inactive windows should have lightly coloured title bars, and the active one should have a dark title bar.

In some ways, theming a windows manager is the easiest thing in the world. It’s about simplicity, about all those little details done right that add up, about evolution, not revolution.  What see, though, is a case of two steps forward, one step back, as designers chase ideas that don’t work, and discard ideas that do work.

There’s probably only one really good interface innovation in a decade.  Most of the rest is just busywork. Desktops were largely a solved problem in 1995, despite it never being the year of Linux On The Desktop since then.

I have tried a few desktops. I think the following are lightweight and serviceable: LXDE, Fluxbox, and Cinnamon. The few times I had tried IceWm I baulked at its aesthetics. But I installed it again, and it’s beginning to grow on me. Let’s face it, it will never be a “gorgeous” desktop. It’s a desktop for those who want an environment that does what it needs to do, and stays out of the user’s way. Actually, IceWm seems to have better ideas about how the windows should be laid out than most WMs.

“Most of the themes look like mad colorings of a third grader,” said one webpage. That was in 2002. Things haven’t gotten much better since then. I find the Windows95 theme to be the best, actually. The wacky aesthetics have been eskewed for a more basic design.

IceWm does need some customisation, I feel. I populated the Quicklaunch tab with choices more to my liking: PCManFM, Firefox, Thunderbird, and xterm. I also made the desktop background a pleasant dark gray, which I prefer over an austere black background.

I would like to figure out how to add a volume control applet to the control panel. That would be a useful feature.

I would also like it if IceWm had aerosnap. I cobbled together a work-alike solution using wmctrl.

The more I use it, the less I tend to care about its fugly 90’s feel. So I think I’ll be sticking around with IceWm. Famous last words.

I did try Enlightenment for a brief spell. It was cutesy. I quickly tired of it, though. I would have to set up the clock a bit better. I’m not a fan of docks. There doesn’t seem to be a Folder icon in the dock. There is one on the desktop, which is a pain in the arse, because it usually obscurred by a window.

I mean, some people will like Enlightenment, and if I stuck with it I’d probably be able to massage it into something much more to my liking. But I didn’t feel inclined.

I am tempted to remove gdm3, the display manager. For some reason, IceWm doesn’t execute the startup file or register the keys when I start it from the display manager. It seems to be OK when I start it from the command-line, though.

There we have it.



About mcturra2000

Computer programmer living in Scotland.
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1 Response to Ubuntu 19.10 and #icewm

  1. Kees Reuzelaar says:

    I’m slowly beginning to realize Gnome doesn’t fit me anymore. They say when you get older you get nostalgic for the experiences of your youth, and I’m seriously considering going back a few decades and switch to CDE for my desktop.

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