The Setup

With apologies to the real “The Setup.

I posted my new desktop yesterday, and figured, in the spirit of sharing, it would be a good idea to write down how it’s setup. As much for myself (if I ever need to rebuild) as for anyone else.

This setup could be good for anyone running on an old/low power machine. I’ve gone for an “as light as possible” system, while still being functional and nice to use.

As I mentioned, I’m running Arch Linux, so packages are the Arch versions. Where I can, I’m linking to any Arch Wiki pages rather than the package themselves, as if you run Arch, you owe it to yourself to read the awesome wiki. You should be able to find most for the version of Linux you’re running.

Foundations

The majority of these can be installed using pacman, the Arch package tool. Some of these are in the AUR though, so you should use an AUR helper to install them.

Configuration

I’ve put my main UI-related configuration files on GitHub. Below are some direct links to the main files, and any applicable notes.

  • Openbox – rc.xml, autostart, menu-icons.xml
  • compton.conf – this one does contain a setting very specific to my laptop, as it works off screen-resolution. I’ve set shadow-exclude to exclude any maximised window, so the shadows don’t overlap the panels at the top and bottom of my screen. You can adjust this to suit your screen resolution by following the comments in the file.
  • Tint2 – tint2rc
  • Conky – .conkyrc
  • Xorg – .xinitrc, .Xresources

Key-bindings

My rc.xml contains quite a few key-bindings, so I can access common commands/applications without using the menu. For example, my web browser is on Super-W (Super == “super” key, aka the Windows key on most keyboards), taking a screenshot of a region of the screen is Super-Shift-F42, etc. I even have some nice features such as “Aero Snap” to the sides of the screen. Take a look at the keyboard section of the file to see them all.

Other Applications

On top of the foundation I’m running a few extra applications to complete my desktop experience.

  • Nitrogen – managing desktop wallpaper. Currently set to [this one][wall].
  • PcMan File Manager – file browser
  • Xarchiver – Handling zip files, etc. I initially used File-Roller, but it looked terrible.
  • Viewnior – image viewer
  • Evince – Document viewer (PDFs, etc)
  • Scrot – taking screenshots
  • Chromium – Web browser. I’ve set it to use the system GTK theme, rather than its’ own UI style. I’m half-heartedly looking for something lighter, but I like my Google account sync (in absence of a nicer/easier cross-platform password sync + auto-fill), and a few of the extensions I’m running. However, feel free to recommend a lightweight alternative in the comments.
  • Terminator – Terminal, though I might change this once I get (finally) accustomed to screen or tmux.

Fonts with Infiniality

Out-of-the-box font rendering on Linux can be pretty poor (though it is a million times better than it used to be), but it’s possible to make it pretty darn good by installing an optimised set of libraries known as the Infiniality Bundle. The instructions can be found on this Arch Wiki page. Once installed as per those instructions, I installed the optimised versions of Source Code Pro using the command pacman -S ttf-source-code-pro-ibx.


  1. Yes, there are lighter Window Managers, such as Awesome, but I’ve yet to find one which I like as much as Openbox. 
  2. In honour of Cmd-Shift-F4 in OSX.