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A Visual Tour of Customizable Linux Desktops

written by: M D Albertson Jr•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 9/24/2011

Linux is known for its customizability, and nothing displays that more than the variety of window managers. Here is a gallery of screenshots from some of the more configurable environments.

  • slide 1 of 28

    Awesome Window Manager

    Awesome Window Manager 

    Awesome is a tiling window manager that allows users to customize themes and keyboard shortcuts through the Lua scripting language. In the example above the user has altered the color scheme to match his wallpaper and set the background of his terminals to be completely transparent.

  • slide 2 of 28

    Awesome Window Manager Themes

    Awesome Window Manager Themes 

    Themes can be changed to compliment the wall paper, and opacity of windows makes it so that the image is present but not interfering with the contents of the windows.

  • slide 3 of 28

    A Transparent Window with an Opaque Window in Awesome

    A Transparent Window with an Opaque Window in Awesome 

    The contents of the transparent terminal window allows the content of the terminal's output to blend with the background creating an interesting image. Whereas the web browser stays completely opaque to maintain the readability of websites.

  • slide 4 of 28

    Configuring Awesome with Lua

    Configuring Awesome with Lua 

    Awesome can be reconfigured using the Lua scripting language. This allows the end-user to change colors as seen on the left as well as change key bindings as seen on the right.

  • slide 5 of 28

    Managing Space in Awesome

    Managing Space in Awesome 

    Awesome is a tiling window manager, which allows its users to arrange the layout of windows on their screen via keyboard shortcuts.

  • slide 6 of 28

    Fluxbox Themes

    Fluxbox Themes 

    Fluxbox is a stacking window manager that focuses on being lightweight and customizable. Its users can share customized themes like Fluxbox Black featured above.

  • slide 7 of 28

    Moving Away from Typical Desktops with Fluxbox

    Moving Away from Typical Desktops with Fluxbox 

    This Fluxbox user opted to get rid of the typical desktop taskbar. Also this shot shows the variety of applications and options that can be accessed via Fluxbox's standard pop-up menu.

  • slide 8 of 28

    Custom Made and Minimalist Fluxbox Theme

    Custom Made and Minimalist Fluxbox Theme 

    A customized theme and taskbar along with transparent menus and windows make the wallpaper seem like it is part of the interface.

  • slide 9 of 28

    System Statistics Blended into the Interface in Fluxbox

    System Statistics Blended into the Interface in Fluxbox 

    System information blended into the interface so that the user can keep an eye on system resources while working on their projects.

  • slide 10 of 28

    Fluxbox with a Minimal Taskbar

    Fluxbox with a Minimal Taskbar 

    A small and informative taskbar combined with a xclock demonstrates that Fluxbox can do more with less.

  • slide 11 of 28

    Gentoo + OpenBox

    Gentoo + OpenBox 

    Openbox, like Fluxbox, is a stacking window manager that focuses on being light on system resources and very configurable. In the screenshot features OpenBox on a system running the Gentoo distribution of Linux with semi-transparent terminal windows, 3D icons, a system resource tracker and a minimalist taskbar.

  • slide 12 of 28

    Openbox Without a Taskbar

    Openbox Without a Taskbar 

    This screenshot features a slightly modified Dyne theme without a taskbar as well as Openbox's pop-up menus and popular Linux applications like Pidgin.

  • slide 13 of 28

    Incorporating Ideas from other Operating Systems in Openbox

    Incorporating Ideas from other Operating Systems in Openbox 

    This shot features an interface that uses Simdock to emulate the dock from Mac OS X along with a small system tracker and music player in the top left corner.

  • slide 14 of 28

    An Artistic OpenBox

    An Artistic OpenBox 

    Through the Airborne theme and the selected wallpaper this Openbox desktop seems as if it is illustrated instead of rendered.

  • slide 15 of 28

    Openbox's Elementry Desktop

    Openbox's Elementry Desktop 

    Openbox can also be configured to look like and function like other environments. For example the shot above features a desktop made to look similar to KDE.

  • slide 16 of 28

    XMonad

    XMonad 

    XMonad is a tiling window manager written and configured entirely in the Haskell programming language. This allows it to be ported to other systems that can support an X windowing system like BSD or OS X.

  • slide 17 of 28

    XMonad at Work

    XMonad at Work 

    XMonad tiling windows on three monitors in order to manage all the information this user needs at his or her job. Also a book on programming in Haskell and a plush Tux doll.

  • slide 18 of 28

    XMonad's Amazing Transparency

    XMonad's Amazing Transparency 

    This screenshot illustrates something the compositing of many window managers cannot handle, completely opaque and semi-transparent windows are drawn behind transparent windows.

  • slide 19 of 28

    Floating Windows in XMonad

    Floating Windows in XMonad 

    Tiling window managers arrange windows as if they were tiles. Xmonad allows for certain windows to be set as floating, so that the user can drag them where ever he or she may want.

  • slide 20 of 28

    More XMonad Transparency

    More XMonad Transparency 

    Another example of transparency in XMonad this time with a taskbar and more cowsay (the program that drew the ascii cow in the terminal on the bottom right).

  • slide 21 of 28

    XFCE Desktop Environment

    XFCE Desktop Environment 

    XFCE, unlike other applications featured in this article, is a desktop environment, which means that it contains utility applications like text editors and file browsers. The screenshot also demonstrates that XFWM, XFCE's window manager, is not capable of drawing semi-transparent windows behind other transparent windows.

  • slide 22 of 28

    Tiling in XFCE

    Tiling in XFCE 

    XFWM supports tiling, though after the windows have been tiled they are still floating and can be dragged to another position.

  • slide 23 of 28

    Media Control in the Taskbar in XFCE

    Media Control in the Taskbar in XFCE 

    The above screenshot features a taskbar that contains medai controls for the media player in use.

  • slide 24 of 28

    Opacity and Transparency in XFCE

    Opacity and Transparency in XFCE 

    Mostly opaque windows can be drawn behind semi-transparent windows because of a recent update to the window manager.

  • slide 25 of 28

    XFCE's Latest Look

    XFCE's Latest Look 

    XFCE's new theme from its latest version 4.8, which has been in the works for the last two years and includes changes many of the utilities provided by the environment.

  • slide 26 of 28

    Scrotwm - Window Management "for Hackers by Hackers"

    Scrotwm - Window Management  

    Scrotwm totes itself as being a window manager "built by hackers for hackers", which has led to its developement as en extremely fast, light weight, and customizable window manager.

  • slide 27 of 28

    Floating and Tiling in Scrotwm

    Floating and Tiling in Scrotwm 

    The top half of the image features floating windows in Scrotwm and the lower half of the image depicts five terminals arranged via tiling.

  • slide 28 of 28

    Transparency and Statusbar in Scrotwm

    Transparency and Statusbar in Scrotwm 

    A Scrotwm example featuring a transparent terminal and a statusbar.

References

  • Openbox's official site: http://www.openbox.org
  • Scrotwm's official site: https://opensource.conformal.com/wiki/scrotwm
  • Author's own experience customizing the Linux desktop.
  • Awesome's official site: http://awesome.naquadah.com
  • Fluxbox's official site: http://www.fluxbox.org
  • Xmonad's official site: http://xmonad.org/





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