Felipe Martín

Be incomprehensible. If they can't understand, they can't disagree.

The penguin trials after two weeks

Published on 2016-04-27 with no comments.

It's been two weeks already and I will make a quick post with two subjects: the stuff broken that needed to be fixed (from my point of view) and improvements to the workstation that made my life easier.

After other two weeks I will post a summary with the good and bad parts.

Stuff fixed

Lightdm black screen

After the first reboot the first problem appeared, the lightdm login window was a black screen (accepting input but showing nothing). I remember that from not so long ago when I tried to install linux on my home computer and that happened, luckily it had a solution, I just needed to install lightdm-gtk- greeter and replace it at the lightdm configuration.

# /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
# ...
# ...

Better font rendering for i3

The default fonts for the i3bar and so on are a bit clunky for my personal taste so I changed the rendering from pango to xft and now it looks nice.

font xft:monospace 8

Better font rendering system wide (ala. OS X)

One of my worst problems with linux is the font rendering. Everything looks worse than on OS X, that's a fact. Even people using linux desktops say it when looking text on a OS X machine. Luckily I found infinality, a patch for the font rendering in the freetype2 package that left my fonts almost Macish.

I just installed the infinality-bundle following the official ArchLinux Wiki entry on the subject and used the setup for the Soft of OS X appareance editing the /etc/profile.d/infinality-settings.sh using the ultimate5 configuration.

export INFINALITY_FT="ultimate5"

Just restart X to the settings to take effect. I haven't seen problems with the infinality patch until now.

Improvements over the base system

Adding some background with feh

The most basic stuff! I don't really know if there's another way to do this but looking around I found that using feh you can just point to an image file and use that as wallpaper.

Just adding this to my i3 config file:

exec_always feh --bg ~/.config/i3/wallpaper.png

I want to improve it having a script that will iterate over png images inside a folder and using one at random but since I don't need fancy stuff this will work for now.

Running stuff when I log in

To start programs when you log in at your session adding them to your i3 configuration seems like the way to go:

# Startup programs
exec dropbox

Adding a lock screen with i3lock

Another thing I missed a lot. When I leave my desk I lock my computer so no one can, just say, put a David Hasselhoff wallpaper on it or something, so with i3lock, scrut, a bash script and a key binding I have a very nice screen locker in place!


# Take screenshot
scrot /tmp/lockscreen.png

# Pixellate
mogrify -scale 10% -scale 1000% /tmp/lockscreen.png

# Lock screen with the image
i3lock -i /tmp/lockscreen.png

And in the i3 config file:

bindsym $mod+l ~/.config/i3/i3lock.sh

More integrated notifications with dunst

Since the default desktop environment I installed was xfce4, the notifications being shown was from them and it were horrible. Instead of that I installed dunst.

dunst notifications

They are not the best looking notifications but are well integrated with the system design and are highly customizable, they will change soon enough :)

Using the media keys for volume with alsa mixer

This was easy since I just need to bind the X media volume up and down to the alsa mixer control app so I can use the keyboard to control the system volume easily.

# Media keys
bindsym XF86AudioRaiseVolume exec amixer -q set Master 4%+ unmute
bindsym XF86AudioLowerVolume exec amixer -q set Master 4%- unmute

Using the media keys for media players with playerctl

By default my system didn't recognize the media keys for play/pause/back/forward for any player but this was the easiest of them all. Just installed playerctl and every app I used until now worked out of the box. Even the forward/backwards keys for mpv which wasn't working for mpv with mps-youtube on OS X are functional on my linux box!

# Media player controls
bindsym XF86AudioPlay exec playerctl play-pause
# bindsym XF86AudioPause exec playerctl pause
bindsym XF86AudioNext exec playerctl next
bindsym XF86AudioPrev exec playerctl previous

Removing the title bars for the windows

That was space I didn't need, it may seem stupid but... how often do you look at the titlebar of the app you're using? Some like the browsers didn't even have one! So I've removed the titlebars and left only 2px borders for the application windows.

# Windows without titlebars
for_window [class="^.*"] border pixel 2

Auto enable floating for pop-up windows

It was really annoying watching a google login window take half of the desktop just for a moment to login into a service, so every window with the role of popup is now floating by default.

# Browser popups floating
for_window [window_role="pop-up"] floating enable

Using a custom i3bar with i3pystatus

Since most of the default information the i3bar was unnecesary I found out about i3pystatus that allows you to use python modules to customize the i3bar at will. Below are my config file and the i3bar.py I use for it.

from i3pystatus import Status
from i3pystatus.updates import pacman, yaourt

status = Status()

# Pacman/Yaourt updates
                format="Updates: {count}",
                format_no_updates="No updates",
                backends=[pacman.Pacman(), yaourt.Yaourt()])

# Displays clock like this:
                format="%a %-d %b %H:%M",)


# Memory

# Shows the average load of the last minute and the last 5 minutes
# (the default value for format is used)
status.register("load", color='#00ff00')

# Shows the address and up/down state of enp6s0

# Shows disk usage of /
                format="{used}/{total}G [{avail}G]",)

# Shows pulseaudio default sink volume

# .config/i3/config
bar {
    status_command ~/.config/i3/i3bar.py
    position up

Hide the mouse cursor when not needed

Using i3 I rely on the keyboard a lot, so much that sometimes my wireless mouse turn itself off to save battery due to inactivity. That said, it's really annoying for me having the cursor over text I'm writing or just sitting there when I don't need it so I installed unclutter and running it on startup was very relieving.

# .config/i3/unclutter.sh
unclutter &
# .config/i3/config
exec ~/.config/i3/unclutter.sh

What's next?

There are still two weeks pending and even after all this tweaks the customization is far from over! There are still stuff I miss a lot, like:

See ya in two weeks!