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Topic: Minimal Apps (Read 4738 times)

  • ersi
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Minimal Apps
If you thought Uzbl was a minimal WebKit browser, you should see surf

Quote
surf is a simple web browser based on WebKit/GTK+. It is able to display websites and follow links. It supports the XEmbed protocol which makes it possible to embed it in another application. Furthermore, one can point surf to another URI by setting its XProperties.
It does not do much else.


    no auto-update
    no built-in search engine access
    no cookie management
    no configuration file
    no extension system
    no password management
    no standard bookmark system
    no tabbing
    no toolbars
    . . . and no bloat.



On my machine I have currently the minimalist Webkit browser Luakit. In Luakit only the interface is minimal. Otherwise there's

- Tabs
- Bookmarks (!!)
- Search engines
- Cookie management
- Completely configurable keyboard controls
- Extensible whichever way by means of lua scripting language
- Flash plugin

Looks like I like under-the-hood tweakability :)

But this thread is for all likeable minimalist apps, not just browsers.

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #25
Rofi is a cool window switcher, if your window manager is so minimalistic that it doesn't have a window switcher of its own (i.e. the equivalent of Alt+Tab). For example, Openbox has a window switcher, but i3wm doesn't. Rofi has more capabilities, but that's the only thing I use it for.

Lately, the colour scheme of Rofi is to be configured in .Xresources and my earlier command line yields an ugly result now. Instead of bothering to reconfigure, I downgraded to an older version that still has the daemon mode (replaced with the possibility of a symlink from dmenu in newer versions).

Rofi has several extensions. One of them makes Rofi cooperate with Surfraw https://github.com/carnager/rofi-scripts/tree/master/rofi-surfraw

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #26
I included a mention of Rofi in the window switcher I wrote myself, nimbler, see here.

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #27
Amazing. But you use Xfce which has its own Alt+Tab thingie. Why did you write another one? What's the default one missing?

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #28
I think I was still using GNOME 2 when I wrote it, at least on my desktop, although in any case Alt+Tab wasn't very usable in Xfce until 4.12 (the current release, from 2015).

As far as I'm concerned, a display of large icons as has been standard since at least Windows 3, is virtually useless. "Oh look, I've opened five text documents, ten PDFs and five file manager windows. I totally know which is which..." Mini thumbnails don't help either. "Oh look, all of my text documents have text in them. I can totally tell them apart now." When you find yourself using the much more awkward taskbar instead of Alt+Tab, you know Alt+Tab is broken.

A usable window list is structured like a text-based list consisting of icon + window title. That's the bare minimum. Xfce has that option nowadays, so it's alright. Unfortunately it's mildly hampered by some stupid transparency that can't (easily) be disabled. But like I said, that's just the bare minimum.

The brilliance of SmartTab.org over the traditional window switcher (which of course I shamelessly copied), besides the list-based approach, is to assign a quick way to access each window. So in nimbler, I activate the window switcher (my nimbler shortcut is Super + `), I identify what I want to switch to, and then I press, e.g., c. Another thing is that you can use the arrow keys or the mouse to activate a window as opposed to having to perform Alt-Tab contortionism.

Something I copied from superswitcher is to show all windows on all workspaces, organized by workspace, so I don't have to switch to workspace 3 first in order to go Alt-Tabbing around workspace 3. You can also quickly switch to a workspace using F1-F12, although that's fairly redundant. In superswitcher you can also create new workspaces and drag windows around between workspaces so it's more useful there.



On the "someday" list is to add a function to highlight windows matching a search term similar to superswitcher. You can already activate the GUI design for this by pressing colon (:) but it's otherwise useless.

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #29
A usable window list is structured like a text-based list consisting of icon + window title. That's the bare minimum. Xfce has that option nowadays, so it's alright. Unfortunately it's mildly hampered by some stupid transparency that can't (easily) be disabled. But like I said, that's just the bare minimum.
In Xfce, there is (always was, as far as I know) a window list like this



Cinnamon has an equivalent to this on the taskbar. I always put that thing to the corner of the taskbar.



The problem with these lists is that they require mousework. Ever since I have a trackball, it's a lesser problem now. (Mousework also includes the fact that stacking window managers don't give an option to move the mouse pointer to the window you just switched to.)

I always found Xfce's and Cinnamon's Alt+Tab solutions pretty good, except, in Cinnamon, if you want to cycle through windows on ALL workspaces, you MUST use Ctrl+Alt+Tab (at least I haven't found a way to configure it to mere Alt+Tab). And I also dislike the fact that when I minimise a window, then on the Alt+Tab list it's pushed to be the very last and it takes either much tabbing to reach or Alt+Shift+Tab. This is where I like the behaviour (or configuration options) of Openbox most.

In i3wm there's no Alt+Tab equivalent (to cycle through windows, not merely switch back-and-forth or move between them) whatsoever. That's where Rofi comes in. Rofi is nicely navigable with arrows: When you are on top of the list and you push the Up key, you get to the bottom. Very nice. And the way you can filter the right title up by typing immediately makes it perfect.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #30
In Xfce, there is (always was, as far as I know) a window list like this
That never quite struck my fancy, although if you add a keyboard shortcut to xfdesktop --windowlist it is probably better than many a window switcher out there. The fact that navigating the list by arrow keys seemingly takes forever is exactly what nimbler adds on top of the principle. Graphically it's a perfect example of what Alt+Tab should look like, but except on small screens (e.g., an old netbook) it isn't that useful because it's more of a taskbar alternative.

A taskbar shows you windows in order of opening, although I would argue that a good taskbar allows dragging to reorder. I believe GNOME 2 did this, so MATE probably does as well. Note that in Windows the taskbar also allows Ctrl+click selection to tile windows, something missing from (all?) Linux taskbars to my knowledge.

The Opera/Presto tabbar is a very good example of what a tab/taskbar should be like, although its window list was even better. Its Ctrl+Tab was also a terrific tab/taskswitcher. But even vastly inferior mechanisms like in most other browsers are in many ways superior to the OS taskbars, which seem to have been transplanted straight from the early '90s. Of course many so-called new innovations are the complete opposite. Apple is a major offender in not adding any useful features to its OS since 2000 or so, adding only eye candy, but that hardly means the superior concepts of yore were finished in usability as Opera showed.

The Xfce Alt+Tab switcher is pretty good and I actually use it plenty, but I don't like its transparency (see screen).

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #31
A taskbar shows you windows in order of opening, although I would argue that a good taskbar allows dragging to reorder. I believe GNOME 2 did this, so MATE probably does as well.
I remember dragging windows in Xfce panel too, quite an available option. And Cinnamon panel does the same.

Other than this, what else is there that would make a taskbar good? I consider even Tint2 a good taskbar, my favourite when in Openbox.

Note that in Windows the taskbar also allows Ctrl+click selection to tile windows, something missing from (all?) Linux taskbars to my knowledge.
This must be a new amazing Windows 10 feature. As much as I have seen Windows 10 (which isn't much) I don't like its icons-only approach on the taskbar. Can it be configured to show window titles? I haven't found such an option. Windows' current manner of tiling essentially copies Android (if you have a multi-window Android like in Galaxy Notes).

I would like something like a "tiling mode" in window managers to blitz-tile all windows across the workspace and then you could drag the edges of windows to justify the grid so that the contiguous windows are dragged at the same time. No stacking window manager offers this properly.

The Opera/Presto tabbar is a very good example of what a tab/taskbar should be like, although its window list was even better. Its Ctrl+Tab was also a terrific tab/taskswitcher.
Yes. And Opera's pages can blitz-tile, even though not quite like in tiling window managers.
 

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #32
I remember dragging windows in Xfce panel too, quite an available option. And Cinnamon panel does the same.
Oh, I see. In the window button options you can set the behavior. You can sort it automatically by various algorithms, or by "none, allow drag-and-drop". Imo those shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but I guess the behavior for auto-sort combined with drag-and-drop would just be too complicated and possibly counter-intuitive.

Other than this, what else is there that would make a taskbar good?
Just like with the Alt-Tab switcher, it needs to show window titles. The Mac OS dock's large icons are useless. So are the copies in Vista and higher, in Ubuntu Unity, etc. And don't get me started on how since Windows 7 the quick start icons double as the taskbar. Want to start a new Explorer window? Better right click on it, buddy! And to switch between them, waste time hovering over that single indicator. Ugh!

In Windows ME I used to run something called LiteStep with a double or maybe even a triple height taskbar. A bit like how since Vista the taskbar is stupidly high by default, but actually useful because of it having regular window buttons.

From some screenshots it looks like Tint2 fulfills the job just fine. What I can't fathom is that some people would look at something like Tint2 and say something like: "oh, that looks just like Windows 95, which is old, therefore bad."
This must be a new amazing Windows 10 feature.
You mean Windows 95, when that taskbar thing was introduced. :P I wouldn't be surprised if Windows 8/10 somehow managed to get rid of it.

Yes. And Opera's pages can blitz-tile, even though not quite like in tiling window managers.
Yup, except in the Windows taskbar you don't need the window panel to do so -- like I said, a defect of Opera's tabbar.

  • krake
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #33

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #34
The terminal is more efficient for some things and I use it plenty, but I can't help but notice that the terminal is used within a GUI in all but the first. :P

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #35
I remember dragging windows in Xfce panel too, quite an available option. And Cinnamon panel does the same.
Oh, I see. In the window button options you can set the behavior. You can sort it automatically by various algorithms, or by "none, allow drag-and-drop". Imo those shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but I guess the behavior for auto-sort combined with drag-and-drop would just be too complicated and possibly counter-intuitive.
To me it's most intuitive to have drag-and-drop there and it bothers me a little that it's not turned on out of the box and that the setting is sort of buried. When I began using Xfce, I had to search the internet to find it. Anyway, the good thing is that it's there and can be turned on.

Other than this, what else is there that would make a taskbar good?
Just like with the Alt-Tab switcher, it needs to show window titles. The Mac OS dock's large icons are useless. So are the copies in Vista and higher, in Ubuntu Unity, etc. And don't get me started on how since Windows 7 the quick start icons double as the taskbar. Want to start a new Explorer window? Better right click on it, buddy! And to switch between them, waste time hovering over that single indicator. Ugh!
Yes, Vista is bad, 10's taskbar is probably worse,[1] and Mac and Ubuntu Unity are indefensible, but all (other) Linux panels and desktop environments qualify as okay.

From some screenshots it looks like Tint2 fulfills the job just fine. What I can't fathom is that some people would look at something like Tint2 and say something like: "oh, that looks just like Windows 95, which is old, therefore bad."
When preset in a distro, Tint2 is most often half-transparent and should not remind of Windows 95. But yes, it is rather basic and if you want to change anything, you have to hack the plain-text config file which puts off surprisingly many people. But it allows drag-and-drop and can display either icons or titles as you wish. And has a nice systray. It is quite complete in itself.
 
This must be a new amazing Windows 10 feature.
You mean Windows 95, when that taskbar thing was introduced. :P I wouldn't be surprised if Windows 8/10 somehow managed to get rid of it.
I checked and couldn't find Ctrl+click tiling in Windows 10. I didn't know such a thing existed.[2]
Windows 10 has drag-to-edge tiling though, for two windows. It's very tablet-y. Once you have tiled one window to one half of the screen, all other open windows show up a la Expo to offer a second window to tile to the other half of the screen - exactly like in Galaxy Note. And, amazingly, Windows 10 combines the border of windows tiled this way, so that you can adjust the common border with a single mouse-drag - again like in Galaxy Note and like in true tiling wm's. This common border is what I would like to see in more desktop environments when in tiling mode (would be cool in Opera and Otter too).

Cinnamon and Xfce also have drag-to-edge tiling/snapping. They lack the common border, but are more flexible with the number of windows. Openbox can tile&snap even more flexibly to other window edges (not so much by dragging, but by keybinds). Unfortunately it's not been given any thought in vanilla state and it is a headache to configure to make it work intuitively enough.
I actually checked and found the setting in Windows 10 to reveal window titles, so this is cool, even though it instantly becomes obvious how this irreversibly removes some useful right-click options on the taskbar, such as "Close all windows (of this app)" and requires considerable resizing to look tolerable.
Not sure if I would have been able to appreciate tiling of many windows in the older computers I used. Namely, I used a single 800x600 monitor well into the 21st century. Then again, I appreciated Opera's tiling a lot even given that monitor. In Windows I used to do "stack all" (or whatever it was called) a lot.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #36
When preset in a distro, Tint2 is most often half-transparent and should not remind of Windows 95.
Overuse of transparency is totally mid-2000s though, and thankfully mostly passé. Even KDE5 seems to have stopped doing it. :P Although now we've got that stupid flat trend.

Windows 10 has drag-to-edge tiling though, for two windows. It's very tablet-y. Once you have tiled one window to one half of the screen, all other open windows show up a la Expo to offer a second window to tile to the other half of the screen - exactly like in Galaxy Note. And, amazingly, Windows 10 combines the border of windows tiled this way, so that you can adjust the common border with a single mouse-drag - again like in Galaxy Note and like in true tiling wm's. This common border is what I would like to see in more desktop environments when in tiling mode (would be cool in Opera and Otter too).
They've been developing this functionality since at least Windows 7, although I'm not too sure about the single border thing.

I checked and couldn't find Ctrl+click tiling in Windows 10. I didn't know such a thing existed.
Ah yes, it looks like they broke it. Attached you'll find a screenshot from my Windows XP VM. Edit: already broken in Windows 7. Unfortunately I don't have a Vista VM, but I imagine that's when they broke it.

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #37
(Looking at the screenshot) Ah yes, "Cascade"! I used that a lot. And "Tile horizontally" and "Tile vertically" was what Opera used to have in common with Windows desktop environment. Those were the days, except that I have discovered the potential of tiling on desktop more fully only recently with i3wm.

I guess my screen was too small earlier. I often needed two Word documents side by side - exactly side by side, not flipping back-and-forth between them one over the other - and it required hiding some toolbars in Word, hiding Windows taskbar, etc. to maximise the workspace. And, the job done, revert everything so that the next user of the computer would not get another heart attack.

Overuse of transparency is totally mid-2000s though, and thankfully mostly passé. Even KDE5 seems to have stopped doing it. :P Although now we've got that stupid flat trend.
Yes, the flat trend is stupid. I'd argue it's stupider than transparency. With transparency I can do something useful, such as put a transparent editor window or a terminal emulator on top of the web browser and type stuff while looking at the text on the webpage. Very useful when following instructions or summarising things.

Edit: I just understood you were talking about transparency in a different sense - as a general eye-candy effect. The first thing I do when I install a new Xfce or Cinnamon is to turn ALL effects off. But compositing and user-specified transparency are something else, something I use a lot.

In Mate (all distros I've seen with Mate) have compositing turned off at first. I don't know why they would do that. Compositing is not just eye-candy.
  • Last Edit: 2017-01-15, 16:18:25 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #38
Without compositing things paint slower when drivers are working right, but I think that with, e.g., that basic VESA driver we were talking about last week compositing slows things down. But at least as a default I rather doubt I'd like the kind of transparency you were talking about.

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #39
But at least as a default I rather doubt I'd like the kind of transparency you were talking about.
When I began using transparent apps this way in Manjaro Openbox, it wasn't configured by default and I had to jump through hoops to enable it. I installed transset and configured it to respond to mousescroll in titlebar so that the editor (or whatever) window becomes transparent when I need it so. For terminal emulator, I simply have two of them: When I need transparency, I open up urxvt which has been configured transparent; when I don't need transparency, then xterm, and if the processes and apps are running in Tmux, they can be moved from one terminal to the other.

By the way, did you know that this scrollable transparency was inbuilt in Cinnamon?



I have had very good times with Xfce (best times with Xfce+Openbox), but then left it to hop between Cinnamon, Openbox and i3wm, trying to figure out (again) where to settle and in what way.

Cinnamon is most complete out of the box and, to my taste, requires least after-configuration from vanilla/default state to perfection, compared to Xfce or Mate. Still, I miss some fine-tuning. For example, I wanted to turn off tooltips on the taskbar, but this option is dogmatically not implemented. Instead, you have to hack the theme CSS. It should not be like this.

i3wm has given me lots of further ideas about what my ideal desktop should look like and how it should work. Eventually, this means a stacking wm with many aspects of tiling. It requires plenty of creative configuration and fine-tuning that seems only possible with Openbox.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #40
By the way, did you know that this scrollable transparency was inbuilt in Cinnamon?
Nope, though I seem to recall having used something like that in something else. Maybe Compiz in ye olde Ubuntu. I also used to have something like that in Windows back in the early 2000s.

Cinnamon is most complete out of the box and, to my taste, requires least after-configuration from vanilla/default state to perfection, compared to Xfce or Mate.
Probably true. Cinnamon is basically the sensible, modern form of Gnome Shell. Xfce is stuck in the past in a way, but when the present consists of stupid tiles and giant icons I'd rather be hanging out there anyway.

As always, I'm more likely to try these kinds of new things on my laptop. On my desktop I want to be able to actually work. My laptop is mostly for use with a browser, LibreOffice Writer, Zim or Geany anyway. On that I can stand something like Ubuntu Unity, which I actually ran on my netbook for possibly up to a year. What I can't (easily) deal with anymore is Windows. The way the US International keyboard layout (AltGr dead keys) and the Compose Key work can be mimicked but it's just not as good. It's killer. Also the touchpad in Windows is awful. Multitouch functions much better in X. And as we've established, many of the features that were once superior in Windows have been purposefully killed off over the last decade or so.

  • ersi
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #41
Need to rip a CD in command line without a hassle?

1. Install abcde
2. Insert the CD
3. In terminal, launch abcde

Just works.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Minimal Apps
Reply #42
It works fine out of the box, but you can also customize it slightly to your preferences. Here's mine:

Code: [Select]
$ cat .abcde.conf 
CDPARANOIAOPTS=-z

#See http://www.andrews-corner.org/abcde.html for inspiration

FLACOPTS='-s -e -V -8'
OPUSENCOPTS="--vbr --bitrate 128"

OUTPUTTYPE="flac,opus"