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#1 2020-10-19 04:51:29

phuturism
Member
From: Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Melb
Registered: 2016-07-15
Posts: 101

Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

After playing around with winfuncs (simple tiling app) and enjoying it,  I thought "go the whole turkey" and set up a true tiling windows manager on BL.   Tried I3 but really liked the gaps feature aesthetically - I3-gaps is not available in Buster and I didn't want to keep adding non-repo stuff to this installation, so a bit of research turned up bspwm.   There's a good description of bspwm here https://dev.to/l04db4l4nc3r/bspwm-a-bar … nager-44di and some of the setup processes.    Have to admit I'm a sucker for some r/unixporn so getting something nice looking through tiling is also a motivation.

It really takes some set-up, so not for those who aren't willing to create/edit config files and research on their own.   I love doing all that, so although it takes me a while, I'm happy to spend some time on it to learn new skills.   As usual, often the Arch forums are good place to find information - even though Arch is not Debian the more experimental nature of Arch means there is often good discussion of similar problems that people have encountered.   Example configs may or may not work out of the box depending on your distro and version, so no guarantees of even a basic standard config working.

My only hesitation with going to a tiling wm is that I run exclusively off my laptop screen - Thinkpad X1 Carbon (1st Gen), so screen real estate is an issue - would tiling be ok for my work?   I use terminals frequently but most of my other work is non-technical - notepad (geany), browser, zoom, etc etc.   For this reason I of course kept the bl-openbox available on logon in case I needed it - and I have, frequently, while setting up bspwm.   

Using a 30 pixel gap between windows which is too much I think, will edit that down.

LUlCOLtt.png

So far I'm using polybar (standard configuration).   

And sxhdrc for keybindings - keybindings are critical as you can't launch anything with the mouse, but you can change desktop on the polybar and change window focus. 

All the serious stuff that works in bl-openbox (connect to wifi etc) still works without me doing anything in particular. 

Things to fix - polybar bluetooth applet, a bunch of keybinds to bring across from bl, getting single tap working on the thinkpad trackpad...   

Will keep updating this thread as I continue.

Last edited by phuturism (2020-10-20 06:05:43)


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#2 2020-10-19 15:18:50

sleekmason
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Registered: 2018-05-22
Posts: 259

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

This is good stuff!  Yes. please keep us updated. Sounds like you already went through and found the right tiling manager with the best? features:)

Was looking at Polybar when looking for panel replacement. How do you think it compares?

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#3 2020-10-19 17:12:27

manyroads
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From: around here, somewhere
Registered: 2019-04-16
Posts: 72
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Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

You might find some of my articles on the topic (here) informative (no guarantees)....

https://eirenicon.org/?s=bspwm


Pax vobiscum,
Mark Rabideau - http://many-roads.com
dwm on Debian/Devuan (non-systemd) /arch ~ Reg. Linux User #449130
"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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#4 2020-10-19 17:24:16

brontosaurusrex
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Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 2,152
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Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

phuturism wrote:

screen real estate is an issue - would tiling be ok for my work?   I use terminals frequently but most of my other work is non-technical - notepad (geany), browser, zoom, etc etc.   For this reason I of course kept the bl-openbox available on logon in case I needed it - and I have, frequently, while setting up bspwm.

imho small laptop screens are main motivation to run tiling wm, the ones I tried in the past (mostly dwm) had a way to switch from monocle to tiled view and/or configure certain apps to run full-screen (on certain tab for example). On the other hand one can run any wm/desktop and do tiling via tmux when needed (personally not a tiling fan).

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#5 2020-10-19 19:22:31

sleekmason
Member
Registered: 2018-05-22
Posts: 259

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

manyroads wrote:

You might find some of my articles on the topic (here) informative (no guarantees)....

https://eirenicon.org/?s=bspwm

Nicely done! An absolute treasure trove of information and well written, thank you. Bookmarked in all caps:)

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#6 2020-10-19 20:49:37

PackRat
jgmenu user Numero Uno
Registered: 2015-10-02
Posts: 1,305

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

phuturism wrote:

My only hesitation with going to a tiling wm is that I run exclusively off my laptop screen - Thinkpad X1 Carbon (1st Gen), so screen real estate is an issue - would tiling be ok for my work?   I use terminals frequently but most of my other work is non-technical - notepad (geany), browser, zoom, etc etc.   For this reason I of course kept the bl-openbox available on logon in case I needed it - and I have, frequently, while setting up bspwm.

Yes, usually tiling is suitable for work. You can easily switch between monocle and tile mode in bspwm like brontosuarusrex points out, or set up some bspc rules in your bspwmrc file. This rule:

bspc rule -a Gimp desktop='^2' follow=on state=tiled

places gimp on desktop 2 and tiled; and will switch (follow) to desktop 2 when gimp is opened.

Once you get use to navigating in a tiling environment it's really productive.


You must unlearn what you have learned.
    -- yoda

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#7 2020-10-20 05:36:49

phuturism
Member
From: Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Melb
Registered: 2016-07-15
Posts: 101

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

sleekmason wrote:

This is good stuff!  Yes. please keep us updated. Sounds like you already went through and found the right tiling manager with the best? features:)

Was looking at Polybar when looking for panel replacement. How do you think it compares?

As in replacing Tint2?   Harder to configure, but can probably do whatever you want.   I'm still using the default so too early to call for me.

manyroads wrote:

You might find some of my articles on the topic (here) informative (no guarantees)....

https://eirenicon.org/?s=bspwm

Wish I'd had this reference a week ago MR, this will help a lot.  Thank you.

brontosaurusrex wrote:

imho small laptop screens are main motivation to run tiling wm, the ones I tried in the past (mostly dwm) had a way to switch from monocle to tiled view and/or configure certain apps to run full-screen (on certain tab for example). On the other hand one can run any wm/desktop and do tiling via tmux when needed (personally not a tiling fan).

PackRat wrote:

places gimp on desktop 2 and tiled; and will switch (follow) to desktop 2 when gimp is opened.

Once you get use to navigating in a tiling environment it's really productive.

Thanks people.   I've got the monocle keystroke well memorized and so far I'm enjoying the tiling and learning key-shortcuts at a rapid pace.   I've set up some applications to start on specified desktops, some are working and some stubbornly insist on launching in my current desktop - I'm sure it's my misconfiguration in bspwmrc somehow.

The only blocker that slowed me down for a few days was the keypad tap - I run a thinkpad with trackpad and couldn't get the single tap to work.   Messed with the synaptics and libinput confs in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/ for a while but eventually got it sorted by removing editing the libinput and removing the synaptics altogether.

Last edited by phuturism (2020-10-20 05:37:33)


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#8 2020-10-21 19:08:53

hhh
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Registered: 2015-09-17
Posts: 10,755
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Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

We all know I'm loving Cinnamon on Buster, but I have slightly dabbled in other, non-DM window managers. CWM and Awesome.

CWM was really tough to get working on Debian stable a couple of, maybe 3 releases ago. @glittersloth managed to sort me out, and I'm really upset that I can't find a pic of that one grasshopper scrot.

Awesome is awesomely easy, can recommend.

As cog recently posted when I asked what tiling manager to try, and I'm paraphrasing...

"dwm, of course. And then you'll discover that Cinnamon has all the tiling you'll need."

He was correct. Keyboard shortcut window placement For The Win.

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#9 2020-10-22 06:47:02

brontosaurusrex
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Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 2,152
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Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

@hhh, Awesome has a proper built-in bar right?

Last edited by brontosaurusrex (2020-10-22 10:22:22)

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#10 2020-10-22 13:02:47

phuturism
Member
From: Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Melb
Registered: 2016-07-15
Posts: 101

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

Not much action as I've been messing around with OBS (open broadcaster software) https://obsproject.com/ as my company is making some instructional videos it being a pandemic and all that.  Awesome software!   Apparently the cool kids use it for streaming themselves playing online games.  I'm just using it to record boring talking head videos with slide deck background.   But it's pretty great - you can integrate v4l camera inputs, any screen on your desktop, other media (eg short video loops as a background) etc and record to a file or stream it live.

While I was doing that I thought I could use a spare smartphone as a better webcam than my laptop's integrated one - used Droidcam (android app) and adb to do that through USB, but you can stream over your wireless network too.  And then use as a source in OBS.  You could actually run both cameras at once and record/stream, or switch between them.

I did manage to move the polybar to the bottom of screen, and add the various applets - bluetooth, nm-applet, volume control.   Have a strange issue with mouse cursor - it changes from my lxappearance set cursor set to another type when mouse over thunar window - weird.   If I reset through lxappearance it's fine for the rest of the session but the problem comes back after reboot/logout.    A minor annoyance.

z3AhDTwt.png

I'll try to style polybar a bit more if I have time on the weekend, but I've got bspwm pretty much working as I want it too, although still learning how to exploit it's awesome power in terms of moving/resizing/rotating tiles (or nodes as I think bspwm calls them).   I also have to set up bspwmrc to deal better with dialogue-boxes that would be better set to float - eg if I do a screen shot to imgur the Yes/Cancel dialogue is set to whatever size node bspwm thinks is appropriate.   I know this can be done in bspwmrc rules but haven't looked into it yet.

Example of grossly oversized dialogue below :-)

2g3LSjXt.png

Last edited by phuturism (2020-10-22 13:10:24)


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#11 2020-10-22 13:25:50

phuturism
Member
From: Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Melb
Registered: 2016-07-15
Posts: 101

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

brontosaurusrex wrote:

On the other hand one can run any wm/desktop and do tiling via tmux when needed (personally not a tiling fan).

Just looked at tmux, that's a "terminal multiplexer" so it's tiling within a terminal right?   So I could use tmux inside bspwm and ...
66NJIRDt.jpg

Apologies in advance

Last edited by phuturism (2020-10-22 13:26:17)


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#12 2020-10-22 14:44:40

PackRat
jgmenu user Numero Uno
Registered: 2015-10-02
Posts: 1,305

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

brontosaurusrex wrote:

@hhh, Awesome has a proper built-in bar right?

Yes.

Polybar also works well with awesome, but tint2 and xfce4-panel have some issues since awesome is not fully ewmh compliant.


You must unlearn what you have learned.
    -- yoda

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#13 2020-10-22 19:39:52

ohnonot
...again
Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 5,019
Website

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

phuturism wrote:

Have a strange issue with mouse cursor - it changes from my lxappearance set cursor set to another type when mouse over thunar window - weird.   If I reset through lxappearance it's fine for the rest of the session but the problem comes back after reboot/logout.

Where is the cursor theme defined?
Possible places are
~/.gtkrc-2.0
~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini
~/.Xresources (or any other Xresources file parsed with xrdb)
and any of

echo {~/.,~/.local/share/,/usr/share/}icons/index.theme

and the databases GTK3 uses, but that's unlikely to be the culprit here.


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BL quote proposals to this thread please.
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#14 2020-10-22 23:42:52

PackRat
jgmenu user Numero Uno
Registered: 2015-10-02
Posts: 1,305

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

phuturism wrote:

Have a strange issue with mouse cursor - it changes from my lxappearance set cursor set to another type when mouse over thunar window - weird.   If I reset through lxappearance it's fine for the rest of the session but the problem comes back after reboot/logout.    A minor annoyance.

This sort of mouse pointer behavior is common with bspwm. Usually, if you add:

xsetroot -cursor_name left_ptr

to your bspwmrc file it will fix the issue.


You must unlearn what you have learned.
    -- yoda

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#15 2020-10-23 01:28:41

phuturism
Member
From: Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Melb
Registered: 2016-07-15
Posts: 101

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

Thanks for the tips guys, I'll try Packrat's suggestion first.


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#16 2020-10-23 02:48:18

phuturism
Member
From: Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Melb
Registered: 2016-07-15
Posts: 101

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

PackRat wrote:

[

xsetroot -cursor_name left_ptr

this worked!  Thanks PR


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#17 2020-10-23 08:54:16

brontosaurusrex
Middle Office
Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 2,152
Website

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

phuturism wrote:

Just looked at tmux, that's a "terminal multiplexer" so it's tiling within a terminal right?   So I could use tmux inside bspwm and ...
https://i.imgur.com/66NJIRDt.jpg

Apologies in advance

Now that's a meme smile, one step ahead might be a terminal app that can split windows, and in those splits the tmux splits and ... (tiling in tiling in tiling).

Last edited by brontosaurusrex (2020-10-23 10:41:02)

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#18 2020-10-23 14:24:02

PackRat
jgmenu user Numero Uno
Registered: 2015-10-02
Posts: 1,305

Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

brontosaurusrex wrote:
phuturism wrote:

Just looked at tmux, that's a "terminal multiplexer" so it's tiling within a terminal right?   So I could use tmux inside bspwm and ...
https://i.imgur.com/66NJIRDt.jpg

Apologies in advance

Now that's a meme smile, one step ahead might be a terminal app that can split windows, and in those splits the tmux splits and ... (tiling in tiling in tiling).

Or you can use kitty terminal with tmux and bspwm.

Linux, so many ways ....


You must unlearn what you have learned.
    -- yoda

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#19 2020-10-23 22:21:58

hhh
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Registered: 2015-09-17
Posts: 10,755
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Re: Setting up bspwm - a tiling windows manager on BL

First one to post a recursive terminal in the Scrot thread wins! Gentlemen... Start! Your! Debians! *internal fans softly whir*

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