Re-configuring JWM

Since re-installing DSL 4.0, I’ve come to appreciate the ease of customizing a JWM-based environment. JWM is now the default window manager for DSL. JWM is very light on resources and very customizable — from its appearance to its menuing to setting up trays.

I think one shortcoming is how its menuing system is in the .jwmrc file. I’d like to see that fully separated so the menu is distinct from the configuration file. Fortunately, that “weakness” can be remedied using the “strength” of the INCLUDE tags since JWM uses XML (very easy to edit and configure as one sees fit) — it’s a call by the distro’s developer and/or user. DSL uses an INCLUDE tag for the tray and another for the MyDSL part of the menu, but continues put the main menu in jwmrc.

I moved all of my menu out of jwmrc and also INCLUDE a separate tray (see top photo in my previous entry) in the bottom right hand corner. The reason I did that was to minimize the height of the tray across the top without compressing that tray’s icons so much that they become illegible. It also allows me to add more icons without cluttering up the top tray and stealing space from the task bar part of it. The bottom right tray is on autohide so it doesn’t stake a claim to screen real estate and I can make it big enough to show decently-sized icons — the icons are about 16 pixels with the top tray set at 24 pixels, but they’re closer to 28-30 with the bottom right set at 34. I’ve since moved all the icons from the top tray and extended the tray on bottom to include more applications.

I’ve only started playing with some of the configurable variables. You can group applications together so they share the same options, such as making them “sticky” (same as “pinning” to every virtual window), opening all instances of applications in that group to the same size, using the nolist variable to prevent them from showing up in the task list, and using the same icon for their common window decoration.

The one I have played with more extensively is setting up key bindings (see my posts in this thread at the DSL forums) so I don’t have to grab my mouse much — except when I use Rox. JWM is very keyboard-friendly.

(I use mouseless window managers on my laptop. I would use Ion more, or even exclusively, if it wouldn’t require me to rebind its default keys; Ion uses many of the function keys used by console applications. Ratpoison is more agnostic and uses GNU Screen-like bindings so its very familiar and more friendly with a strictly keyboard operation.)

There’s one feature I’d like use but JWM doesn’t have it. The task list only allows right and left insertion. I want one that drops down menu-style so more space on the tray can be used for other things (such as swallowed apps). I have a couple ideas how I can hack that, and I wonder if I might be able to INCLUDE some call JWM uses to build the task list to accomplish the same thing.

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