Optimizing Linux's User Interface
The GoodStuff iconbar is truly one of the most useful Linux utilities I have ever found. GoodStuff is a fvwm module and only runs under fvwm. GoodStuff is an iconbar extremely similar to that found on the NeXT and to a lesser extent like Window's Dashboard or RipBAR. GoodStuff uses approximately 500KB of memory and very little CPU resources. The configuration file is the same as fvwm, .fvwmrc.
GoodStuff's primary use is simply to assign iconic buttons to commonly-used applications so that they may be started with a single mouse click. For example, I have rxvt terminals assigned to each machine in my home network which I can immediately log into. This is substantially faster than my old method of typing xterm, moving the mouse into the window's field of view, clicking for focus, typing rlogin machine name, and then entering my password.
I also have common utilities, such as my mail utility, ftptool, Emacs editor, netscape, file manager, and so forth attached to individual buttons. I limit the GoodStuff iconbar to a dozen buttons (laid out in a 2'6 matrix), because each one takes valuable screen real estate, especially since I have it set permanently in the foreground. Rxvt, my most commonly started application, is not included in GoodStuff but instead is mapped to the middle mouse button on the root window. I can immediately pop up a new rxvt window by simply clicking the second button on the background wallpaper. Less commonly used programs are attached to the root menu (as described in the previous section).
Button bars are hardly novel. What is special about GoodStuff is that one may assign running X-Windows applications to each button and use the button as the display. For example, I have xload running as a 2x1 button at the top of the GoodStuff menubar, and it displays just as it would in a small window. I have xbiff in another window, which alerts me if mail has arrived (the button's color becomes inverted, and it is very noticable). I even have a less well-known but equally useful X-Windows app called xosview which monitors instantaneous CPU, memory, disk, and network usage as a small colored bar graph. It is very helpful for me to watch this program running in the GoodStuff button bar to see when I'm taxing the network or CPU or running out of memory or disk space. All I needed to do to incorporate xosview into GoodStuff was the following line in the .fvwmrc:
*GoodStuff - whatever Swallow "xosview" xosview -bg grey -geometry 210x96-1500-1500 &
I also have fvwm's 2x2 virtual desktop at the bottom of the GoodStuff menu bar. I don't use it all that often, but it is a handy feature when needed.
Other fvwm modules exist, including Pager, Banner, WinList, Clean, Ident, Save, Scroll, Debug, and Sound. I don't use them as much as GoodStuff, but they are all useful utilities.
The strategy described above uses fvwm, tcsh, and other utilities to generate an effective desktop interface to manage programs, data, and system resources. While lacking in certain features, such as drag-and-drop desktop tools and object-oriented metaphors, the combination of these tools creates a desktop which is more flexible, customizable, and powerful than competing paradigms. Current versions of these tools are freely available at many Internet sites including ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux.
Jeff Arnholt is currently developing X-based biomedical imaging packages at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a medical and graduate student who hopes to earn his MD/PhD degrees by 1997. You may contact him at email@example.com.
Fast/Flexible Linux OS Recovery
On Demand Now
In this live one-hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for complete disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible full-system recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.
Join Linux Journal's Shawn Powers and David Huffman, President/CEO, Storix, Inc.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
- Google's Abacus Project: It's All about Trust
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- Seeing Red and Getting Sleep
- Back to Backups
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction
- Fancy Tricks for Changing Numeric Base
- Working with Command Arguments
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Installation
- Linux Mint 18
- CentOS 6.8 Released
Until recently, IBM’s Power Platform was looked upon as being the system that hosted IBM’s flavor of UNIX and proprietary operating system called IBM i. These servers often are found in medium-size businesses running ERP, CRM and financials for on-premise customers. By enabling the Power platform to run the Linux OS, IBM now has positioned Power to be the platform of choice for those already running Linux that are facing scalability issues, especially customers looking at analytics, big data or cloud computing.
￼Running Linux on IBM’s Power hardware offers some obvious benefits, including improved processing speed and memory bandwidth, inherent security, and simpler deployment and management. But if you look beyond the impressive architecture, you’ll also find an open ecosystem that has given rise to a strong, innovative community, as well as an inventory of system and network management applications that really help leverage the benefits offered by running Linux on Power.Get the Guide