If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

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falconreeve
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If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by falconreeve » Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:16 pm

Hi everyone,

I used to play around with Linux years ago but always just used a DE. Having started watching some of DT's vids (which are great!), I was thinking of going down the tiling window manager route.

Does anyone have a list of what "kind" of apps/features I'm going to need to install separately if I go with a WM rather than my usual Gnome or KDE experience? Like a file manager, login manager, etc.

Thanks in advance - my google abilities were failing me, lol. Happy to just get pointed at a video or other resource (RTFM!) if easier.

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DistroTube
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Re: If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by DistroTube » Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:41 pm

You may need:
  • compositor (compton)
  • wallpaper setter (nitrogen or feh)
  • GTK theme app (lxappearance)
  • a panel
  • a systray (if the panel doesn't have one builtin)
  • network manager
  • volumeicon
  • clipboard manager
Just some things that come to mind.

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fossegrim
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Re: If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by fossegrim » Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:48 pm

Time
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Krellnus
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Re: If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by Krellnus » Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:21 am

falconreeve wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:16 pm
Hi everyone,

I used to play around with Linux years ago but always just used a DE. Having started watching some of DT's vids (which are great!), I was thinking of going down the tiling window manager route.

Does anyone have a list of what "kind" of apps/features I'm going to need to install separately if I go with a WM rather than my usual Gnome or KDE experience? Like a file manager, login manager, etc.

Thanks in advance - my google abilities were failing me, lol. Happy to just get pointed at a video or other resource (RTFM!) if easier.
To expand on what DT posted
  • Compositor (if you want, what DT would call "Whizz-Bang Effects", things like; transparency, motion blur and the like) Picom and Compton are the most commonly used, but there is also Compiz and Xcompmgr
  • Wallpaper Setter (to set the desktop background) Nitrogen is a more 'full-featured' program, feh is a minimalist program that is called from the command line.[*}GTK theme app (This is probably optional, I've had no issues just setting the GTK theme files manually) lxappearance is what I've seen most people use.
  • Panel and Systray, the panel is what most people immediately think of as the 'bar', the systray is where the little app icons (what would be in the bottom right on windows from memory),. DWM's Panel does not come with this by default, nor does Xmobar (the default recommended bar for Xmonad) but the various i3 panels come with a systray by default and polybar has a systray module that can be turned on. My recommendation would probably be to use polybar as it's WM agnostic (for the most part).
  • Network Manager, exactly what it sounds like, it manages your wired and wireless networks, the go to program is, funnily enough, called NetworkManager.
  • Volume Icon (probably not actually necessary) most full featured bars have their own implementation of this, and if you're using a more minimalist bar, you're probably reading from ALSA and/or PulseAudio directly
  • Clipboard Manger, I have yet to see anyone use anything other than Xclip, it's simple, lightweight and just works.
  • File Mangers; there's two types you can look at, graphical and terminal, graphical is exactly what you're used to, the popular ones are PCmanfm, Thunar and Nemo, terminal file managers, these are all basically updated clones/inspired by and old program called Midnight Commander, the two most popular are Ranger and lf, they typically offer more efficient workflows than graphical programs.
  • Login Mangers: Not strictly necessary, but they make the login in process significantly easier, the most common I've seen is LightDM, they are typically called Display Managers which may have been why you couldn't find anything on Google.
  • Program Runner: The single most important program you'll need running a tiling window manager, since everything is keyboard driven, these programs provide an interface that uses the keyboard. The most common of these is by far Suckless' DMenu (so much so, virtually every WM assume's you have it installed), which can be found in most repos, but it is recommended you build it from source (it's not that scary I promise!) but there is also Rofi which certainly looks far nicer.
  • Notification Manager: Something that allows your system to send you dialogues, usually using the notify-send command.
I know it might seem like a lot to take in, but it's actually a lot less than what it looks like, to get an idea on what installing this stuff looks like pretty much everyone under the sun has done videos on installing the graphical environment.

If you feel overwhelmed, there's no shame in starting with a more minimal desktop environment like XFCE and then just installing the WM separately. This has the added advantage of having everything you'll need pretty installed from the outset and gives you a backup graphical environment should things go a bit awry.

falconreeve
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Re: If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by falconreeve » Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:28 pm

Thanks DT and everyone - some really useful info there (and yes, the "time" answer - hah!)

I think I will just start with what Krellnus has recommended TBH - I might even start with a full DE (like Gnome) and then install the WM in parallel so I can play around with it and get familiar with the functionality. Once I am happy, I'll move over to a fresh install with something more lightweight.

For the Network Manager - I presume lack of network manager doesn't mean that I will have no network whatsoever? In other words, if I configure it via the terminal, or in a DE, then those settings will persist, I just won't be able to change them via the WM until I have a Network Manager installed? If that makes sense.

Thanks again

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Krellnus
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Re: If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by Krellnus » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:21 pm

falconreeve wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:28 pm
Thanks DT and everyone - some really useful info there (and yes, the "time" answer - hah!)

I think I will just start with what Krellnus has recommended TBH - I might even start with a full DE (like Gnome) and then install the WM in parallel so I can play around with it and get familiar with the functionality. Once I am happy, I'll move over to a fresh install with something more lightweight.

For the Network Manager - I presume lack of network manager doesn't mean that I will have no network whatsoever? In other words, if I configure it via the terminal, or in a DE, then those settings will persist, I just won't be able to change them via the WM until I have a Network Manager installed? If that makes sense.

Thanks again
You certainly don't need to have a Network Manager installed, it just makes a process that is really tedious, a good bit easier, especially when dealing with wireless networks and you need to manage network names and passwords.

Fortunately most DEs will just install Network Manager (and it's systray add-on, nm-applet) so that stuff works out of the box.

I can't tell you if manually managing networks persists or not, suffice it to say that networking on Linux can be quite complex. If you want to take a gander at your own leisure than I recommend you look at.
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Ne ... figuration

falconreeve
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Re: If I use a WM instead of a DE, what extra stuff will I need?

Post by falconreeve » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:19 pm

Cool, thanks again! Appreciate the help.

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