10 Essential Tools and Utilities for Standalone Window Manager Users

10 Essential Tools and Utilities for Standalone Window Manager Users

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Standalone window managers are minimal software that does not ship with much of the basic toolkit which an everyday Linux user requires which are found in more feature-rich desktop environments such as Gnome and KDE.

If you are a minimalistic window manager user like I am, then this article is for you. Here I am going to discuss the top 10 essential tools and utilities which you will need to install along with your window manager. Let's begin.

Xterm: Terminal Emulator.

Xterm is a terminal emulator for the X Window systems. It is a graphical tool that runs on Linux and Unix-like operating systems which allows users to interact with their shell. It is highly configurable and can be customized as per the user's needs.

Many people don't find X term fancy and it is rarely used. But I suggest you at least install it and keep it as it is even if you don't use it. The reason behind this is that many of the classical applications or those with a command line interface expect X term as one of their dependencies.

Thunar: File Manager.

Thunar is a file manager for the X Window System. Thunar is a default file manager in the XFCE DE but it can be installed in any other system due to its minimalistic nature. Thunar has a simple, clean and easy-to-use interface that is easy to navigate.

Thunar is designed to be fast and efficient and therefore uses relatively fewer resources. Some of the features are:

  • Customizable: Thunar allows users to customize various aspects of its appearance and behavior, such as the layout of the user interface, the actions that are available in the context menu, and the behavior of the file manager when certain events occur.

  • Supports a wide range of file operations: Thunar allows users to perform a variety of file operations, including copy, move, delete, rename, and create symbolic links.

  • Supports a wide range of file types: Thunar can handle a wide range of file types, including regular files, directories, symlinks, and special files such as devices and sockets.

  • Supports plug-ins: Thunar has a plug-in system that allows users to extend its functionality by installing additional plug-ins.

  • Supports multiple languages: Thunar is available in a wide range of languages and can be easily translated into other languages.

VIM: Text Editor.

Vim (Vi IMproved) is a free and open-source text editor that is widely used in the Unix and Linux communities. Vim is known for its powerful features and efficient user interface, and it is often used as a more feature-rich alternative to the standard Unix text editor, vi.

Vim is a modal text editor, which means that it has different modes for performing different types of tasks. For example, Vim has a normal mode for entering and executing commands, an insert mode for inserting text, and a visual mode for selecting and manipulating text.

Trayer: System Tray.

Trayer is a lightweight system tray for the X Window System. Trayer allows users to display small icons for various system and application tray icons in a bar that is typically located at the edge of the screen.

Some of the features and specialties of trayer include:

  • Lightweight: trayer is designed to be lightweight and consumes relatively few system resources.

  • Customizable: trayer allows users to customize various aspects of its appearance and behavior, such as the size and position of the tray, the icons that are displayed, and the colors and fonts that are used.

  • Support for multiple tray icons: trayer can display multiple tray icons in a single tray, which allows users to keep track of multiple applications and system services.

  • Support for transparency: trayer allows users to set the tray to be transparent, which can be useful if you want to see the windows and icons behind the tray.

nm-applet: Network Manager.

nm-applet is a graphical frontend for the NetworkManager daemon, which is a software utility that is used to manage the network connections on a computer running a Unix-like operating system. nm-applet is typically used in desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE, and it allows users to easily configure and manage their network connections using a graphical user interface.

By adding nm-applet in your autostart script (which is available in many famous window managers) you can have it visible in your system tray. This will be a handy tool to manage networks faster and more quickly.

Some of the features and specialties of nm-applet include:

  • Easy to use: nm-applet provides a simple and intuitive user interface that allows users to easily configure and manage their network connections.

  • Support for a wide range of network connections: nm-applet can manage a wide range of network connections, including Ethernet, WiFi, mobile broadband, and VPN connections.

  • Automatic connection management: nm-applet can automatically connect to and disconnect from network connections based on various criteria, such as the availability of the network, the quality of the connection, and the user's preferences.

Nitrogen: Wallpaper Application.

Nitrogen is a desktop background utility for the X Window System. Nitrogen allows users to set the background image for their desktop, and it provides various options for customizing the appearance of the background.

Nitrogen is developed as open-source software, which means that the source code is available for anyone to view and modify. This has led to a large and active community of developers and users who contribute to the development and improvement of Nitrogen. Some of the features and specialties of Nitrogen include:

  • Support for multiple desktop environments: Nitrogen can be used on a wide range of desktop environments, including GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and more.

  • Support for multiple image formats: Nitrogen can display a wide range of image formats, including JPEG, PNG, GIF, and more.

  • Previews: Nitrogen allows users to preview the background image before setting it as the desktop background.

Compton: Compositor.

Compton is a compositing window manager for the X Window System. Compton allows users to apply various visual effects to their windows and desktop, and it is often used to improve the appearance and performance of desktop environments such as GNOME, KDE, and Xfce.

Some of the features and specialties of Compton include:

  • Support for multiple desktop environments: Compton can be used on a wide range of desktop environments that use the X Window System.

  • Support for multiple visual effects: Compton can apply various visual effects to windows and the desktop, such as transparency, fading, and shadows.

  • Customizable: Compton allows users to customize various aspects of its behavior and appearance, such as the visual effects that are applied and the performance settings.

  • Lightweight and efficient: Compton is designed to be lightweight and efficient, and it consumes relatively few system resources.

Lux: Brightness Control.

Lux is a software application that adjusts the color temperature of a computer's display based on the time of day. Lux aims to reduce the amount of blue light that is emitted by the display at night, as blue light is known to interfere with the body's natural sleep patterns. Lux can be used to improve sleep quality and reduce eye strain caused by prolonged use of a computer at night.

Some of the features and specialties of Lux include:

  • Automatic adjustment of color temperature: Lux can automatically adjust the color temperature of the display based on the time of day.

  • Customizable: Lux allows users to customize various aspects of its behavior, such as the color temperature settings, the transition times, and the level of warmth.

  • Supports multiple displays: Lux can be used on systems with multiple displays and allows users to specify different settings for each display.

  • Available on multiple platforms: Lux is available for a wide range of operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and more.

Suckless Tools.

The Suckless tools are a collection of simple, lightweight, and customizable software applications that are developed and maintained by the Suckless community. The Suckless tools are designed to be minimalistic and efficient, and they focus on providing the core functionality that is needed for a task without any unnecessary features or bloat.

Some of the popular Suckless tools include:

  • st: A terminal emulator that is designed to be simple, lightweight, and customizable.

  • dmenu: A generic menu application that can be used to quickly launch other applications or execute commands.

  • surf: A lightweight and minimalistic web browser.

fish: Shell.

Fish (Friendly Interactive Shell) is a Unix shell that is designed to be user-friendly and interactive. Fish is known for its syntax highlighting, auto-suggestions, and tab completions, which make it easy to use and navigate. It also has several features that are designed to make it easier to use the shell and write shell scripts, such as support for universal variables, built-in functions, and more.

Some of the features and specialties of Fish include:

  • Syntax highlighting: Fish highlights different parts of the command line (such as commands, arguments, and variables) using different colors to make the command line easier to read and understand.

  • Auto-suggestions: Fish provides auto-suggestions for commands and arguments as you type, which can save time and reduce errors.

  • Tab completions: Fish provides tab completions for commands, arguments, and file names, which can save time and reduce typing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many different tools and utilities available for users of standalone window managers. These tools can be used to improve the functionality and usability of a standalone window manager, and they can be customized to meet the specific needs of the user.

Each of these tools has its own unique features and specialties, and choosing the right tools for your needs will depend on your personal preferences and the tasks you need to perform. Overall, these tools can greatly enhance the user experience when using a standalone window manager.

And as always, keep reading, keep exploring and keep learning.