Getting back up to speed with Linu

Published » 2019-07-19

I've been using Linux as my full-time personal OS for the past few months. It's a hit of nostalgia. However, I haven't really had time to configure it in detail. After a few hours walking down memory lane, I finally have things configured how I like. Here's what I changed.


I switched from gnome-terminal (Ubuntu default) to rxvt-unicode. Doing so required tweaking a lot of defaults in ~/.Xresources. I specified the Zenburn theme as the default as it works all times of day. I also picked a large font for my 1980x1080 resolution so I don't strain my eyes. Funnily enough, this simple configuration is very similar to a lot of the paid for apps on the iOS App Store that let you write with little distractions.

xlsfont can be used to list available fonts to place in your ~/.Xresources. Alternatively, you can use the "xft:" specification to reference TrueType fonts with their human readable name.

Window manager

For the window manager, I migrated my entire workflow back to the light-weight work-horse that is dwm. Dwm has been my favourite window manager since I first bootstrapped a Gentoo installation back in 2008 (see my old blog on Wordpress to read more about it).

However, this wasn't without some difficulties as Ubuntu does provide a full-fledged experience through Unity. I had to install/configure the following programs to bring me back up to speed.

  • Backlight. I installed xbacklight to configure the backlight. Incarnation is "xbacklight -set %". I can later update this to use the Xorg XF86 keys so that Function+Arrow_Up = Brightness_Increment as it does on Ubuntu.
  • Battery. To monitor battery I use the script I wrote below. #!/bin/sh while true; do battery=cpi -b | awk '{print $4}' | sed 's/,//' uptime=ptime -p xsetroot -name "$battery | $uptime" sleep 5s done
  • Wifi. I patched dwm with the dwm systray patch available on and then added nm-applet (default network manager that comes with Ubuntu) to my start up script. This way I still get a fully featured network manager that doesn't load all of Gnome.
  • Loading apps. I use dmenu which is a standard part of the suckless-utils.

All in all, switching back to dwm has improved my productivity by a noticeable amount as I spend less time managing windows and more time writing content.