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Old 14th December 2013
shep shep is offline
Real Name: Scott
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Join Date: May 2008
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Default Package lists/Config files for Lightweight Desktop/Funding Option

I saw that the forum admins were looking at funding options and had a thought of a product that the community can provide.

It is based on this FreeBSD thread.

I have put this together as a Full Featured Desktop in Debian, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Arch Linux and it is relatively hardware agnostic.

I use it as my main workstation in OpenBSD 5.4. Basic features are:
OpenBox, Tint2 configured with Osmo, Wbar configured for most common desktop tasks (Firefox-esr, Claws-Mail, rxvt-unicode w/ optional tabs, midnight commander, LibreOffice and Ncmpc). I use some terminal based apps (mc, ncmpc, gvim, gview, mutt until it began core dumping in current, abook) that I have configured for a consistent color scheme/appearence/ and updated mime types in mc. A variation could be generated using all gui based apps (leafpad editor, xfe/pcmanfm, sonata) and a lighweight office options (abiword/gnumeric/xpdf)

It would be relatively simple in OpenBSD to generate a list of packages to feed to pkg_add and post the list in addition to configuration scripts. With some thought and planning, a forum section could be set up that would provide the package list(s) and their corresponding config files. The "product" could be maintained/tweaked/updated by the community and donations solicited by those who use the product.

I am willing to provide my file list/config as a start and others (fluxbox, jwm, spectrumwm) could do the same.

Last edited by shep; 14th December 2013 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 16th December 2013
shep shep is offline
Real Name: Scott
Arp Constable
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Dry and Dusty
Posts: 1,508

Some added thoughts.

The impetus for this came from installing RHEL 7 beta with the Gnome 3.8 desktop. This was to get a sense of where industry was pushing desktop development. As most are aware, Antoine Jacoutot has made a monumental effort to port Gnome to OpenBSD and I also installed and tried out Gnome 3.10 in current.

I have 6 major issues with where things are headed:
1) The interface requires video acceleration - in OpenBSD this means a supported Intel or Radeon video chip
2) I felt the interface was not efficient for several reasons: It required two clicks on some relatively small screen areas to open commonly used applications. Applications that are not "favorites" take 4 clicks +/- scrolling of the desktop. The desktop that I am using requires 1 click for a common application in an area that is approximately 6x larger than in gnome. Less common applications are started with 2 clicks. To open 2 terminals, occupying the same work space in gnome, took 4 clicks and 3 pointer excursions and that was after I made gnome terminal a favorite. In my desktop it took 1 excursion and 2 clicks. Non-favorite applications take a click, a short excursion and another click.
3) On the same system, Intel 330 atom with 2GB memory, there was significant lag between mouse over and the mouse click activating in Gnome while in the lightweight desktop, it was for all intensive purposes instantaneous. The same system also shows lag with Fedora19/Xfce but not with OpenBSD-current/E17.
4) The lightweight desktop at idle uses 65mb memory, Gnome uses well over 300mb.
5) With the exception of the empathy office collaboration client, I feel that I largely duplicate the functionality of Gnome with this desktop.
6. There is lightweight Desktop development occuring but by and large it is BSD unfriendly. For example in both E17 and LXDE, mixer control applets require ALSA or PULSE and there has been no effort, as far as I can tell, to directly port to sndio. Filemanagers are hal/udev dependent.

Proposed Goals:
1) The desktop would utilize existing tools for installation and existing packages for the latest release.
2) The desktop will be BSD friendly and as hardware agnostic as possible. Visual appearance will take a lower precedence than efficency and functionality. AV applications that support sndio will be preferred. A prominent warning that the flash video plugin is not supported will be present.
3) As opposed to the FreeBSD howto, no preference is given to the toolkit. The major upshot of this is that Qt based LibreOffice will be the preferred office suite while the base window manager will be gtk2/gtk3 based. Recommended applications will be chosen based on their stability, functionality and active development in OpenBSD. As in the FreeBSD howto, package installation will be broken down into groups (base/system config tools, internet, development, office, audiovisual, sysutils (terminals, editors file managers).
4) I am leaning toward enabling the freely provided M:tier sources in PKG_PATH. This would bring OpenBSD reputation for security into the value of the desktop. Users would have a relatively current desktop with 6 months of security updates for packages. This results in the use of firefox-esr.
5) Initially there will be few options on packages selection, although if the project grows options can be added. For example a gtk based office suite using abiword/gnumeric could be an option for those with older hardware.

Basic Structure:
1) Modeled after Linux from scratch and the FreeBSD howto. Essentially, copy/paste lists generated by pkg_info -m > list and feed that file into pkg_add -l. As an example, the base desktop, would have openbox, tint2, liberation fonts, wbar, osmo and the configuration tools obmenu, obconf, rxvt-unicode and a gui based editor. Example configuration files can be copied and pasted into the appropriate directories. This would updateable for corrections, feature additions etc. based on user posts in that thread. Base configuration files (/etc/rc.conf.local, ~/.profile, ~/.Xdefaults, ~/.config/openbox, .wbar, ~/.config/tint2/tint2rc. When reasonable, base applications (xdm, xcalc, xterm) will be used and tweaked to be consistent with the desktop.
2) A short rationalization of the choices (ie claws-mail provides vcalendar/ical compatibility and an optional plugin to view html mails). Informative/Educational aspects will be included in the entry. For example how the desktop background color is set in ~/.config/openbox/autostart and a link to wikipedia entries on X11 colors.
3) I am thinking that it would be started off as a howto for just the base install to see how it goes. If it is successful perhaps a new section can be added to the forums. Since I put hours into assembling this, I might as well share it. If it can be used to help support the forums all the better.
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