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How to get by without using a tiling WM

August 30, 2022

How do I do without a tiling Window Manager, after several months of using i3 and Regolith? A few weeks ago I started wondering whether I should give Sway a try now that Ubuntu defaults to Wayland and Gnome 42. However, I held back with the idea of better familiarizing myself with Ubuntu’s default WM. After all, I don’t have big requirements in terms of desktop management: I use a single workspace most of the time, I prefer to have windows maximized on screen or split side by side full-screen, there’s a launcher right under Super+S or Super+A which means I can just start typing the name of the application I want and press Enter, and the Super+Tab hot key allows me to switch between applications very easily. This is very much in spirit with points raised by Josh Sherman some time ago.

Yet I do not like the Snap system (nor the idea of sandboxed applications tied to an OS, as Apple did) and I removed all components on my previous install. They were not reinstalled when I upgraded to LTS 22.04. And I still feel more comfortable with terminal-oriented applications, or TUIs.

Anyway, here are some of the settings on my machine. First, as I said, I stand by maximized windows most of the time. When the application is up, if it is not maximized I can simply Super+Up to make it so. When I have two windows on screen, I can arrange them maximized and side by side using Super+Left and Super+Right. I yet have to find a way to automate this a little since at present I must hover on each window separately.

I also use the gorgeous Nord theme for Gnome, which you can activate as follows:

% gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme "Nordic"
% gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme "Nordic"

It goes without saying that this changes the visual experience a lot.

Overall, I find that Gnome shell has been greatly improved over time, and it is now good enough for intensive daily use. I could hide Gnome terminal2 window border as well (e.g., gsettings set org.gnome.Terminal.Legacy.Settings headerbar false), but I found that just going fullscreen (F11) is usually enough. I like the system tray icons, which is compact and remains interactive, and, contrary to polybar, I don’t have to bother configuring brightness, sound control, battery status, network settings and VPN myself.

♪ Foals • My Number

  1. This can be done as follows: (forgot where I found the trick, sorry!)

    gsettings set autohide false
    gsettings set dock-fixed false\
    gsettings set intellihide false
  2. By the way, you can see or backup all your Terminal settings using dconf dump /org/gnome/terminal/ > gnome_terminal_settings_backup.txt↩︎

See Also

» Usenet newsgroups with Neomutt » More Neomutt little hacks » Migrating to Systemd » Starship » Of signals and trap