Ratpoison Window Manager

As I've used emacs more and more, after a few months trying to compose LaTeX documents with LyX, I'm enjoying less and less using non-keyboard input devices (so-called “mice”). So I was intrigued by Ratpoison, a Linux1) window manager called ratpoison. I learned of it via Ubuntu Lite installation, which also provides lots of other interesting suggestions.

ratpoison landing and link page, found via search engine, which includes a download link for the stable release (tar.gzip) and a link to the ratpoison project page.

Ratpoison takes some getting used to, learning the shortcut keys, but first one has to get it to work.

Synaptic (Canonical) Package

The “easy way” is to use the Synaptic package manager. As of today (2 September 2011) the current version for Ubuntu 10.10 is 1.4.5-2. The problem with the easy way is that after the installation, ratpoison is not an option in the login screen of Gnome. The reason seems to be a file that is not installed in '/usr/share/xsessions/' with the initial configuration settings for a desktop.

For instance, gnome (on my system) has this configuration file

cat /usr/share/xsessions/gnome.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Ubuntu Desktop Edition
Comment=This session logs you into GNOME

One such file for ratpoison found (at Gentoo Wiki archives) looks like this:

cat /usr/share/xsessions/ratpoison.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Minimalistic Window Manager

The one I ended up installing, and works (though I make no claims that it is the *right* way to configure), is

$ cat ratpoison.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Start Ratpoison as your window manager


As per instructions seen somewhere and promptly forgotten because the information is so obvious once one knows the answer, the way I start ratpoison is the easy way. It is certainly possible to do otherwise, switching window manager without restarting everything, but I'll have to find out how before sharing. Maybe killing or halting gnome, then starting ratpoison, but need one also restart X11? Later.

Easy way: restart the session and, on the (Gnome) Ubuntu login screen, locate a little fly-up menu in the gray bar at the screen bottom with proposed window managers: choose ratpoison, then log in.


Custom configuration

According to the ratpoison documentation, it is possible – for those with way too much time on their hands and very special needs or desires – to customize ratpoison. I suppose, and intend to investigate soon, that maybe I can replace the standard invocation prefix C-t by something requiring less stretching. For instance, why not use the menu key often nestled between the Ctrl and Alt keys? FIXME : figure out how to do this.

1) and probably BSD, but I haven't checked because I'm not currently using a BSD
ubuntu/ratpoison.txt · Dernière modification: 2011/09/02 11:46 par suitable
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