DE (Desktop Enviroment)/WM (Window Manager) for ToriOS

Registered by amjjawad  on 2014-01-15

### Important Notes ###

* LXDE and XFCE are both out of the question :)

Reason 1: ToriOS is NOT Lubuntu
Reason 2: XFCE is not as lightweight as what we are trying to achieve with ToriOS

** The DE/WM that we shall choose must be supported for Long Term (LTS) meaning if ToriOS version 1 will be based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS then the chosen DE/WM MUST be supported for LTS as well.

*** NO Tiling Window Manager - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager#List_of_tiling_window_managers_for_X

Please don't waste your time and test that. It would be harder for newcomers to Linux to use that. We had agreed about that already.

### Important Note ###
===================================================

The title says it all. This blueprint to discuss our possible options for super lightweight, fast and simple DE/WM yet nice and configurable.

Please be informed that I am not interested to use LXDE at all (nor any of LXDE components) so one option here is out :)

Also, please be advised that despite that fact this project is very basic, very simple, very minimal, very lightweight and has few packages, the DE/WM should be nice and not ugly or keep users away.

Definitely, there is a GUI for ToriOS - it is not going to use CLI as the default interface.

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Blueprint information

Status:
Started
Approver:
ToriOS
Priority:
Essential
Drafter:
amjjawad 
Direction:
Needs approval
Assignee:
ToriOS
Definition:
Discussion
Series goal:
None
Implementation:
Good progress
Milestone target:
None
Started by
amjjawad  on 2014-02-08

Related branches

Sprints

Whiteboard

### Important Notes ###

* LXDE and XFCE are both out of the question :)

Reason 1: ToriOS is NOT Lubuntu
Reason 2: XFCE is not as lightweight as what we are trying to achieve with ToriOS

** The DE/WM that we shall choose must be supported for Long Term (LTS) meaning if ToriOS version 1 will be based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS then the chosen DE/WM MUST be supported for LTS as well.

*** NO Tiling Window Manager - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager#List_of_tiling_window_managers_for_X

Please don't waste your time and test that. It would be harder for newcomers to Linux to use that. We had agreed about that already.

### Important Note ###
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[f-jack]Could we do xfce?
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[Brian Kanto] As I understand it, the goal is to replace XP.. Though, I do not think the goal is a near duplicate, like zoran, it shoud have some points that make XP users feel comfortable. Xfce can do this, but it is not that light. I have not used much stuff lighter than Lxde, but I belive open box can be made to look similar and be lighter on the resources. So, I guess, it comes to how light we want it. A few Xp computers, have only 128MB. That would be tough on XP. My friends over at Bodhi, chose enightenment. It is well done, but seemed a bit closed for me. I would love to hear from some openbox experts.
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[israeldahl] if we use openbox, there NEEDS to be a GUI to configure the rc.xml file.
I am thinking specifically of the keyboard. gdialog/bash could work for this (like Puppy does for JWM) It might be nice to do an all-in-one sort of configuration window, like the XP control panel. Or course anyone who is really good at C++ could chime in!
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[tausif-0593] I would suggest enlightenment 17/18; e17 is a solid choice given that Bodhi linux has a non-pae iso with e17 specifically. I have not explored e18 but it definitely seems to be a build on e17 with alot of enhancements. But if we do end up with openbox, it would be quite an interesting trip given that it is very possible to have nice looking ui.
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[Mélodie] Hi, it will be Openbox, at least as long as I dedicate myself to make the first ISO(s) which will be available for testing and modifying soon.

Ali: I would not want to bring systematic contradiction to you, however, if you don't want any component from Lxde I'll be out, because there are at least two of them which I have always used, if not a few more.

They are only a few components which are standalone and don't need depends. We are not going to invent again the wheel, as they say. Some items are very handy and not heavy at all.

The main tool I use in Openbox environments, is one which allows having a very easy to use Openbox desktop. It relies precisely on a lib provided by the Lxde project. ;)

israeldahl: this is what obconf does. It modifies rc.xml. Other gui tools are also available for shortcuts and for menu.xml. They are not recent, however it seems they still work. And we would need some new tools. I will provide a todo on the mailing list once the first ISO will be made available.

One big advantage with Openbox apart from it's lightness and numerous available tools provided for it by the community, is that it is quite versatile and allows changing to other desktops of your like easily.
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[israeldahl] Hi, my main concern is the Keyboard Shortcuts. There is currently no GUI I know of to edit ALL the rc.xml, only the one you spoke of that handles MOST of the xml file. I agree that Openbox is a great choice, as it can incorporate many different things (tint2, awn, docky, cairo, gnome-panel, xfce panel, and of course lxpanel....) and can be highly customized.
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[Mélodie] israeldaht: for keyboard shortcuts some tools exist as gui frontend.

http://code.google.com/p/obkey/
http://lambda.host22.com/?page=keybinder

Almost all the gui tools built around Openbox are aging, not updated, and written in different languages, which when used need to install depends which will make Openbox less light. In the meanwhile some new tools also started to be worked on more recently.
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[zleap] With regard to no cli, will it be easy to be able to switch between boot into cli and gui, it used to be a case of just editing inittab then the line
initdefault:3 for cli or initdefault:5 for gui

Sometimes being able to set things to always boot in to the cli is useful. Maybe there should be a small tool written to do this.
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[amjjawad] It is almost one month for this discussion and we haven't yet decided what DE/WM we shall use?
Well, in order to keep everything as planned for since the very beginning (every decision is based on votes), and at the same time, move forward with this more quickly, the best idea is each and everyone who is part of ToriOS team to:

1- Download Ubuntu Mini ISO 12.04:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/MinimalCD#A32-bit_PC_.28x86.29

2- Create a Virtual Machine - use whatever you like (I prefer Oracle VirtualBox)

3- Choose one of the lightweight DE/WM and PLEASE, update this blueprint AND send an email to the list so someone else won't choose the same DE/WM that you chose.

4- Share your findings and your final opinion whether your test is PASS or FAIL.

5- Keep in mind the target is to have a working system that when Idle, it should be 50MB RAM Usage (Max 60MB).

I will make sure everyone is aware of this new idea.

Thank you!
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[israeldahl] One thing I'd like to mention is the Display manager. When I build Debian from a minimal CD, I do it without installing anything other than the basic CLI interface and build up from there.
So far I have been using SLIM, and I know Ubuntu uses LightDM. I think we should consider this as well with the DE (or WM + whatever). I am assuming we want to use a normal stacking WM, not a tiling WM.

@Ali 50MB with the VM in another DE? Or should we be installing it somewhere? Is there a specific standardized way you would like the reporting data to be gathered? Do we install a taskamanger and take a screen shot, or do we use a CLI tool and pipe it into a file to post here/somewhere?

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[amjjawad] [RE: israeldahl] We can discuss about the Slim or LightDM later because AFAIK, the Display Manager and the DE/WM are not very depending one on the other but I could be wrong.

If you have a spare machine to test, that would be great as 'real' hardware always better. If not, the VM comes in handy.

As for the RAM Usage, I changed the range and it is between 50-60 MB.

'htop' should do the needful.

Thank you!

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[israeldahl] I have a PPC old iBook I can test... and might be able to get something else to test...
I am not sure if the display manager effects Memory Usage much, but it is running (from root)
SHR = 2264
RES = 2408
VIRT = 35044
(for Lightdm... from htop on Lubuntu 14.04 32bit)

So using the ligthestest DM might help the DE have smaller memory footprint, it seems to me
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[amjjawad] [RE: israeldahl] Yes indeed. The Display manager will affect the RAM Usage, that is for sure. If truth to be told, I don't really mind to go 'without' a display manager. If the user can:
Type his/her user name + type his/her password + hit enter + start a GUI = that is really great and not bad IMHO.

After all, the idea of ToriOS is not to give any fancy system to users but a rescue solution for those with NON-PAE machines or those who really adore and appreciate simplicity.

I'm not very sure which Display Manager is the lightest? I am checking 'htop' now on Lubuntu 13.10 installed on real hardware (P4 with less than 512MB RAM - shared with graphics) and I can see 5 different process for LightDM but all these process below 1MB or Memory (I mean each process is less than 1MB not the total).

Unless there is a developer who knows better in these stuff, we can't do much :(
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[joern-schoenyan] Hello everyone! I'm making progress with my preview-iso's I'm creating. For the moment, I'm not using a display manager. You can refer to the everytime awesome Arch Wiki: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Start_X_at_Login

If the user wants a DM, for example for a multi-user setup, he is free to install LightDM or Slim or whatever. That is my opinion. Under that conditions we might be able to stay under the 50 MB RAM limit.
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[amjjawad] [RE: joern-schoenyan] WOW, what a great news :D yes, this is what I personally think as well. It is impossible IMHO to have everything the way we want without some sacrifices - see: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2200017&p=12925218#post12925218

I hope we could achieve something. Keep it up and keep us informed :D YAY :D
Go ahead, I like what you're doing :D
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[f-jack] If someone could build an iso for each of these I will test it on bare metal, I would like for us to evaluate enlightenment, openbox, and jwm.
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[amjjawad] [RE: f-jack] too early for that, my friend :) kindly check the work items below and re-read the emails I sent, please. We do need at the moment to test. So far, we have a result that I shared on Facebook and Google+ of 32MB when idle and that was Debian with JWM. Which means, you for example need to pick another DE/WM and share your findings as per the email. Someone else must choose something else and so on. Please read the emails and if you have any Q, please ask :)
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[amjjawad] Melodie has shared this link with me last night on IRC:
http://crunchbang.org/forums/viewtopic.php?id=18273&p=1

This might help and make life easier - couldn't read it yet - no time - hopefully I can read it soon :)
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[JackT] Just took a look at antiX OS which is Debian-based and uses (among several choices) ROX-IceWM; that is IceWM and ROX Desktop; took a look after install and boot (albeit inside VirtualBox) and at idle it was reporting around 66 MB. Just reporting this for information purposes as it seems somewhat relevant here.
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[WilliamC] Sorry, I accidentally replied to the whiteboard in email. I know I am only vaguely associated with the project now, but I keep seeing Enlightenment come up so I thought I would save you the trouble. I use Enlightenment, specifically Bodhi. I can assure you that (if fully taken advantage of) Enlightenment has the single most complicated interface of any DE, and there is no way to dumb it down. It easily has the steepest learning curve of anything you might consider. It is for power users only, regular users would be completely lost if they start messing with it endless settings. As far as Bodhi and E17 go, Bodhi has a dirty little not so secret secret - Most of their system is proprietary and completely closed source. It is a distant cousin to stock Enlightenment. It is actually their closed source components that make it so awesome - however, they catch a lot of flack for having a largely closed sourced Linux distro. E17 by itself is less than stable and still as complicated. Stock E18 is more stable, but would be just as baffling to a regular user. In short, exploring Enlightenment as a possible DE is a dead end, waste of time road that I advise you do not go down.
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[amjjawad]
@[JackT] Thanks for sharing :) Jorn managed to achieve 45MB as posted earlier. AntiX is indeed a good example to look at but let's not forget it is using Debian and the main aim/target is to use Ubuntu. I am not sure who has picked the DE/WM you have mentioned? people are quiet about what they're testing despite that I have asked to share what they're testing so when someone pick X DE/WM, someone else will pick Y and not X :)

@[WilliamC]
If truth to be told, I don't think I will go for E17 and I don't think we need such a fancy DE.

@Everyone
We do need a WM more than a DE.
Let's KEEP IN MIND that the whole point is to give a working system SO THAT the users ware the ones who will decide what kind of system, look and feel their installed Linux System will look like :)

I have chatted with Alex and he confirmed IIRC (If I Remember Correctly) that we indeed can go with only a WM without a DE.

He will work on a very pre-alpha version next week and will share the ISO link so we can 'see' something :)

Thanks!

P.S.
Thanks to JackT for sharing this:

Part 1: http://l3net.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/a-memory-comparison-of-light-linux-desktops/

Part 2: http://l3net.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/a-memory-comparison-of-light-linux-desktops-part-2/

Part 3: http://l3net.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/a-memory-comparison-of-light-linux-desktops-part-3/
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[amjjawad] the current work is being done on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JWM
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[israeldahl]
I'd like to close this and say JWM has been decided on, with rox-filer to support desktop icons. We need to now focus on default applications

(?)

Work Items

Work items:
1- Email sent to the whole team of ToriOS - https://lists.launchpad.net/torios/msg00391.html AND message posted on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/amjjawad/) and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101281875711197058405) : DONE
2- Reminder Sent to the mailing list and posted on the Social Media as well - https://lists.launchpad.net/torios/msg00425.html : DONE
** 3- ** The DE/WM that we shall choose must be supported for Long Term (LTS) meaning if ToriOS version 1 will be based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS then the chosen DE/WM MUST be supported for LTS as well : INPROGRESS
4- The current work is being done on JWM - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JWM : INPROGRESS

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