[xmonad] Going Gnomeless (and Unityless on Oneiric)

Yitzchak Gale gale at sefer.org
Tue Jan 17 08:50:23 CET 2012

Just for comparison, I have the following situation:

I have a desktop computer running natty. I use it mostly
myself, and I prefer xmonad with no desktop environment.
Sometimes other family members log in; they use the
off-the-shelf Unity desktop environment. Some of them
are children, with the requirement that Internet access
be disabled by default when they log in.

We have gdm as the login manager. To keep Internet
access under control, I uninstalled network-manager
and nm-applet completely and use the traditional
init.d script. The network connection is wifi; it's a
fixed access point, so it's hard-coded in /etc/networks
and the init.d script brings it up just fine.

One problem I have when running without a desktop
environment is that evil gnome applications tend to invoke
each other silently behind the scenes. That can lead to
a system crash even from non-gnome applications.
For example, when I click on a link to a PDF in Google
Chrome, if the PDF has "rich" features in it Chrome
opens it in Evince. That in turn quietly launches
gnome-screensaver in the background. Well, I already
have xscreensaver running, so the next time I leave
the computer idle for a few minutes, it freezes.

I use .xsession for myself, whereas other users do
things the usual Unity way. For my own xmonad
session, I wrote a custom .desktop file for it that invokes
a shell script rather than xmonad directly.
The shell script just sources my .xsession and then
execs xmonad.

Ivan Lazar Miljenovic wrote:
> And GDM seems to require almost all of Gnome installed nowadays (which
> is why I uninstalled it and went with lxdm)

Interesting. Do you think lxdm might work better for me?
It certainly would be better from the point of view of my
own desktopless session, but gdm is a better fit for the
other users.

I did have to fight with gdm a bit to get things set up
right, but now it's working OK. I have all of the gnome
dependencies installed anyway for the Unity users.


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