7. Your graphical environment

7.1. Motivation and plan

7.2. The pillars of X11

The traditional pillars of the X window system:

  • The X server.

  • The Xlib library.

  • The client programs (xterm, xload, xdpyinfo, xlsfonts, and many nowadays-useles programs like xman and xmore).

  • The window manager (a client, but with a special role defined by some protocols).

Nowadays there is another pillar: the “desktop environment”.

7.3. Window focus

Experiment (in the desktop settings “window behavior” section, or in CCSM’s general config) with “focus follows mouse” and “focus on click”. Find the one that works best for you.

7.4. Keyboard behavior

What are “modifiers”? control, meta (also called alt), super, other special keys on modern keyboards.

It’s good (especially for emacs and anything where you use the control key) to have the “caps lock” key give a control instead of caps lock.

Two ways of setting the caps lock to be a control key (which is great for bash and emacs).

Bindings with the GUI: bring up “settings -> keyboard -> layouts -> options” and look for the “Ctrl position”. The option should be called something like “Caps Lock as Ctrl”.

Bindings from the command line, using xmodmap:

Here is a program which I call ctlctl which turns the caps lock key into another control key.

xmodmap - <<EOF
! make Caps_Lock be a left control key
remove Lock = Caps_Lock
keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L
add Lock = Caps_Lock
add Control = Control_L

7.5. Trying at least one other desktop environment

Many people run the gnome3 desktop in ubuntu 18.04. The experiment here is to try running a different desktop, like mate or xfce.

For mate you can install it with:

sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop

which will give you the ability to pick either gnome3 or mate when you log in. Check it out, look at how you customize the keyboard settings and so forth.

7.6. Compositing and trying a couple of window managers

Install compiz and some auxiliary packages:

sudo apt install compiz compiz-mate compiz-gnome
sudo apt install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins-extra

7.7. Trying other desktop environments