Tag Archives: xorg

FreeBSD Desktop – Part 25 – Configuration – Random Terminal Theme

Some time ago when I was mostly writing about Openbox setup I also showed how to setup xterm(1) so it will start with new random theme with each start. Since then I reworked that feature a little and also added random theme and background selection for urxvt(1) terminal. This post will guide you through the needed steps to make that setup working.


You may want to check other articles in the FreeBSD Desktop series on the FreeBSD Desktop – Global Page where you will find links to all episodes of the series along with table of contents for each episode’s contents.

I already once wrote about random xterm(1) themes in the FreeBSD Desktop – Part 12 – Configuration – Openbox part – but I really wanted to expand that topic and also include other terminals.

After trying many terminal emulators – some more bulky like Konsole/GNOME Terminal/XFCE Terminal/MATE Terminal – some more lightweight like st(1)/rox-term(1)/eterm(1)/… – I always went back to the most old-school and basic one – good old xterm(1) terminal. Mostly because of its good compatibility with all UNIX systems – especially the older ones like IBM AIX or HP-UX. I do not remember last time when I had to manage these archaic systems but the respect for xterm(1) remains.


The other one that always got my attention was urxvt(1) terminal. Unfortunately it has some issues with fonts rendering – making larger spaces between the lines and making fonts bigger for example – but as I also like bitmap fonts like CLEAN or FIXED – so I use bitmap fonts for urxvt(1).

Recently also sakura(1) got my attention – but it’s theming possibilities are even more limited then xterm(1) with themes/colors hardcoded directly into the source code. That is why I will omit it in this article – but I mention it since its also nice terminal.

This is the Table of Contents for this article.

  • xterm(1)
    • Proper Font Selection
    • Selecting Text for Copy/Paste
    • Selection Buffers and Keyboard Shortcuts
    • Increase/Decrease Font Size on the Fly
    • Copy/Paste with [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[C/V]
    • Interactive Menus
    • Random xterm(1) Theme
  • urxvt(1)
    • Tabbed Interface
    • Daemon and Client Mode
    • Random urxvt(1) Theme and Background
  • sakura(1)
    • Different sakura(1) Themes
  • RAM Usage Comparison
  • CPU Time Usage Comparison


First lest start with some reasonable configuration in the ~/.Xdefaults file. Alternatively some people use ~/.Xresources file. You can use any of them. Just pick one and stick to it.

! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  xterm*allowBoldFonts:     true
  xterm*allowWindowOps:     true
  xterm*boldMode:           false
  xterm*charClass:          33:48,35:48,37:48,43:48,45-47:48,64:48,95:48,126:48,35:48,58:48,63:48,61:48,44:48,38:48,59:48
  xterm*cursorBlink:        false
  xterm*cutNewline:         true
  xterm*faceName:           consolas
  xterm*faceSize:           11
  xterm*fastScroll:         true
  xterm*fullscreen:         false
  xterm*iconHint:           /home/vermaden/.icons/vermaden/xterm.xpm
  xterm*internalBorder:     1
  xterm*jumpScroll:         true
  xterm*keepSelection:      true
  xterm*loginShell:         true
  xterm*metaSendsEscape:    true
  xterm*multiScroll:        true
  xterm*omitTranslation:    fullscreen
  xterm*on4Clicks:          group
  xterm*on5Clicks:          page
  xterm*saveLines:          1024000
  xterm*scaleHeight:        1.0
  xterm*scrollKey:          true
  xterm*scrollTtyOutput:    false
  xterm*selectToClipboard:  true
  xterm*SimpleMenu*font:    -*-clean-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-2
  xterm*termName:           xterm-256color
  xterm*title:              xterm
  xterm*veryBoldColors:     14
  xterm*VT100*geometry:     150x40
  xterm*VT100*translations: #override                                             \n\
                            <btn1up>: select-end(PRIMARY, CLIPBOARD, CUT_BUFFER0) \n\
                            Ctrl <key> minus: smaller-vt-font()                   \n\
                            Ctrl <key> plus: larger-vt-font()                     \n\
                            Ctrl Shift <key> C: copy-selection(CLIPBOARD)         \n\
                            Ctrl Shift <key> V: insert-selection(CLIPBOARD)

I will not discuss all possible settings as they are well described in the xterm(1) man page but I will comment some more useful and interesting ones.

Proper Font Selection

This advice is not limited to xterm(1) but its worth to mention it. Many times after adding fonts to my system – and renaming them to my ‘standard’ which looks like that one below I was asking myself how to properly specify the variant I need.

% ls -1 ~/.fonts/ubuntu-mono*

The answer to that question comes with fc-match(1) from fontconfig package. Check my ‘queries’ below.

% fc-match consolas:bold
consolas-bold.ttf: "Consolas" "Bold"

% fc-match consolas     
consolas.ttf: "Consolas" "Regular"

% fc-match consolas:bold:italic
consolas-bold-italic.ttf: "Consolas" "Bold Italic"

Selecting Text for Copy/Paste

The xterm*charClass defines which sets of characters should be treated the same when doing cut and paste. Especially with double-clicking the text. The setting above I use is based on 15 years of experience and seems to work best. You are of course encouraged to investigate the CHARACTER CLASSES section of the xterm(1) man page to read more on this topic.

The xterm*on4Clicks and xterm*on5Clicks are not used by default while xterm*on2Clicks are predefined as word and xterm*on3Clicks as line values. This is why I added them so you can select entire group with xterm*on4Clicks and entire page with xterm*on5Clicks option. Alternatively you can also use some fancy regex for some of these ‘CLICKS’ but I never thought about a REGEX that would be useful here – maybe you will come with something sensible.

Here are these ‘CLICKS’ in action.

First the xterm*on2Clicks with word selection. This is when the xterm*charClass is taken into account – what is word and that is not πŸ™‚


Then xterm*on3Clicks with line selection.


Now xterm*on4Clicks with group selection.


Finally the xterm*on5Clicks entire page selection.


Selection Buffers and Keyboard Shortcuts

The last interesting option is xterm.VT100.translations which is used for keyboard shortcuts.

The first one select-end(PRIMARY, CLIPBOARD, CUT_BUFFER0) is better described in the https://davidsimmons.com/soft/xtermhacks/ page from 2005. I will try to short the meritum here. The X11 applications have two different selection buffers:

CLIPBOARD – selection buffer used for cut/paste functions – you select/highlight text and then select Copy from context menu or use [CTRL]+[C] shortcut. Then you use Paste or [CTRL]+[C] shortcut.

PRIMARY – this one receives data when user selects/highlights text with mouse. None other operations such as Copy or Paste are needed. You end selecting the text and its already in PRIMARY buffer. You then paste it with MIDDLE mouse button.

Using the option above selecting/highlighting the text in xterm(1) copies the text into both selection buffers simultaneously. You can now either Paste it info Firefox or hit MIDDLE mouse button to paste it in other xterm(1) terminal. Best of both worlds.

If that setting does not suit you then use the xterm*selectToClipboard instead. When set to true it copies selected text to CLIPBOARD buffer and when set to false it copies selection to the PRIMARY one.

Increase/Decrease Font Size on the Fly

I always missed the shortcuts to decrease or increase font size on the fly in xterm(1) and for many years I believed that its just not possible and then I found some blog post (do not remember which one now of course) in which I found these settings and started to use them.

They are smaller-vt-font() and larger-vt-font() for decrease and increase respectively with [CTRL]+[-] and [CTRL]+[+] shortcuts – keep in mind that [SHIFT] is not used here.

Copy/Paste with [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[C/V]

If by some reason you prefer to copy and paste by using [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[C] and [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[V] shortcuts then copy-selection(CLIPBOARD) and insert-selection(CLIPBOARD) will do the needed job here. As you probably guessed you can use PRIMARY instead of CLIPBOARD here if that is what you desire.

Interactive Menus

The xterm(1) comes with three different interactive menus. I will now show all three of them here with screenshots.

Menu displayed with clicking [CTRL]+[LEFT-MOUSE-BUTTON] in the terminal area.


Menu displayed with clicking [CTRL]+[MIDDLE-MOUSE-BUTTON] in the terminal area.


Menu displayed with clicking [CTRL]+[RIGHT-MOUSE-BUTTON] in the terminal area.


Random xterm(1) Theme

To have random xterm(1) theme on every startup you need four things:

I gathered all these themes all over the Internet, only the VERMADEN and VERMADEN-OLD themes are created by me.

Little preview of some of the included xterm(1) themes.


From now on to have random xterm(1) theme at each start always start it with ~/scripts/xterm.sh script. The script itself is not very complicated. It just draws random theme from the ~/.config/Xdefaults/themes dir – then loads the ~/.Xdefaults config – then merges the colors from chosen random theme – and finally starts new xterm(1) instance.



I use urxvt(1) less often but still sometimes I want to use bitmap fonts instead.


For a start here is the urxvt(1) configuration in the ~/.Xdefaults file.

! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  urxvt.letterSpace:    0.0
! urxvt.font:           xft:monaco:pixelsize=9,style=regular,minspace=True
  urxvt.font:           -*-clean-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-2
  urxvt.boldFont:       -*-clean-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-2
  urxvt.iconFile:       /home/vermaden/.icons/vermaden/xterm.xpm
  urxvt.geometry:       150x40
  urxvt.cutchars:       ,;
  urxvt.scrollBar:      false
  urxvt.imLocale:       en_US.UTF-8
  urxvt.loginShell:     true
  urxvt.saveLines:      1024000
  urxvt.inheritPixmap:  false
  urxvt.shading:        20
  urxvt.xftAntialias:   true
  urxvt.jumpScroll:     true
  urxvt.tintColor:      black
  urxvt.internalBorder: 2
  urxvt.cursorBlink:    false
  urxvt.cursorColor:    #dd9900
  urxvt.cursorColor2:   #000000
  urxvt.colorBD:        #dddddd
  urxvt.colorIT:        #bbbbbb
  urxvt.colorUL:        #999999
  urxvt.underlineColor: #999999

Tabbed Interface

To get tabs in urxvt(1) add the following option to the ~/.Xdefaults configuration file.

  urxvt.perl-ext-common:   default,tabbed

With this option you will open new tab with [SHIFT]+[DOWN] shortcut.

To switch between the tabs left and right use [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[LEFT] and [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[RIGHT] shortcut respectively.

You can also use [CTRL]+[LEFT] and [CTRL]+[RIGHT] to move current tab left and right.

The timeless [CTRL]+[D] – which of course is not a strictly urxvt(1) shortcut but a general shortcut for closing all terminals.


Daemon and Client Mode

The urxvt(1) can be run in special daemon mode where you start one urxvtd(1) server and many urxvtc(1) clients.

% urxvtd
rxvt-unicode daemon listening on /home/vermaden/.urxvt/urxvtd-w520.local.

Now you will start each new urxvt(1) terminal with urxvtc(1) command.

The drawback of that approach is that when urxvtd(1) dies or crashes then also all your urxvtc(1) client terminals disappear πŸ™‚

Random urxvt(1) Theme and Background

To have random urxvt(1) theme and background on every startup you need four things:

Little preview of some of the included urxvt(1) themes and backgrounds.


From now on to have random urxvt(1) theme at each start always start it with ~/scripts/urxvt.sh script. The script for urxvt(1) is little more advanced. First it draws random theme from the ~/.config/Xdefaults/themes dir – then checks if its DARK or LIGHT theme – then draws either random LIGHT or DARK background from the ~/.config/Xdefaults/urxvt dir – finally loads the ~/.Xdefaults config and then merges the colors from chosen LIGHT or DARK theme. Of course then it finally starts new urxvt(1) instance.



The more modern and GTK based sakura(1) also supports tabs. To open new tab use [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[T] shortcut. To switch between the tabs use [CTRL]+[ALT]+[LEFT] and [CTRL]+[ALT]+[RIGHT] shortcuts. You can also move tab between left and right with [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[LEFT] and [CTRL]+[SHIFT]+[RIGHT].


One things that sakura(1) impresses me is that you can scale down its window and then scale that window up and the contents that did not fit in the window after downscalling are back again in the terminal. Doing the same operation in xterm(1) or urxvt(1) terminals will result in these characters being lost. The output is also dynamically ‘fit’ into the new larger window while maintaining the new lines etc. Besides that nice feature it is small and fast and uses relatively small amount of RAM.


Different sakura(1) Themes

If you would also like to start sakura(1) with different theme everytime the options are quite limited here. The palettes and color sets are hardcoded into the sakura(1) source code.

I will not show you how to modify them using the FreeBSD Ports system.

The sakura(1) port is located at /usr/ports/x11/sakura directory. For the record – I use WRKDIRPREFIX option in the /etc/make.conf file. This means that when I type make extract in the /usr/ports/x11/sakura dir the work directory will not be created at /usr/ports/x11/sakura/work directory but at /usr/ports/obj/usr/ports/x11/sakura/work instead. That way I can clean my Ports tree fast by removing the /usr/ports/obj directory.

We will now extract and patch the sakura(1) port on FreeBSD.

% grep WRKDIRPREFIX /etc/make.conf

# cd /usr/ports/x11/sakura

# make patch

# cd /usr/ports/obj/$( pwd )/work/*/src || cd work/*/src

# pwd

# grep -m 1 DEFAULT_PALETTE sakura.c
#define DEFAULT_PALETTE "tango"

# grep -o -E '[a-z]+_palette\[PALETTE_SIZE\]' sakura.c

As you can see the default sakura(1) palette is Tango. Fortunately you can use palette=solarized_dark option in the ~/.config/sakura/sakura.conf config file to change it into Solarized Dark for example.

Besides hardcoded palettes sakura(1) also has several Color Sets.

If you would like to make random theme (from the hardcoded ones) for each start you would have to use this syntax with prepared dedicated config files for each palette.

% sakura --config-file ~/.config/sakura/sakura.solarized_dark.conf --colorset 1 
% sakura --config-file ~/.config/sakura/sakura.tango.conf          --colorset 3

I do not use sakura(1) that much so I was too lazy to write random startup theme script also for it πŸ™‚

Changing sakura(1) palette or color set manually is shown below.




RAM Usage Comparison

Just started xterm(1) terminal takes about 16 MB or RAM as you have seen on the urxvt(1) screenshots. The urxvt(1) started without tabs uses more then 2 TIMES of xterm(1) terminal RAM usage. The urxvt(1) started in tabbed mode uses more then 3 TIMES of xterm(1) terminal RAM usage. The sakura(1) also uses more then 3 TIMES of xterm(1) terminal RAM usage.

Table below shows RAM usage comparison. I have added more feature packed mate-terminal(1) to the list and also added the st(1) minimalistic terminal from Suckless project for compassion.

    64  mate-terminal
    53  sakura
    52  urxvt (tabbed)
    38  urxvt
    16  xterm
    12  st

CPU Time Usage Comparison

I also made simple benchmark of the CPU used. The ‘benchmark’ was to check how much time each terminal would take to print output ofΒ  dmesg | lolcat -b -r command. Here xterm(1) does not shine that much.

0:00.93  xterm
0:00.82  mate-terminal
0:00.52  sakura
0:00.43  urxvt
0:00.23  st

The above ‘benchmark’ was was quite ‘hard’ because of all the colors generated by lolcat(1) command. Lets try something more practical now. We will measure CPU time used to display out of the find find /usr/local/share/doc command.

0:01.34  xterm
0:01.18  mate-terminal
0:00.85  sakura
0:00.32  urxvt
0:00.28  st

Seems that lolcat(1) was not that ‘hard’. The st(1) minimalistic terminal really seems to suck less here πŸ™‚


FreeBSD Desktop – Part 23 – Configuration – Herbe Notifications

I do not use notifications. Dunno really why – seems I just did not needed them. The idea of Do Not Disturb Mode on the desktop/laptop is very strange to me as I ALWAYS work in the Do Not Disturb Mode since I do not use any notifications. Today I came across very small and compact solution for notifications on X11 desktop – herbe – as its author describes it – its daemon-less notifications without D-Bus. Minimal and lightweight.

I was curious if it works on FreeBSD and apparently it is πŸ™‚

Today I will show you how to build, configure and use herbe as part of FreeBSD Desktop series.

You may want to check other articles in the FreeBSD Desktop series on the FreeBSD Desktop – Global Page where you will find links to all episodes of the series along with table of contents for each episode’s contents.


We will use the compact git-lite package from FreeBSD which has less dependencies then the default git package. Then we will clone the herbe repository.

# pkg install git-lite
% git clone https://github.com/dudik/herbe
Cloning into 'herbe'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 228, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (42/42), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (38/38), done.
remote: Total 228 (delta 21), reused 11 (delta 4), pack-reused 186
Receiving objects: 100% (228/228), 152.95 KiB | 272.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (118/118), done.
$ cd herbe
% ls -l
total 23K
-rw-r--r-- 1 vermaden vermaden  650 2021-04-18 19:18 config.def.h
-rw-r--r-- 1 vermaden vermaden 5268 2021-04-18 19:18 herbe.c
-rw-r--r-- 1 vermaden vermaden 1070 2021-04-18 19:18 LICENSE
-rw-r--r-- 1 vermaden vermaden  425 2021-04-18 19:18 Makefile
-rw-r--r-- 1 vermaden vermaden 5578 2021-04-18 19:18 README.md


We will need a tiny one line patch to make it build on FreeBSD.

This FreeBSD patch for Makefile file is available here:

… or diff(1) directly here:

We will now apply that patch.

% fetch https://patch-diff.githubusercontent.com/raw/dudik/herbe/pull/16.diff
% patch < 16.diff 
Hmm...  Looks like a unified diff to me...
The text leading up to this was:
|diff --git a/Makefile b/Makefile
|index 3225e36..69c8efc 100644
|--- a/Makefile
|+++ b/Makefile
Patching file Makefile using Plan A...
Hunk #1 succeeded at 1.

The herbe is now buildable on FreeBSD.

There are also other available patches – herbe patches – available here.

From all of them I find Vertical Stacking patch the most interesting. We will also apply it.

% fetch https://patch-diff.githubusercontent.com/raw/dudik/herbe/pull/19.diff
% patch < 19.diff 
Hmm...  Looks like a unified diff to me...
The text leading up to this was:
|diff --git a/herbe.c b/herbe.c
|index 51d3990..8bfdbc1 100644
|--- a/herbe.c
|+++ b/herbe.c
Patching file herbe.c using Plan A...
Hunk #1 succeeded at 7.
Hunk #2 succeeded at 80.
Hunk #3 succeeded at 162.
Hunk #4 succeeded at 188.
Hunk #5 succeeded at 218.
Hunk #6 succeeded at 230.


You can additionally patch herbe so it will be configurable by using ~/.Xresources or ~/.Xdefaults files. IMHO its so small and compiles in second that its not needed but if you would like to also apply it then its available here – Xresources – in the patches section.

I have chosen to configure it using the config.def.h file. Here are my values.

% cat config.def.h
static const char *background_color    = "#222222";
static const char *border_color        = "#666666";
static const char *font_color          = "#eeeeee";
static const char *font_pattern        = "Ubuntu Mono:size=10";
static const unsigned line_spacing     = 5;
static const unsigned int padding      = 15;

static const unsigned int width       = 550;
static const unsigned int border_size = 4;
static const unsigned int pos_x       = 15;
static const unsigned int pos_y       = 45;

enum corners corner = TOP_RIGHT;

static const unsigned int duration = 5; /* in seconds */

#define DISMISS_BUTTON Button1
#define ACTION_BUTTON Button3


The build process could not be simpler. Just type make and you are done.

% make 
cp config.def.h config.h
cc herbe.c -Wall -Wextra -pedantic -I/usr/local/include -L/usr/local/lib -lX11 -lXft -I/usr/local/include/freetype2 -pthread -o herbe

% file -s herbe | tr ',' '\n'
herbe: ELF 64-bit LSB executable
 version 1 (FreeBSD)
 dynamically linked
 interpreter /libexec/ld-elf.so.1
 for FreeBSD 13.0 (1300139)
 with debug_info
 not stripped

% ./herbe 
Usage: ./herbe body


I did not yet implemented herbe anywhere on my scripts so I will use this simple ‘mockup’ to show you what to expect.

% \
  herbe "Wifi connection 'wireless' is not connected." \
& herbe "Removable storage /dev/da0 automounted at /media/da0 with exFAT filesystem." \

Here is how it looks in real life X11 session.

As you can see it works very well and its ultra fast. Its also very light on system resources.

% ps aux | grep -e RSS -e herbe -e sshd
vermaden 41909   0.0  0.1    19568    9128  3  S+   20:22       0:00.02 herbe Message.
root        38   0.0  0.1    20948    8340  -  Is   Thu23       0:00.00 /usr/sbin/sshd

As you can see its RAM usage is very little – as little as sshd daemon.


FreeBSD Desktop – Part 22 – Configuration – Aero Snap Extended

I like to post new articles and solutions when I think they are ready. Production tested and stable. Well thought and tested … or at least trying to make things as good as possible in the available time window. Perfectionism definitely does not help making often articles on the blog.

Today’s solution is not perfect but I will ‘ship it’ anyway because good and done is better then perfect. I wanted to rework it so many times that I stopped counting … and I really would like to continue the series – thus I have made a conscious decision to finally release it and hope that maybe someone else will have better ideas to make it better. I really wanted to provide pixel perfect solution with as much screen space used as possible but to deliver it as it is I tested it only on the resolution I use the most – the FullHD one with 1920×1080 pixels.

You may want to check other articles in the FreeBSD Desktop series on the FreeBSD Desktop – Global Page where you will find links to all episodes of the series along with table of contents for each episode’s contents.

Aero Snap

Today I would like to share with You what I call Aero Snap Extended. The original Aero Snap was introduced in Windows 7 and this is how it is described in the Wikipedia page – “Dragging a window to the right or left side of the desktop causes the window to fill the respective half of the screen. Snapping a window to the top of the screen maximizes it. Windows can be resized by stretching them to touch the top or bottom of the screen, which fully increases their vertical screen estate, while retaining their width, these windows can then slide horizontally if moved by the title bar, or pulled off, which returns the window to its original height. In spite of the “Aero” moniker, this feature is available if one uses the Classic theme. This feature is also available on Windows 10.”

This is like the original Aero Snap looks like.


The idea behind original Aero Snap was pretty simple. Its basically these four shortcuts.

[WIN] + [LEFT] – will place window on the left half of the screen.
[WIN] + [RIGHT] – will place window on the right half of the screen.
[WIN] + [UP] – will maximize the window.
[WIN] + [DOWN] – will minimize the window.

Aero Snap Extended

Mine Aero Snap Extended is … well more extended πŸ™‚

As usual its just a small POSIX /bin/sh compatible shell script. There are only two dependencies for it – the /usr/local/bin/xdpyinfo from xdpyinfo package and /usr/local/bin/wmctrl from wmctrl package. At the beginning of the script you will find several ‘settings’ that you may find needed to be tuned to your needs. Most important ones are MARGIN_TOP/MARGIN_LEFT/MARGIN_RIGHT options. Unfortunately MARGIN_BOTTOM is not implemented. Sorry.


Here are the shortcuts that I use for mine version but You may of course use other key then [WIN] for it.

(L) [WIN] + [LEFT] – will place window on the left half of the screen.
(R) [WIN] + [RIGHT] – will place window on the right half of the screen.
(U) [WIN] + [UP] – will place window on the upper half of the screen.
(D) [WIN] + [DOWN] – will place window on the lower half of the screen.

Here is ASCII diagram for its graphical visualization.

+------+------+  +-------------+
|      |      |  |     (U)     |
|      |      |  |             |
| (L)  |  (R) |  +-------------+
|      |      |  |             |
|      |      |  |     (D)     |
+------+------+  +-------------+

… and also a live screenshots.



(SL) [WIN] + [SHIFT] + [LEFT] – will place window on the left half of the screen taking 2/3 space of the screen.
(SR) [WIN] + [SHIFT] + [RIGHT] – will place window on the right half of the screen taking 1/3 space of the screen.
(SU) [WIN] + [SHIFT] + [UP] – will place window on the upper half of the screen taking 2/3 space of the screen.
(SD) [WIN] + [SHIFT] + [DOWN] – will place window on the lower half of the screen taking 1/3 space of the screen.

Here is ASCII diagram for its graphical visualization.

+--------+----+  +-------------+
|        |    |  |    (SU)     |
|        |    |  |             |
|  (SL)  |(SR)|  |             |
|        |    |  +-------------+
|        |    |  |    (SD)     |
+--------+----+  +-------------+

… and also a live screenshots.



The above shortcuts are quite simple and easy to remember.

Now here comes when this is more interesting.

Most keyboards – at least those with the best possible keyboard layout in the world – the ANSI standard keyboard (includes 7-row ThinkPad keyboards – have these three keys one next to another – [CTRL] [WIN] [ALT] – some call the [WIN] key as [SUPER] instead. I use [WIN] as it takes shorter to write and it shows where this key came from.

The 87 keys ANSI stand alone keyboard.


The ThinkPad T420s keyboard.


Now back to topic.

How to use these three keys to send windows to various places of the screen to make it easy to memorize and also not to break existing shortcuts … I think I found a way.

{ [CTRL] [WIN] } [ALT] – these two will send windows to the left side of the screen.

[CTRL] { [WIN] [ALT] } – these two will send windows to the right side of the screen.

Now to the point …

(Q1) [CTRL] + [WIN] + [UP] – will take window to the left and upper part of the screen – taking 1/4 of its space.
(Q2) [CTRL] + [WIN] + [DOWN] – will take window to the left and lower part of the screen – taking 1/4 of its space.
(Q3) [WIN] + [ALT] + [UP] – will take window to the right and upper part of the screen – taking 1/4 of its space.
(Q4) [WIN] + [ALT] + [DOWN] – will take window to the right and lower part of the screen – taking 1/4 of its space.

Now for some the exact 1/4 screen for each of these windows may be not suitable.

Thus I also added a modified versions with [SHIFT] key.

(S1) [SHIFT] + [CTRL] + [WIN] + [UP] – will take window to the left and upper part of the screen – taking 2/3 of horizontal and 2/3 vertical space of the screen.
(S2) [SHIFT] + [CTRL] + [WIN] + [DOWN] – will take window to the left and lower part of the screen – taking 2/3 of horizontal and 1/3 vertical space of the screen.
(S3) [SHIFT] + [WIN] + [ALT] + [UP] – will take window to the right and upper part of the screen – taking 1/3 of horizontal and 2/3 vertical space of the screen.
(S4) [SHIFT] + [WIN] + [ALT] + [DOWN] – will take window to the right and lower part of the screen – taking 1/3 of horizontal and 1/3 vertical space of the screen.

Here is ASCII diagram for its graphical visualization.

+------+------+  +--------+----+
| (Q1) | (Q3) |  |  (S1)  |(S3)|
|      |      |  |        |    |
+------+------+  |        |    |
|      |      |  +--------+----+
| (Q2) | (Q4) |  |  (S2)  |(S4)|
+------+------+  +--------+----+

… and also a live screenshots.



Now you have about 95% variations of needed windows places in the keyboard shortcuts.

There are also several complementary addons like making the window centered on the screen but without making it cover the whole screen. As I already use other originated from Windows [ALT] + [ESC] shortcut to send the current windows to the ‘back’ I also added [WIN] + [ESC] for this feature.

(C) [WIN] + [ESC] – place current window centered on screen covering about 2/3 of its space.

As it was relatively easy and fast I also added fullscreen option.

(F) [CTRL] + [ALT] + [F] – make current window go fullscreen

+-------------+  +-------------+
|             |  | +---------+ |
|             |  | |         | |
|     (F)     |  | |   (C)   | |
|             |  | |         | |
|             |  | +---------+ |
+-------------+  +-------------+

… and also a live screenshot.



The Aero Snap Extended has the following options.

% aero-snap.sh

  aero-snap.sh OPTION


  L - place window on left  half of screen
  R - place window on right half of screen
  T - place window on upper half of screen
  B - place window on lower half of screen

  SHIFT-L - place window on left  half of screen taking 2/3 space
  SHIFT-R - place window on right half of screen taking 1/3 space
  SHIFT-T - place window on upper half of screen taking 2/3 space
  SHIFT-B - place window on lower half of screen taking 1/3 space

  TL - place window to left/upper  part of screen
  TR - place window to left/lower  part of screen
  BL - place window to right/upper part of screen
  BR - place window to right/lower part of screen

  SHIFT-TL - use left/upper  part with 2/3 of H. and 2/3 V. space
  SHIFT-TR - use left/lower  part with 2/3 of H. and 1/3 V. space
  SHIFT-BL - use right/upper part with 1/3 of H. and 2/3 V. space
  SHIFT-BR - use right/lower part with 1/3 of H. and 1/3 V. space

  C - center window covering about 2/3 of screen
  F - make current window go fullscreen
  Q - remove fullscreen property from window

The Aero Snap Extended can be downloaded from here – aero-snap.sh – the usual place for my scripts.

Openbox Integration

Because of WordPress limitation I will not post Openbox configuration here but You will also find a link to that content in the text form below.


Here is this configuration in text form – rc.xml.openbox.aero.config – from the same location.

More then a year after I implemented this way of tiling on Openbox I found out that its also possible to use that ‘natively’ on Openbox using ‘direct’ Openbox configuration rules.


It definitely should be faster and easier to implement – not to mention that external dependencies will not be available – but a script allows more tuning and flexibility.

Other Window Managers

If you are not into Openbox then you may create these shortcuts using xbindkeys for example.

Future Work

Mine Aero Snap Extended could use some polish and especially testing in the other resolutions the the well tested 1920×1080.



FreeBSD GNOME 3 Fast Track

This article is dedicated to Abraham Joseph who recently asked me if I could make an article on how to configure GNOME 3 on FreeBSD 12.2. At the moment 12.2-RC3 version is available so that is what I used but it will be the same on FreeBSD 12.2-RELEASE (or 12-STABLE). All commands here are executed as root user.

Here is the Table of Contents for this article.

  • Install
  • Connection to Internet
    • LAN with DHCP
    • LAN with Static IP Address
    • WIFI
    • DNS
  • Packages
  • Settings
  • GNOME 3
  • Fix the Icons
  • Rest of the Setup
  • UPDATE 1 – GDM Icons Fixed


First you will have to install FreeBSD. You may use FreeBSD Handbook or one of my guides – Install FreeBSD 12 – available here.

Connection to Internet

Then after booting to new system you need to get connectivity to the Internet. If its LAN connection then its pretty fast. Its for em0 interface.


# ifconfig em0 up
# dhclient em0

… assuming that you are on the LAN network with DHCP enabled.

To make it permanent put below line to the /etc/rc.conf file.


LAN with Static IP Address

If not then execute these for static IPv4 connection on your em0 interface.

First add these two lines to the /etc/rc.conf file.

ifconfig_em0="inet up"

This is how you /etc/rc.conf file should look like now assuming that you want IP address and gateway.

# grep -A 1 ifconfig /etc/rc.conf
ifconfig_em0="inet up"

Then restart the netif and routing services.

# /etc/rc.d/netif restart
# /etc/rc.d/routing restart


If you want to use WiFi to connect to the Internet then its slightly more typing. On my system I have iwn0 wireless card so that is what I will use here. The SSID is the name of your WiFi network and PSK is password for that network.

# sysctl -n net.wlan.devices
# ifconfig wlan0 create wlandev iwn0
# wpa_passphrase SSID PSK >> /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
# wpa_supplicant -i wlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
// wait for CONNECTED state and hit [CTRL]-[Z]
# bg
# dhclient wlan0

To make it permanent across reboots add these to /etc/rc.conf file. I assume that information about your network is already in the /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf file generated by the wpa_passphrase(8) command above.

ifconfig_wlan0="WPA SYNCDHCP"


Last but not least you also need DNS. Put your favorite here or just paste the one below.

# echo nameserver > /etc/resolv.conf


We will now switch to the latest branch or pkg(8) repository and install needed gnome3 and xorg packages.

# sed -i '' s/quarterly/latest/g /etc/pkg/FreeBSD.conf

# grep /latest /etc/pkg/FreeBSD.conf
  url: "pkg+http://pkg.FreeBSD.org/${ABI}/latest",

# pkg install -y gnome3 xorg

# pkg stats | head -3
Local package database:
        Installed packages: 523
        Disk space occupied: 3 GiB


Now you need to add ‘yourself’ to wheel and video groups.

# pw groupmod video -m yourself

# pw groupmod wheel -m yourself

GNOME 3 can not live without the /proc filesystem.

# cat << EOF >> /etc/fstab
proc  /proc  procfs  rw  0  0

Enable needed services.

# sysrc dbus_enable=YES

# sysrc hald_enable=YES

# sysrc gdm_enable=YES

# sysrc gnome_enable=YES

Enable EVDEV support.

# cat << EOF >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Make the boot process faster and more clean.

# cat << EOF >> /boot/loader.conf

Done. Now you can reboot into your new GNOME 3 system on FreeBSD.

# reboot


Your GNOME 3 desktop is now ready and you can login. For the purpose of this article I used asd user.






The default font sizes on GNOME 3 are way too big for me so I tweaked them to 0.8 scale as shown on last screenshot. I also set the font in Terminal app to Monospaced.

Fix the Icons

As you probably saw on the screenshots above the buttons on the windows are broken. There is very simple fix for that. Like shown below on the screenshots first open the Tweak Tool. Then go to Appearance page. The 3rd item from top on the right panel (under the Themes sign) is Icons – please set it to Gnome.





Viola! Now all icons look properly now.

Rest of the Setup

Now there are some things that will need be addressed.

Like with the drawing below, you have just drawn the circles πŸ™‚


Just kidding πŸ™‚

Add your favorite applications with pkg(8) like LibreOffice or Firefox for example.

If you run GNOME 3 on a laptop, then I would suggest adding net-mgmt/networkmgr package to get Networkmgr networking manager from GhostBSD.

I would also suggest using some of the FreeBSD Desktop series articles for the completeness of your GNOME 3 setup. If you need to tweak X11 then check X11 Window System part. I would also suggest visiting Configuration – Fonts & Frameworks for fonts fine tuning. If you want to have automatic mounting of removable media (and you probably do) then check Configuration – Automount Media part. If its laptop then tuning the power management will give you extra battery time. Check the details at The Power to Serve – FreeBSD Power Management part. As you are using GNOME 3 you may want to check Dash to Dock plugin or use Plank described in the Configuration – Plank – Skippy-XD part. If you did not liked the net-mgmt/networkmgr package (Networkmgr from GhostBSD) you may want to try my network.sh solution – FreeBSD Network Management with network.sh – described here.

Not sure what else I can add here as I do not use GNOME 3 daily.

UPDATE 1 – GDM Icons Fixed

Thanks to Romain Tartiere from bsd.network the icons in GDM are now also fixed. The package graphics/ligvrsvg2-rust is now preferred instead of the graphics/librsvg2 package which was used previously.

Here is how now the GDM login page looks like.



FreeBSD Desktop – Part 21 – Configuration – Compton

In this article of the FreeBSD Desktop series I will talk Compton setup – the one that does not breaks, displays everything properly and does not consume 100% of your CPU time, as unfortunately Compton is a real bitch when it comes to proper setup.

The Compton is X11 compositor.

It allows the following features on X11 desktop:

  • transparent windows/menus/titlebars/borders
  • shadows and colored shadows
  • fading effects
  • background bluring

You may want to check other articles in the FreeBSD Desktop series on the FreeBSD Desktop – Global Page where you will find links to all episodes of the series along with table of contents for each episode’s contents.

Here is how example Compton looks in action.


To install Compton on FreeBSD just use the default packages as shown below.

# pkg install compton

X11 Configuration

This is the graphics card configuration I have for X11:

% cat /usr/local/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/card.conf
Section "Device"
  Identifier "Card0"
  Driver "modesetting"
  Option "DPMS"
  Option "AccelMethod" "glamor"

… and the meritum of this article – the Compton config file:

% cat ~/.config/compton.conf
backend = "glx";
shadow = true;
no-dock-shadow = true;
clear-shadow = true;
shadow-radius = 12;
shadow-offset-x = -15;
shadow-offset-y = -15;
shadow-opacity = 0.7;
shadow-exclude = [
    "! name~=''",
    "name = 'Notification'",
    "name = 'Plank'",
    "name = 'Docky'",
    "name = 'Kupfer'",
    "name = 'xfce4-notifyd'",
    "name *= 'VLC'",
    "name *= 'compton'",
    "name *= 'Chromium'",
    "name *= 'Chrome'",
    "name *= 'Firefox'",
    "class_g = 'Conky'",
    "class_g = 'dzen'",
    "class_g = 'dzen2'",
    "class_g = 'Kupfer'",
    "class_g = 'Synapse'",
    "class_g ?= 'Notify-osd'",
    "class_g ?= 'Cairo-dock'",
    "class_g ?= 'Xfce4-notifyd'",
    "class_g ?= 'Xfce4-power-manager'"
shadow-ignore-shaped = false;
menu-opacity = 1;
inactive-opacity = 0.9;
active-opacity = 1;
frame-opacity = 0.9;
inactive-opacity-override = false;
alpha-step = 0.06;
blur-background-fixed = false;
blur-background-exclude = [
    "window_type = 'dock'",
    "window_type = 'desktop'"
fading = true;
fade-delta = 4;
fade-in-step = 0.03;
fade-out-step = 0.03;
fade-exclude = [ ];
mark-wmwin-focused = true;
mark-ovredir-focused = true;
use-ewmh-active-win = true;
detect-rounded-corners = true;
detect-client-opacity = true;
refresh-rate = 0;
vsync = "opengl-swc";
dbe = false;
paint-on-overlay = true;
sw-opti = false;
unredir-if-possible = true;
focus-exclude = [ ];
detect-transient = true;
detect-client-leader = true;
    tooltip =
        fade = true;
        shadow = false;
        opacity = 0.85;
        focus = true;

While the above config works very well I will also add same Compton configuration file but with comments.

% cat ~/.config/compton.conf
# Backend

# Backend to use: "xrender" or "glx".
# GLX backend is typically much faster but depends on a sane driver.
backend = "glx";

# GLX Backend

# GLX backend: Copy unmodified regions from front buffer instead of redrawing them all.
# Tests with nvidia-drivers show 10% decrease in performance when whole screen
# is modified but 20% increase when only 1/4 is modified.
# Tests on nouveau show terrible slowdown.
# Useful with --glx-swap-method as well.
# glx-copy-from-front = false;

# GLX backend: Use MESA_copy_sub_buffer to do partial screen update.
# Tests on nouveau shows 200% performance boost when only 1/4 of screen is updated.
# May break VSync and is not available on some drivers.
# Overrides --glx-copy-from-front.
# glx-use-copysubbuffermesa = true;

# GLX backend: Avoid rebinding pixmap on window damage.
# Probably could improve performance on rapid window content changes
# but is known to break things on some drivers (LLVMpipe).
# Recommended if it works.
# glx-no-rebind-pixmap = true;

# GLX backend: GLX buffer swap method we assume.
# Could be:
# - undefined (0)
# - copy (1)
# - exchange (2)
# - buffer-age (-1)
# The undefined is slowest and safest (default value).
# Copy is fastest but may fail on some drivers.
# buffer-age means auto-detect using GLX_EXT_buffer_age supported by some drivers.
# Useless with --glx-use-copysubbuffermesa.
# Partially breaks --resize-damage.
# Defaults to undefined.
# glx-swap-method = "undefined";

# Shadows

# Enabled client-side shadows on windows.
shadow = true;

# Do not draw shadows on DND windows.
# no-dnd-shadow = true;

# Avoid drawing shadows on dock/panel windows.
no-dock-shadow = true;

# Zero part of shadow's mask behind window. Fix some weirdness with ARGB windows.
clear-shadow = true;

# The blur radius for shadows. (default 12)
shadow-radius = 12;

# The left offset for shadows. (default -15)
shadow-offset-x = -15;

# The top offset for shadows. (default -15)
shadow-offset-y = -15;

# The translucency for shadows. (default .75)
shadow-opacity = 0.7;

# Set if you want different colour shadows
# shadow-red = 0.0;
# shadow-green = 0.0;
# shadow-blue = 0.0;

# The shadow exclude options are helpful if you have shadows enabled.
# Due to way compton draws its shadows certain applications will have
# visual glitches (most applications are fine - only apps that do weird
# things with xshapes or argb are affected).
# The "! name~=''" part excludes shadows on any "Unknown" windows.
# This prevents visual glitch with XFWM alt-tab switcher.
shadow-exclude = [
    "! name~=''",
    "name = 'Notification'",
    "name = 'Plank'",
    "name = 'Docky'",
    "name = 'Kupfer'",
    "name = 'xfce4-notifyd'",
    "name *= 'VLC'",
    "name *= 'compton'",
    "name *= 'Chromium'",
    "name *= 'Chrome'",
    "name *= 'Firefox'",
    "class_g = 'Conky'",
    "class_g = 'dzen'",
    "class_g = 'dzen2'",
    "class_g = 'Kupfer'",
    "class_g = 'Synapse'",
    "class_g ?= 'Notify-osd'",
    "class_g ?= 'Cairo-dock'",
    "class_g ?= 'Xfce4-notifyd'",
    "class_g ?= 'Xfce4-power-manager'"

# Avoid drawing shadow on all shaped windows (see also: --detect-rounded-corners)
shadow-ignore-shaped = false;

# Opacity

# Opacity for menu items.
menu-opacity = 1;

# Opacity for inactive windows.
inactive-opacity = 0.9;

# Opacity for active windows.
active-opacity = 1;

# Opacity for active frame of windows.
frame-opacity = 0.9;

# Opacity for inactive frame of windows.
inactive-opacity-override = false;

# Alpha step.
alpha-step = 0.06;

# Dim inactive windows. (0.0 - 1.0)
# inactive-dim = 0.2;

# Do not let dimness adjust based on window opacity.
# inactive-dim-fixed = true;

# Blur background of transparent windows. Bad performance with X Render backend.
# GLX backend is preferred.
# blur-background = true;

# Blur background of opaque windows with transparent frames as well.
# blur-background-frame = true;

# Do not let blur radius adjust based on window opacity.
blur-background-fixed = false;

# Blue exclude list.
blur-background-exclude = [
    "window_type = 'dock'",
    "window_type = 'desktop'"

# Fading

# Fade windows during opacity changes.
fading = true;

# The time between steps in fade in milliseconds (default 10).
fade-delta = 4;

# Opacity change between steps while fading in (default 0.028).
fade-in-step = 0.03;

# Opacity change between steps while fading out (default 0.03).
fade-out-step = 0.03;

# Fade windows in/out when opening/closing
# no-fading-openclose = true;

# Specify a list of conditions of windows that should not be faded.
fade-exclude = [ ];

# Other

# Try to detect WM windows and mark them as active.
mark-wmwin-focused = true;

# Mark all non-WM but override-redirect windows active (e.g. menus).
mark-ovredir-focused = true;

# Use EWMH _NET_WM_ACTIVE_WINDOW to determine which window is focused instead of
# using FocusIn/Out events. Usually more reliable but depends on EWMH-compliant WM.
use-ewmh-active-win = true;

# Detect rounded corners and treat them as rectangular when --shadow-ignore-shaped is on.
detect-rounded-corners = true;

# Detect _NET_WM_OPACITY on client windows useful for window managers not passing
# _NET_WM_OPACITY of client windows to frame windows. This prevents opacity ignore
# for some apps. Without this enabled xfce4-notifyd is 100% opacity no matter what.
detect-client-opacity = true;

# Specify refresh rate. With 0 compton will detect this with X RandR extension.
refresh-rate = 0;

# Set VSync method. VSync methods currently available:
# - none: No VSync
# - drm: VSync with DRM_IOCTL_WAIT_VBLANK. May only work on some drivers.
# - opengl: VSync with SGI_video_sync OpenGL extension. Only on some drivers.
# - opengl-oml: VSync with OML_sync_control OpenGL extension. Only on some drivers.
# - opengl-swc: VSync with SGI_swap_control OpenGL extension. Only on some drivers.
#               Works with GLX backend. Known to be most effective on many drivers.
#               Does not control paint timing - only buffer swap is affected.
#               Does not have effect of --sw-opti unlike other methods. Experimental.
# - opengl-mswc: Try to VSync with MESA_swap_control OpenGL extension.
#                Basically same as opengl-swc above except extension we use.
vsync = "opengl-swc";

# Enable DBE painting mode - use with VSync to (hopefully) eliminate tearing.
dbe = false;

# Painting on X Composite overlay window. Recommended.
paint-on-overlay = true;

# Limit repaint at most once every 1 / refresh_rate second to boost performance.
# This should not be used with --vsync drm/opengl/opengl-oml as they essentially does
# --sw-opti* job unless you wish to have lower refresh rate than actual value.
sw-opti = false;

# Unredirect all windows if full-screen window is detected to maximize performance
# for full-screen windows - like games. Known to cause flickering when
# redirecting/unredirecting windows. Paint-on-overlay may flicker less.
unredir-if-possible = true;

# Specify list of conditions of windows that should always be considered focused.
focus-exclude = [ ];

# Use WM_TRANSIENT_FOR to group windows in same group focused at same time.
detect-transient = true;

# Use WM_CLIENT_LEADER to group windows in same group focused at same time.
# WM_TRANSIENT_FOR has higher priority if --detect-transient is enabled too.
detect-client-leader = true;

# Window Type Settings

    tooltip =
        # fade: Fade particular type of windows.
        fade = true;
        # shadow: Give those windows shadow
        shadow = false;
        # opacity: Default opacity for type of windows.
        opacity = 0.85;
        # focus: Whether to always consider windows of this type focused.
        focus = true;

Not sure what else could I add here so this means the end of this article πŸ™‚