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IRIX: system: IRIX: changing look and feel

(last edit: 2003-01-05)

Changing look and feel

This tutorial describes a few thing you can do to change the look and feel of a default Irix desktop. I'll describe the following thing:
  • customizing the toolchest
  • switching to 24bit display
  • changing minimize windows behaviour
  • customizing background images
  • using multiple desks
Customizing the toolchest The toolchest is a daemon named 'toolchest' which comes with 4Dwm (the default window manager of an Irix system). It uses the default config file which lives in: /usr/lib/X11/system.chestr To change things you should copy the above file to $HOME/.chestrc or $HOME/.auxchestrc where the latter is included in the system wide chestrc and can thus only provide extra config info. I just always copy the system wide one to $HOME/.chestrc. After the copy you must log out and in. You will get an message telling you that this is heavy stuff and bla bla bla, just continue. Adding menu options I guess you might want to add menu's like "Applications" for example. Find the global menu 'ToolChest' in your .chestrc: Menu ToolChest { Desktop f.menu Desktop no-lable f.seperator "Selected" f.menu Selected ... Now copy the 'Selected' line and change both the 'Selected' entities to what ever you want. Now you have to define the submenu, lets use 'apps' as an example: Menu ToolChest { Desktop f.menu Desktop no-lable f.seperator "Selected" f.menu Selected no-lable f.seperator "Apps" f.menu Selected ... } Menu Apps { term f.checkexec.sh.le "/usr/sbin/winterm -fg white -bg black" netscape f.checkexec.sh.le "/usr/bin/X11/netscape" } Now restart the toolchest by killing the daemon and starting it again (kill -HUP doesn't work with this daemon on my O2) and your new toolchest should be active. Setting Xserver to 24 bit I haven't found any graphical option for this so this is done hardcore via config files. The file /var/X11/xdm/Xservers contains settings for the Xserver. Change the contense so it looks like this: :0 secure /usr/bin/X11/X -bs -nobitscale -c -pseudomap 4sight -solidroot sgilightblue -cursorFG red -cursorBG white -class TrueColor -depth 24 You have to reboot your manchine to make this change active. Changing minimize windows behaviour A windows gets minimized when you hit the small square in the right top of a window. By default a quite large icon appears on your desktop containing a picture and the name of the window you've just minimized. You restore the window to it's original size by double clicking the icon. You can change a few thing of this procedure. Setting minimize icon size: In the file /usr/lib/X11/app-defaults/4Dwm is a line with the option *iconImageMaximum 85x67 Change this value to whatever you want. Note thate the images won't scale, you actually have to resize them to the same size you've set in the 4DWm config file. Disabeling the images on minimize icons: It's also possible to disable the label or the image on these icons. This option is in the same file as the above one: *iconDecoration label image If you remove the 'image' then the label is the only thing displayed and if you remove the label then the image is the only thing. Don't forget to restart your window manager to activate these new settings. Customizing the iconbox: The iconbox is a window in which you can collect all the windows which get minimized. You can activate this by checking the option 'Display windows overvie' via the toolchest : Desktop | Customize | Windows By default the iconbox has two scrollbars: horizontal and vertical. With the following option you can control these: *iconBoxSBDisplayPolicy (all | horizontal | vertical) Just specify one of the three possible options, so something like this: *iconBoxSBDisplayPolicy horizontal Setting a custom background The global background config file lives in /usr/lib/X11/system.backgrounds Copy this file to or create an empty $HOME/.backgrounds. To use an xpm image as background add a section like this: background "bg" command "-xpm /usr/people/me/backgrounds/bg.xpm" default "-xpm /usr/people/me/backgrounds/bg.xpm" readok "/usr/people/me/backgrounds/bg.xpm Restart the window manager and you can use the new background(s) Using multiple desks As any good unix system should IRIX's 4Dwm has support for multiple desks. You can activate this from the toolchest by selecting Desktop | Extra Desks You can customize this window via the menu bar or by right clicking in the window. So now you can switch desks, but not using your keyboard although tis IS possible. --------- Now it's time to configure 4Dwm to use our custom hot keys. First we need to create a ~/.4Dwmrc file by copying /usr/lib/X11/system.4Dwmrc to your home directory as ~/.4Dwmrc: cp /usr/lib/X11/system.4Dwmrc ~/.4Dwmrc Open ~/.4Dwmrc with a text editor and find the following section: ! !! SGI 4Dwm Key Binding Description !! Keys 4DwmKeyBindings { # Same as the standard OSF Key Bindings ShiftEscape window|icon f.post_wmenu Altspace window|icon f.post_wmenu AltTab root|icon|window f.next_key Alt ShiftTab root|icon|window f.prev_key AltEscape root|icon|window f.circle_down Alt ShiftEscape root|icon|window f.circle_up Alt Shift Ctrlexclam root|icon|window f.set_behavior AltF6 window f.next_key transient Alt ShiftF6 window f.prev_key transient ShiftF10 icon f.post_wmenu ! Alt ShiftDelete root|icon|window f.restart # SGI added key bindings ShiftEscape root f.menu 4DwmRootMenu Altspace root f.menu 4DwmRootMenu } Add the following lines after the # SGI added key bindings section, but before the closing brace: #change desktops Alt1 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "System" Alt2 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Editing" Alt3 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Web" Alt4 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Global" #Alt5 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Desk 5" #Alt6 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Desk 6" #Alt7 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Desk 7" #Alt8 root|icon|window f.switch_desk "Desk 8" Notice that desks 5-8 are commented out; if you need more desktops in the future uncomment these and change the description in the quotes to match your desktop title. After restarting the X-server (logging out then back in will work) you should now be able to cycle through your desktops using through . I find that setting a custom background for each desktop makes it easier to tell them apart.

Changing look and feel part 2

Custom Backgrounds On IRIX First you must enable 24-bit support on your X server (Run xdpyinfo first to make sure your server supports this visual). This is important even when dealing with 256 color backgrounds as the default IRIX palette is not dynamic. Edit /var/X11/xdm/Xservers to reflect the following (make certain to back up your existing file first in case you need to revert): :0 secure /usr/bin/X11/X -bs -nobitscale -c -pseudomap 4sight -solidroot sgilightblue -cursorFG red -cursorBG white -class TrueColor -depth 24 The key section is the -class TrueColor -depth 24 entry; simply adding this bit to your existing Xservers configuration is sufficient. You'll need to restart your X server to complete the change. Next obtain some backgrounds; depending on your display configuration most likely 1280x1024 or 1024x768 X11 PixMap (XPM) format. You can convert JPEG images to XPM using ImageView, xv, NetPBM or similar, and resizing/cropping to the correct size and aspect can be accomplished with an image editor (such as GIMP or Photoshop). Once you have a suitable XPM file you'll need to configure 4Dwm to use it as a background. First, create and edit a .backgrounds file by copying the system.backgrounds file from /usr/lib/X11 to your home directory as .backgrounds: cp /usr/lib/X11/system.backgrounds ~/.backgrounds Using a text editor, add additional entries for your new backgrounds file like this: background "cool" command "-xpm /usr/people/radrob/backgrounds/cool.xpm" default "-xpm /usr/people/radrob/backgrounds/cool.xpm" readok "/usr/people/radrob/backgrounds/cool.xpm" Change the three path entries /usr/people/radrob/backgrounds/cool.xpm to reflect the full name and path of the background file you are using. Also be sure to change the background name from "cool" to whatever you'd like to show up in your Background control panel. You can add several entries like the above to easily switch between multiple backgrounds; I have at least twenty myself. Once all this has been accomplished you can select your new background(s) from Toolchest -> Desktop -> Customize -> Background. In addition to the increased performance, you'll even get a snippet of the new background in your Desks Overview which is another benefit of using XPM files.

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