My Cinnamon desktop customizations

August 8, 2013

As I mentioned in the previous entry on my laptop environment, I'm now using a lightly customized Cinnamon desktop on Fedora 19. The major customizations have been to get back something equivalent to sshmenu and the Gnome 2 mini-commander applet. The results have been quite good; I feel as productive with my Cinnamon setup as I did with Gnome 2 on Fedora 14 (and many more things work on Fedora 19).

My mini-command replacement is that Cinnamon lets you add custom keyboard shortcuts so I have F5 set to run a version of my custom dmenu setup. This gives me convenient access to ssh to other hosts (what I really care about) as well as a bunch of other things. F5 is the same key as I use for this on my desktop, although it is somewhat less convenient on the laptop keyboard (time may change that).

To get an equivalent of sshmenu I use this launcher applet in the Cinnamon panel. The launcher doesn't directly do SSH and it doesn't have submenus (as far as I know), but you can create menu entries and specify the command that they run and I already have a script to run SSH to a host inside an xterm. It's not as nice as sshmenu but it'll do.

(There is a Cinnamon SSH applet but it didn't install when I tried it and it's not usefully customizable from what I understand. Sshmenu itself is unsuitable for a number of reasons, including that it appears to have been abandoned and doesn't actually work with Ruby 2.0.)

I've done some other less important Cinnamon customizations:

  • F4 starts a (local) xterm, partly because I haven't changed the Cinnamon panel's 'terminal' launcher away from running gnome-terminal.

  • I'm using this Shutdown menu applet because I find it more convenient than trying to find everything I want in the main Cinnamon menu (and I don't like to be prompted).

  • I have a shell script I run on session startup to do things like set X resources for xterm.

(As far as I can tell, Cinnamon is essentially a variant of Gnome 3 and so inherits a lot of the same pieces and settings as the latter. For example, Cinnamon applets are JavaScript snippets that run inside the Cinnamon shell-equivalent, not standalone programs.)

I prefer xterm to gnome-terminal in general, but the one nice feature g-t has (in a constrained laptop environment) is that it has a direct way to open URLs in text. My current experiment with doing this with xterm is to have F6 run a command that pulls out the current selection and starts a browser on it if it looks URL-like (and otherwise just start a browser on nothing in particular). This still leaves me actually selecting the URL, which is more work on a laptop trackpad than it is on my desktop.

(I would like to find a better replacement for xterm someday but it's hard. Everyone either adds features I don't care about instead of the ones that I really would like or gets important things wrong. Often it's both. Note that I'm very picky about how a terminal program should behave and there are very few new features I actually want.)

Hopefully Cinnamon will stay stable for a few years so that I don't have to revisit this process for a while. Although I suppose I'm now basically okay as long as whatever desktop I settle in allows me to run a command in response to a function key, since dmenu is really what makes the environment work.

Sidebar: disabling cursor blinking in gnome-terminal

Since the last time I wrote about it Gnome has switched to a fourth way of doing this, covered very thoroughly in this highly useful reference:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface cursor-blink false

This probably has some global effect but I don't care any more.

(It also looks like gnome-terminal may still respect old settings stuffed in various corners, although who knows how and how you set which ones of them now on a new machine.)

While I'm writing this stuff down, the gsettings schema for what the standard terminal program is is org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal. Your guess is as good as mine as to what programs respect this.

Written on 08 August 2013.
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Last modified: Thu Aug 8 00:34:42 2013
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