Oh, so close

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

With the remains of my Ubuntu X-based system I decided to take a day and smooth out something that looks like Windows 2000 or maybe the Windows XP Classic desktop theme. Why? I don’t know. I don’t really like the look, but things like this are sometimes useful to someone.

I can get close, but there are a couple of things that seem just slightly off kilter.

That, of course, is IceWM on Ubuntu 8.04, and not Windows. There are some obvious discrepancies — for one thing, I can’t find a way to un-bezel the buttons on the toolbar only. I want the taskbar to have a raised effect, but not the “quicklaunch bar.” The XP machine I use (rarely) at work has a flat quicklaunch bar, not a raised one. Perhaps that can be themed out.

There’s also a strange antialiasing happening with IceWM’s title bars and program menus. I asked X to turn off antialiasing but keep hinting, by putting this in my .Xdefaults file.

Xft.dpi: 96
Xft.antialias: false
Xft.hinting: true
Xft.hintstyle: hintfull
Xft.rgba: rgb

That, combined with the Tahoma font (which I acquired from … somewhere) notched down to 8-point, makes the GTK text and menu bars look picture-perfect. And the default Raleigh GTK2 theme is, believe it or not, about right for this experiment.

To correct the title bar antialiasing, I tried adding “antialias=false” to the font selections in the WinClassic2 theme for IceWM, but it has no effect there. I even went as far as to recompile the entire IceWM package and disable it at that level, but the font is still strectched in a way that looks a little blurry to me. Unsatisfactory. … šŸ˜

For an icon theme I finally found GnomeXP, which is apparently the original XP icons shuffled around to flesh out a Gnome-style icon theme. It seems to fit the bill, although to be honest PCManFM was showing the wrong icons for most everything, so I dodged that problem by installing Xfe and picking the Windows 95 theme (with the base color corrected to the Raleigh color) and the Windows icons. It was easier that way, and it’s just a file manager.

Strangely enough there seems to be some sort of font smoothing happening with the FOX toolkit too — Xfe’s interface has the same effect as IceWM’s titlebars. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really something I want to chase. …

And of course I added the Microsoft core fonts package, and then the Classic-White X11 mouse theme, which made everything just about correct for me.

Added software includes Leafpad, which looks and acts like Notepad; gPicView, which is a perfect knockoff of the XP image viewer; Audacious with the Winamp Classic skin for XMMS; AlsaPlayer, which looks like a strange Media Player hybrid in this theme; and of course, little things like GTK2.0 Change Theme and scrot and so forth.

It works, even if it’s not perfect. And that’s about where my interest in the project fell short. I suppose I should work out a way to make the menus more like XP, but those seem to be at the whim of IceWM (pun intended) and with the exception of the right-click menu, it’s not that big a deal.

Here are the configuration files for IceWM, if you want to tamper with it yourself. Post screenshots if you get something closer to the “ideal.” šŸ˜‰


# This is an example for IceWM's menu definition file.
# Place your variants in /etc/X11/icewm or in $HOME/.icewm
# since modifications to this file will be discarded when you
# (re)install icewm.
prog	"Terminal emulator"	xterm	urxvt
prog	"Mozilla Firefox" 	/usr/share/pixmaps/firefox-3.0.png	firefox
menu 	Applications 	folder 	{
	menu 	Accessories 	folder 	{
		prog 	Leafpad	leafpad	leafpad
		prog	Xfe	explorer	xfe
	menu	Graphics	folder	{
		prog	gPicView	gpicview	gpicview
	menu	Multimedia	folder	{
		prog	AlsaPlayer	alsaplayer	alsaplayer
		prog 	Audacious	xmms		audacious
	menu Network folder {
		prog "Mozilla Firefox" /usr/share/pixmaps/firefox-3.0.png firefox
	menu	System	folder	{
		prog	"GTK2.0 Change Theme"	gtk-chtheme	gtk-chtheme
		prog	"rxvt-unicode"	urxvt	urxvt

Important lines changed in the default preferences file. (The entire file is huge; I made this by diff’ing my version and the original at /usr/share/icewm/preferences, then grepping out only lines that started with the less-than symbol.)

MenuActivateDelay=0 # [0-5000]
QuickSwitchMaxWidth=1 # 0/1
QuickSwitchSmallWindow=1 # 0/1
QuickSwitchToAllWorkspaces=1 # 0/1
QuickSwitchVertical=0 # 0/1
RebootCommand="sudo /sbin/reboot"
ShowAbout=0 # 0/1
ShowFocusModeMenu=0 # 0/1
ShowHelp=0 # 0/1
ShowLogoutSubMenu=1 # 0/1
ShowMoveSizeStatus=0 # 0/1
ShowProgramsMenu=0 # 0/1
ShowSettingsMenu=0 # 0/1
ShowWindowList=0 # 0/1
ShowWorkspaceStatus=0 # 0/1
ShutdownCommand="sudo /sbin/halt"
TaskbarButtonWidthDivisor=5 # [1-25]
TaskBarShowCPUStatus=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowMailboxStatus=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowNetStatus=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowWindowListMenu=0 # 0/1
TaskBarShowWorkspaces=0 # 0/1
TimeFormat="%l:%M %p "
TrayDrawBevel=1 # 0/1
UseMouseWheel=1 # 0/1


# This is a default toolbar definition file for IceWM
# Place your personal variant in $HOME/.icewm directory.

prog	"Terminal emulator"	xterm	urxvt
prog    "Web browser" 	/usr/share/pixmaps/firefox-3.0.png	x-www-browser
prog	"E-mail client"	sylpheed	sylpheed
prog	"File manager"	explorer	xfe


6 thoughts on “Oh, so close

  1. thealphanerd

    There’s a GTK theme in Ubuntu called Redmond, which gives you an even more authentic look of Windows.

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