May 2009

A Few Independent X Utils

X windows is great, it is flexible, allows for doing most advanced interface operations that other (closed...) graphical systems can only dream of. One oft overlooked aspect of X windows is just the little things that can make the workstation experience a little more better. In this text a look at a some (not all and not your favorite) utilities that are designed to run just under X and not an environment or window manager in particular from a sampling of older utilities to newer ones. Please do note that many apps written for window managers or environments will in fact run just fine in other window managers or environments.

The Classics

There is a lot to be said for just using the plain old classics. By default X11R6 and X.org install a number of what one could call classic utilities. At first these might seem primitive yet put against a certain backdrop (e.g. desktop) they both look and feel right.

xclock

Xclock is a classic app that at first glance (that is to say without any options) looks pretty boring:

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Not so great to look at when one needs some precision in their time; toss in a few options and arguments and this is the result:

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Okay so that image still seems somewhat boring? Welp how about within this context:

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System Console Under X

This is a tricky one to name because xconsole and a system console under X under X are two different things. In this example we basically run a console in privileged mode which will mirror all kernel messages into the console session, here is the nifty looking one with a lot of command line options and arguments sent to it:

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Xload

The xload util is a histogram of overall system performance and is pretty boring to look at initially but not unlike other Xtools can be configured:

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Xclipboard

Not informative, not glamorous, but probably one of the coolest default X applications is xclipboard which does exactly what it says it does - copies and holds temporary text:

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Some Currents

There are literally so many applications and utils one can run in X in any situation it is unfathomable; so the best idea here is to focus one a few by type:

  • Load Watchers
  • Music Player
  • Video Player
  • Notes Clippers

Note that large applications and multimedia systems will not be examined here; just those that do their job regardless of the environment.

Gkrellm

The gkrellm utility is like xload on steroids. It is easily configurable and comes armed with a host of skins to peruse. Following are a few samples:

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Pretty neat stuff - more can be found at the main site.

GQ Mpg

The GQ Mpeg player is a multimedia player that accepts a wide variety of input formats; it also has a alot of skins:

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Movie Players

Ironically there really is only one foundation movie player worth this text (although there are many out there) and that is Xine. The xine player is essentially with few exceptions the foundation of many other movie players:

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Stickies

For those out there with plenty of screen space to waste or who do not wish to kill trees with pulp sticky notes there are a variety of desktop sticky note programs. KDE and E17 both have one but here is one that is for X in general called xpad:

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Summary

Although the X environment can come loaded with tons of applications and games it also comes loaded with a lot of fun utilities and multimedia.