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Operating System Version 0.2

Chapter II - An Introduction to the Desktop

The Ready Linux Desktop

The Ready Linux desktop experience uses the Sawfish Window Manager to create a desktop which is designed to be similar to the Commodore 64 environment and also be useful as a modern desktop with key bindings to improve efficiency.

The terminal autostarts on boot up meaning you are ready to enter commands straight away. Conky is loaded on start up to give that C64 feel and also to give you a handy read out on your RAM usage.

Ready Screen

A lot of thought has been put into the default application selection. Where possible a terminal application has been installed as default. The reasons for this are because they are generally the lightest, quickest and look the most retro. They are certainly not always the most user friendly. But once mastered can be the most efficient on both time and resources.

Where is my Start Button and Panel?

The desktop is somewhat different to what you maybe used to. There is no panel or start button. To access the menu you can left click anywhere near the light blue border. This will give you access to all the windows and workspaces. The menu also gives you access to most of the programs installed and organised into categories. Some of the packages can only be accessed through the terminal and so will not be present in the menu. You can also shutdown or reboot the system from this menu.

Menu Screen

To keep the look and retro feel there is no panel where you can access your normal network settings, volume control, time and other options. And somewhat controversially (some would just say wrongly) it could be suggested, that they are not need.

For example, once the the network settings have been set up, they load automatically, do you really need to know the current status? Again, volume control, every program or webpage that has audio, pretty much has its own volume control. And date or time, I’m pretty sure your phone is right next to you right now with the time on screen. It’s pretty easy to get to these on Ready Linux, they just don’t clutter the beautiful desktop.

Network Settings

Ready Linux uses the network manager wicd-curses. It is extremely reliable and once setup, will load automatically and quickly on boot up. Type sudo wicd-curses into the terminal, enter your password upon request and it will load up.

Wicd Curses Screen

Wicd-curses recognises the following keyboard commands which are all case sensitive:

C or enter to connect to selected network.

F8 or Q or q to quit the client.

D to disconnect all devices from network connections.

ESC if connecting to a network to stop doing so.

F5 or R to refresh the network list.

P to bring up the preferences controller.

I to bring up hidden network scanning dialog.

H or h or ? brings up a rather simplistic help dialog.

A to raise the "About wicd-curses" dialog.

Right-arrow brings up network configuration controller for the selected network.

delete to delete the selected wired network profile (from the wired network combo box at the top).

F2 to rename the selected wired network profile (from the wired network combo box at the top).

S brings up instructions on how to edit the scripts.

O raises the Ad-Hoc network creation dialog.

X to show the list of saved wireless networks, to be able to remove them.

Volume Control

To access the volume control type alsamixer into the terminal. Alsamixer is an ncurses (textmode) based mixer program for use with the ALSA soundcard drivers. It supports multiple soundcards with multiple devices.


Alsamixer recognises the following keyboard commands:

The Left and right arrow keys are used to select the channel (or device, depending on your preferred terminology). You can also use 'n' ("next") and 'p' ("previous").

The Up and Down Arrows control the volume for the currently selected device. You can also use '+' or '-' for the same purpose. Both the left and right signals are affected. For independent left and right control, see below.

The 'B' or '=' key adjusts the balance of volumes on left and right channels. 'M' toggles muting for the current channel (both left and right). You can mute left and right independently by using ',' (or '\<') and '.' (or '>') respectively.

SPACE toggles recording: the current channel will be added or removed from the sources used for recording. This only works for valid input channels, of course. You can toggle left and right independently by using Insert (or ';') and Delete (or ') respectively.

For quick volume changes:

Page Up increases volume by 5. Page Down decreases volume by 5. End sets volume to 0.

You can also control left & right levels for the current channel independently, as follows:

[Q | W | E ] -- turn UP [ left | both | right ]
[Z | X | C ] -- turn DOWN [ left | both | right ]

If the currently selected mixer channel is not a stereo channel, then all UP keys will work like 'W', and all DOWN keys will work like 'X'.

Quit the program with ALT-Q, or by hitting ESC.

Date, Time and Calendar

If you want to find the time or date simply type ‘date’ into the terminal and you will get a display like Thu Feb 15 21:07:17 GMT 2018.

To get a calendar, Ready Linux uses the calendar and to-do lists application calcurse. It helps keeping track of events, appointments and everyday tasks. A configurable notification system reminds user of upcoming deadlines, and the curses based interface can be customised to suit user needs.

Calcurse interface contains three different panels (calendar, appointment list, and todo list) on which you can perform different actions. All the possible actions, together with their associated keystrokes, are listed on the status bar. This status bar takes place at the bottom of the screen.


At any time, the built-in help system can be invoked by pressing the '?' key. Once viewing the help screens, informations on a specific command can be accessed by pressing the keystroke corresponding to that command.

The calcurse options can be changed from the configuration menu (shown when 'C' is hit). Five possible categories are to be chosen from: the colour scheme, the layout (the location of the three panels on the screen), notification options, key bindings configuration menu, and more general options (such as automatic save before quitting). All of these options are detailed in the configuration menu.

Where is the Minimise and Maximise Icon on my Windows?

Ready Linux doesn’t have any borders on its windows. All you see, is the application using all the screen. This was partly born out of the design of the desktop and the preference to use as much of the screen as possible.

All window interactions can be done with key bindings for quick and efficient movement. Here are a few pre-defined key bindings, where the super key is the window key:

super + m = maximise window
super + u = unmaximise window
super + w = move the window with the mouse
super + r = resize window with mouse
super + d = delete window
super + left arrow = fill left hand of screen with window
super + right arrow = (you can guess)
alt + tab = cycle through windows
super + 1 = activate workspace 1
super + 2,3 or 4 = activate workspace 2,3 or 4
super + x = open lxterminal
super + f = open firefox

As you can see above. Programs can be started with the press of a couple of keys. This makes starting your common programs fast.

Next - Customising the Sawfish Windows Manager -->

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