Handling right clicks on a macbook running Linux – The 2011 Awesome Edition

2 years ago I had written a post about handling right clicks on a macbook running linux. Along with changing my window manager of choice, I think I’ve found a better/more elegant solution to that problem.

On my computer’s workspaces one will normally find one or two browser windows open, some instant messaging applications (skype,pidgin), an mp3 player (audacious2) and terminals. Lots of them. I need them to ssh to the servers I monitor/administer and for coding (with vim of course!). I even use one for my email client (mutt). So I need my terminals to be as efficient as possible. After many trials over the years I’ve decided on using urxvt as my terminal of choice.

About a month ago I gave awesome a try and since then it’s been my window manager of choice instead of fluxbox. The reason behind this is mostly fluxbox’s inability to tile terminal (call me urxvt) windows efficiently while changing resolutions. I mostly use my laptop with an external 23” monitor but I wanted to be able to tile my terminals independently of using only my laptop’s screen or both laptop’s and the external one. In fluxbox you can make a window appear on specific area of the screen, so I could open 3-4 terminals on a specific workspace/monitor. Resizing though one of them to fit some monitoring program more efficiently didn’t resize the others ‘automagically’ as well. So, I had to manually resize all open windows of that workspace. Yes, this is horrible from a usability point of view, luckily I didn’t have to do it that frequently. So, I gave awesome a try for its tiling features. I really miss though fluxbox’s tabbing features that I constantly used along with it’s amazing keybindings flexibility (Rant: isn’t it stupid that you have to write your keybindings in lua for awesome and in haskell for xmonad ?) but the tiling capabilities of awesome are currently more important to me.

So while my previous solution for right clicking without a mouse worked pretty well for fluxbox, in my new awesome world I’ve replaced it with xautomation tools. First of all, one needs to install xautomation tools

aptitude install xautomation

Then find clientbuttons configuration part in the default ~/.config/awesome/rc.lua and add this line to it:

awful.button({ modkey }, 2, function () awful.util.spawn("xte 'mouseclick 3'") end)

restart awesome and try modkey + 3 finger tap on your touchpad. You should be seeing a right click “menu”.
If you don’t know what 3 finger tap is or how to configure it, read the 2009 article.

That’s it, no more xbindkeys + xvkbd for awesome.

Playing with Synergy on Gentoo and Debian

I currently have Gentoo/x86 on my desktop system and Debian/testing on my laptop. I wanted a way to be able to use the laptop’s trackpad to control the cursor on the desktop or to use the desktop’s mouse to control the cursos on the laptop. Thankfully I was able to do that with Synergy.

On Gentoo:
# emerge x11-misc/synergy
On Debian:
# aptitude install synergy

My config is pretty simple. That’s Debian’s (hostname lola) /etc/synergy.conf:

section: screens

section: links
        right = athlios
        left  = lola

section: aliases

When I want to control athlios (desktop) from lola (laptop), I start synergys on lola, ssh to athlios and start synergyc lola. That’s it, I can then control desktop’s mouse and keyboard from laptop’s touchpad and keyboard. When I move the lola’s cursor far to the right, the cursor starts moving on the desktop. Then if I start typing on the laptop’s keyboard I am actually typing on the desktop. Moving the cursor far to the left of the desktop’s monitor, the cursor starts moving again on the laptop.

A problem that I faced was that some keys (Left and Down arrow) stop repeating if you press them continuously when you start synergyc. The solution is posted on the synergy article on gentoo wiki. You just have to type: xset r 113 (left arrow) and xset r 116 (down arrow) to activate them, then move your mouse to the synergy server and back to the synergy client. If you try typing on the machine where the synergy client has started using its keyboard you will see that repeating doesn’t work at all. Just type xset r to get it back working if you need it.

For people having more than one machine on their desk, synergy is a real salvation in order to stop switching keyboards and mice all the time.