Awesome is a desktop environment which masquerades as a window manager. By default, it comes with a basic top panel with a systray that can hold your favorite applets from Gnome, Xfce, etc. There are several well-known "widget" libraries which extend Awesome's basic functionality.
Awesome is a tiling window manager, which means that it can automatically arrange windows without overlapping and so that they fill up the screen. Windows can also be made to "float" (the standard behavior in Windows, OS X, etc.)
Awesome's tiling features have the following benefits:
- No wasted screen space.
- You don't have to fiddle around with the mouse/trackpad to arrange windows in a desired arrangement.
- Built-in tiling layouts cover frequent scenarios that arise.
- Tiling arrangements are easily scripted and can be invoked dynamically through keybindings.
- Mouse support is built-in throughout. For those that rely heavily on a mouse, this may help ease the transition from the typical floating window managers.
Awesome was designed to be highly customizable (see configuration section) and is particularly popular amongst "power users" who want a great deal of control over their desktop environment (Awesome has a strong following in the Arch Linux community, for example).
Awesome is very lightweight. The Zenix distro uses it and can run with as little as 128MB of RAM (only 64MB with swap partition). On my system, I found it used less resources than LXDE! Awesome does not do compositing or any effects, so is useful for systems with older graphics (compositing can be enabled by using
Installing Awesome is simple. Simply type
sudo apt-get install awesome in the terminal to install Awesome from the Ubuntu repositories. The install will include an Awesome session in the login manager, Lightdm. Starting Awesome this way will avoid many headaches over configuring it to work with your wireless, display, etc.
Awesome is configured via an external configuration file written in Lua (
~/.config/awesome/rc.lua). Knowledge of Lua is not required and a lot can be done with simple extensions and modifications of the default
/etc/xdg/awesome/rc.lua). Autostarting apps is simple: just add the appropriate "spawn" command at the end of your
awful.util.spawn_with_shell("conky &") will run
Regarding the two screenshots -- in the 'clean' version, the top panel is the default with five tags (or "workspaces") on the left and various vicious widgets running on on the right.
pidgin are in the systray area. The bottom 'panel' is actually
conky. In the 'dirty' version, conky is displaying track info from
gmusicbrowser, the windows are tiled (with one Firefox window minimized to the tasklist area), and Gnome Do is floating in center.