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Installing a desktop environment just for gaming.

Discussion in 'General Linux Discussion' started by infinity8x3, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. infinity8x3

    infinity8x3 New Member

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    I have dabbled in linux since fedora core 4 but mostly for running webservers. I recently switched to linux mint full time "mostly" and learning a different side of linux has been fun.

    I'm used to running light weight desktop environments and mostly using the terminal, But have really enjoyed mint 17 cinnamon. But I have noticed a lot of cpu usage just at system idle in cinnamon and other systems with lower specs idle at 0% under lubuntu (lxde).

    So would installing a lightweight desktop environment to log into along side cinnamon and switching at login, release system resources for needed for gaming?

    If so what would be the best option to install along side cinnamon? XFCE, LXDE, ext?

    What about window managers like openbox? Would that be a easier option, or even an option at all? I don't understand window managers to well.

    Thanks
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  2. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Yes, absolutely. Cinnamon does have a lot of extra overhead, but most CPU's handle it fine.
    If you are looking to optimize just for gaming, I suggest:
    Openbox

    I have used it many times just for gaining a few frame per second.
    You can install it using Synaptics Package Manager

    Since you like the Terminal, Openbox should be right-up-your-alley!
    Its basically no menu, no GUI nothing. You can right click and run Terminal, then launch PlayOnLinux, Steam or whatever you want.

    There is a config that allows you to make your own menus or shortcuts too.
    Its a really pain for Linux beginners and gamers coming from Windows, but once you get it set, everything works GREAT
  3. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    A window manager is the program that manages windows as implied by the name. This includes the window decorators (borders around windows, close, maximize and minimize buttons), window positioning, window focus and all of that. Without a window manager, it would be very difficult to resize, move and switch between running programs.

    A desktop environment is just a collection of programs (including window manager) to create a complete desktop experience. When you run with just a window manager you will not have all the other usual desktop programs running which will free up a few system resources. Most stand-alone window managers also tend to be very light on resources.

    If you are familiar and comfortable working with the terminal, then a stand-alone window manager (like openbox) might be a very good alternative to have installed alongside cinnamon.
  4. infinity8x3

    infinity8x3 New Member

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    Openbox seems to be working great. Aside from the extra resources gained. The window manager boots up really fast compared to waiting for all of cinnamon to load. Gets you into the games faster. I think with my next install I'm going to try mint xfce.
    I grabbed a screen cap of playonlinux loaded in openbox.

    Attached Files:

  5. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Isn't that cool?
    If you want to change the resolution you can use:
    Code:
    xrandr -s 1600x1200
    This is great for older games that do not support widescreen resolutions.
    I rarely use Openbox since I have an SSD drive and Geforce GTX 950
    But its still pretty cool, less resources and very simple interface just for running games
  6. infinity8x3

    infinity8x3 New Member

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    Yes! I get into the games faster! And I have been having fun playing with the menu. I like that it's xml.
    I have made some Cinnamon specific commands for the open box menu.

    like changing gnome-terminal to start with a preset profile. One I made just for openbox.

    Opening nemo with the no desktop option so it doesn't effect your background or add icons to it.
    Changing the background with imagemagick from the menu.
    This allowed openbox to play nice with cinnamons default apps.

    One thing I did add though was conky. Setting it up was fun to I got it to list a lot of important info to a gaming setup. Network ip, gpu/cpu temps and freqs, core usage ext. And I added some code to the openbox menu to start and stop conky.

    I don't know if this kinda stuff is considered common knowledge or not. But if not then I can post the exact code edits I made to the openbox's menu.xml and to conky's .conkycr

    Thanks for the suggestions :)
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  7. ThunderRd

    ThunderRd Irreverent Query Chairman Staff Member

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    screenshot-20160403@231928.jpg screenshot-20160403@232140.jpg screenshot-20160403@232228.jpg

    On my main box running Gentoo, I use a tiling window manager [xmonad] and no DE at all. If you are comfortable in the terminal, I would recommend that you take a look at it. It is available in the Mint/Debian repos.

    It's written in Haskell, which is an extremely weird programming language, but with a little practice and study you can do pretty much anything with it.

    If you look in the top right of these screenshots, you will see that it uses almost no CPU resources at idle, and from a user experience, it is very, very fast. Keystrokes will take you immediately to any of 9 workspaces. It is also highly configurable, and can be set up to acommodate your personal preferences, including startup programs, window sizes, positions, and locations within the workspaces. BTW, just for the record, it's prettier than Openbox. And you don't have to move windows around, because it tiles all of your open windows for you automatically.

    In the first shot, on the right side, you'll see a conky-like display modified to show all kinds of system stats, similar to what you need.

    Xmonad is ultra-geeky, but SUPER efficient. I try to get folks interested in it because it has been a completely satisfying experience for me. Great live support in #haskell and #xmonad on Freenode, as well.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  8. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    Nice setup there Thunder, very visually appealing. My i3 setup is nowhere near as nice visually, I also have slightly different preferences. I am not using conky, instead I decided to go for several terminal windows running htop as well as some custom scripts.

    i3setup.jpg
    The bottom left terminal is simply displaying the raw output from lm_sensors updated every 15 seconds. I've been planning on parsing it a bit, and also including GPU temperature, I just have not gotten around to that yet.

    Pretty much all the cpu and memory usage comes from mysql (mariadb), firefox, dropbox and steam. So like Xmonad, i3 is very lightweight.

    I like the tabbed views that i3 offer, and I use it quite a lot on my workspaces.

    i3tabbed.jpg

    If you turn out to prefer running just a window manager instead of a full desktop environment, then I will do like Thunder and suggest that you give tiling window managers a try. There are of course more than the few we have mentioned here. But if you are finding Openbox to your liking and perfect for your needs, then I suggest sticking with it for now.
  9. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Yes, please post the code you are using for all of your changes.
    I tried using Openbox for 5 laptops with some old games. It was fun to customize the desktop with shortcuts to the games and launching Steam/PlayOnLinux automatically.
  10. infinity8x3

    infinity8x3 New Member

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    This is my openbox menu.xml so far.
    Code:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    
    <openbox_menu xmlns="http://openbox.org/"
            xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
            xsi:schemaLocation="http://openbox.org/
                    file:///usr/share/openbox/menu.xsd">
    
    <menu id="root-menu" label="Openbox 3">
      <item label="Terminal emulator">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>gnome-terminal --window-with-profile=openbox</execute></action>
      </item>
      <item label="Web browser">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>firefox mypitbullpro.com</execute></action>
      </item>
      <item label="File manager">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>nemo --no-desktop</execute></action>
      </item>
      <item label="Text editor">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>gedit</execute></action>
      </item>
      <item label="Image viewer">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>eog</execute></action>
      </item>
      <item label="Media player">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>vlc</execute></action>
      </item>
    <separator />
            <menu id="games-menu" label="Games">
    
                      <item label="Playonlinux">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>playonlinux</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
                      <item label="Steam">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>steam</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
            </menu>
      <!-- Start and stop conky -->
    <separator />
            <menu id="conky-menu" label="Conky">
    
                      <item label="Turn on">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>conky</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
                      <item label="Turn off">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>killall conky</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
            </menu>
      <!-- Set the background in openbox the images must be present to work -->
    <separator />
            <menu id="background-menu" label="Set background">
    
                      <item label="Option 1">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>display -dispose background -window root /usr/share/backgrounds/linuxmint/linuxmint.jpg</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
                      <item label="Option 2">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>display -dispose background -window root ~/Pictures/openboxbg2.jpg</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
                      <item label="Option 3">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>display -dispose background -window root ~/Pictures/openboxbg3.jpg</command></action>
    
                      </item>
                      <item label="Turn off">
    
                        <action name="Execute"><command>xsetroot -solid "#303030"</command></action>
    
                      </item>
    
            </menu>
      <!-- This requires the presence of the 'menu' package to work -->
      <menu id="/Debian" />
      <separator />
      <menu id="client-list-menu" />
      <separator />
      <item label="ObConf">
        <action name="Execute"><execute>obconf</execute></action>
      </item>
      <item label="Reconfigure">
        <action name="Reconfigure" />
      </item>
      <item label="Restart">
        <action name="Restart" />
      </item>
      <separator />
      <item label="Exit">
        <action name="Exit" />
      </item>
    </menu>
    
    </openbox_menu>
    I'm no expert, I'm just trying things and seeing if they work.
    I would like criticism plz.
    Thanks.

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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
  11. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    So are most of the menu's on the right-click in Openbox?
  12. Daniel~

    Daniel~ Chief BBS Administrator Staff Member

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    Over my head..but fun to watch just the same ":O}
  13. Aryvandaar

    Aryvandaar Active Member

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    Xfce uses a bit more resources than Openbox but not much. If you have all the extra stuff with openbox like tint2 panel and such the difference isn't much at all.

    I've been using KDE Plasma 5 for some time now, but it looks like I will be going back to Xfce on my desktop.
  14. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    is Xfce very minimal like Openbox? Or does it have a default menu and GUI setup?
  15. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    I used Xfce for a couple of years, and I would personally call it a very feature complete desktop environment. There is a menu, settings, pretty much all the things you would expect in a desktop environment. It is just not as "fleshed out" as the big DE's.
  16. Aryvandaar

    Aryvandaar Active Member

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    Most people I know of use Openbox with tint2, conky etc. Openbox with extra features that makes it more like the DE doesn't take that much less resources than Xfce.

    Unless you really want to use Openbox you might as well use Xfce for a minimal desktop that doesn't interfere with gaming and other heavier tasks.
  17. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    I just liked Openbox for multiple LAN computers. My friends can run LAN games from a single menu. They can't do anything else unless they know terminal commands.

    I used Openbox on 5 laptops with Mint installed. It worked perfectly. I created simple shortcuts to PlayOnLinux and Steam games, then just made sure nemo ran when Openbox loaded. This way I could have a desktop wallpaper and shortcuts to the games. Thats it.

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