Building Native Linux Apps from Webpages with Nativefier

For a long time now, when I’ve wanted to open a page as something closer to a native app, I’ve been using Google Chromes/Chromiums –app command line switch. Like this:

Chromium --app=http://codeanywhere.com

This works pretty well, but I’ve always just done it from the command line, which left me a little annoyed that I couldn’t launch it in the same way as my other apps. Enter “nativefier”, an app using ‘electron’ to build Webapps on your native OS (works for MacOS, WIndows, or Linux).

To create your native app is super simple, install “nativefier”  open a terminal, and type:

 nativefier http://codeanywhere.com --name codeanywhere

Where the URL is the page you want to make an app from, and the name is the name of the app without spaces.

Optional: For me, an avid I3wm user, I also went ahead and created a symbolic link in /usr/local/bin so that I can launch my new app from Dmenu.

 sudo ln -s /home/don/tmobiledigits-linux-x64/tmobiledigits /usr/local/bin/tmobiledigits

That’s it, you should now be rocking a webpage as a native application!

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Wifi Gui – Arch Linux – I3wm

I got sick of using the wifi-menu command everytime I started up my Arch Linux i3 box pretty quick, so I had to figure out how to get networkmanager going after the fact. Here’s how:

Install the networkmanager package, you’ll probably want the network-manager-applet package too (to put an icon in your taskbar). Now you’re probably thinking… this should frickety work now, right? Not so fast, you’ve got to enable and start the networkmanager service to make your headache stop:

 systemctl enable NetworkManager.service

and then:

 systemctl start NetworkManager.service

Finally, if you’re using i3wm, you’re gonna wanna put the applet in your ~/.config/i3/config file so it runs at startup:

exec nm-applet

Now, you can rest your weary hands, at startup, and connect automagically.

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Manjaro – I3wm – Tap to Click – xf86-input-libinput

For some reason, on Manjaro’s I3wm Community edition the tap to click feature is not set up out of the box. Here’s the fix:

  1. Create a config file from your terminal shell: sudo touch /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/30-touchpad.conf
  2. Open the file in nano: sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/30-touchpad.conf
  3. Paste in the following code, and save out the file:
    Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "MyTouchpad"
    MatchIsTouchpad "on"
    Driver "libinput"
    Option "Tapping" "on"
    EndSection
  4. Logout/in (or just restart) and now tap to click should be working once again!

Using FEH to Display a Wallpaper on your Desktop – I3WM

The following command is an example of how to a background using the feh command line tool:

feh --bg-scale ~/pictures/Manjaro.png

Other scaling options for feh include:

--bg-tile
--bg-center
--bg-max
--bg-fill

To start the background on startup, add the following to your startup file (e.g. ~/.xinitrc, ~/.i3/config):

sh ~/.fehbg &

Linux Flavor of the Month – Manjaro – I3WM -Review

Manjaro Linux’s tagline is “Enjoy the Simpliciy”. If you’ve ever taken Arch Linux (the distro Manjaro is based on) for a spin you will probably wonder… “How the hell can anything based on Arch be easy?” Even as a seasoned IT Pro and Developer, Arch tested my patience on my first install. This is the main reason I’ve always kind of shied away from Manjaro, as I’ve grown quite accustom to Debian and Debian based distros. Like any good Tinkerer though, I eventually wanted to try a new window manager, and had a peticular interest in trying a Tiling Window Manager. I settled on taking I3WM for a spin.

I first tried I3WM in Ubuntu, while I thought the idea of a “window snapping on steroids” was pretty cool. There were some pretty basic pieces of the puzzle missing (such as sound controls not working without additional setup/ more packages being installed.) Therefore, I wanted to give the Tiling window manager another go, this time with a distro that supported the tiling window manager out of the box. Enter Manjaro. With a ton of community supported versions, Manjaro seemed on the surface to be Arch, without a mountain of setup. I downloaded, installed, and immediately felt the difference.

Manjaro I3WM
Manjaro I3WM

Clearly, the creators of Manjaro I3WM gave a nice amount of effort to make this a much sexier version of I3WM (As I’ve toyed around with different versions of Manjaro, I’ve noticed a very good job being done with design.) Sound works out of the box, and I3’s info bar (dock) has been reworked to not only be prettier,  but to also display more useful information. Many useful command line and GUI pakages are installed; ranger (file manager), yaourt, pacman (package managers), and htop (system monitor) are amongst the MVPs. The makers of this version of Manjaro had an eye for UI/UX, as there is even a quick tip section on the desktop to get you started with I3WM.

As good as this version of Linux looks, it runs just as fast. Using less than 235MB of memory on a liveCD boot, you will be damned pleased with performance on most any machine.

There really are not many drawbacks to most versions of Manjaro from what I can see. It’s sleek, sexy, and fast. However, while I love I3WM, it is certainly not for people who don’t like learning curves. It took me a while to understand how to properly snap windows the way I wanted, and to understand some other caveats of using such a unique window manager. However, with that learning curve comes great reward.  After some fiddling and reading, My tiles pretty much auto populate with programs that I have set to run at start, and my workflow has never been faster.

While I think most people with the patience to learn Manjaro I3WM will love it, it takes a certain desire to appreciate the system. If you want something really simple, go for another version of Manjaro, if you want something super powerful and simple by comparison, Give Manjaro I3WM a whirl. As a developer, I’d give it an 88/100.

Some I3WM must-have documentation:

Quick Reference – http://i3wm.org/docs/refcard.html

User Guide – http://i3wm.org/docs/userguide.html

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