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Zero Desktop Environment Survivor Kit

An opinionated set of configs and tools for living without a "proper" desktop environment.

Here's how it looks like:

0desk screenshot

Included stuff:

  • some utils in bin for setting wallpaper and configuring monitors (check the bin section below)
  • some opinionated configs usable from lift off
    • xinitrc and Xresources
    • configs for fontconfig with pretty rendering and some common overrides (for sans-serif override you need the Source Sans Pro font)
    • configs for openbox
    • tint2 theme

Scripts in bin

xlock and autolock: autolock is a background task that listens to dbus and launch xlock when computer is going to sleep or hibernate modes. xlock is a wrapper for i3lock that show an image of a lock :).

wallpaper is a simple GUI wallpaper selector (uses feh as the wallpaper setter).

deadmouse is a remote control for MPD (used to be for DeaDBeeF). It's designed to be used with a wireless mouse to control the player. It displays a full-screen window to catch all mouse input (and so you can turn off the monitor). To close the application you have to use keyboard like Alt-Tab, Alt-F4, etc.

deadmouse button mapping

Button mapping:

  • left: toggle play/pause
  • back/forwad (the buttons usually under thumb): previous/next track
  • middle: zzz
  • scroll wheel: control volume using amixer


A simple video output controller.
Allows to compose connected outputs in various ways.
Treats LVDS1 (the usual laptop screen output) as disconnected
if the lid is closed.

Usage: monitors <command> [resolution] [output1 [output2 [...]]]

Normally connected outputs are detected but you can override
them by passing them explicitly


  auto [outputs...]
    set all connected or selected monitors to their native resolutions,
    position them all with shared left upper corner
    (useful when setting one monitor only)

  mirror [resolution] [outputs...]
    set selected resolution or the same optimal resolution on all screens

  horiz [outputs...]
    arrange monitors horizontally with their native resolutions
  vert [outputs...]
    arrange monitors vertically with their native resolutions


Dependencies (names as in ArchLinux official repos):

alsa-utils batti exo feh gnome-icon-theme gnome-themes-standard htop i3lock network-manager-applet openbox pygtk system-config-printer-gnome thunar tint2 volumeicon xfce4-notifyd xfce4-appfinder xfce4-screenshooter xorg-xrandr xorg-xrdb

Optional dependencies from AUR:

  • Source Sans Pro from AUR or from the repo:


  • xbrightness to controll brightness in software (if your monitor is too bright in the lowest setting)

Clone to ~/.0desk or ~/.config/0desk

The script is intended to set links to files in the repo but it's a TDB for now.

Usage Tips

There's no menu or launchers in the task bar. Instead the Openbox menu is used. It can be reached clicking the right button anywhere on the desktop or on the taskbar.

Some extra global short-cuts defined Openbox config:


  • right click on the desktop shows Openbox menu with some predefined apps and actions such as zzz, hibernate power off, etc.
  • Alt-F2 -- xfrun4 (simple run dialog)
  • Alt-F3 -- xfce4-appfinder (list of all installed apps)
  • Win-Return -- whatever application you have set in "Preferred Applications" exo-preferred-applications
  • PrintScreen -- screenshot of the whole screen (xfce4-screenshooter)
  • Alt-PrintScreen -- screenshot of the active window
  • Pause -- play/pause MPD

Monitors management:

  • Win-P -- monitors auto (a safe default to activate all connected monitors)
  • Win-Shift-P -- monitors mirror
  • Brightness Up/Down -- does what's advertised

Windows management:

  • Win-F11: full screen (even if application doesn't support this)
  • Win-Up/Down: minimizes / maximizes / restores the active window depending on its current state (Win-Up Maximizes, Win-Down restores if maximized and minimizes if it's in normal state).
  • Win-Left/Right: maximizes the active window vertically and grows it left or right (shrinks if given edge is met).
  • Scroll Up on a title bar: maximize
  • Scroll Down on a title bar: restore / minimize
  • Scroll Up on task bar: activate
  • Scroll Down on task bar: minimize
  • Middle button on task bar: close

Configuration Tips

X11 on Login

It's convenient to set X11 to start after login on first virtual terminal (tty1), put this in your ~/.zlogin or ~/.bash_login:

if [ `tty` = /dev/tty1 ]; then
  mv .xsession-errors .xsession-errors.old
  exec startx > .xsession-errors 2>&1

SSH Agent

To start SSH agent in your session put this in your ~/.zlogin or ~/.bash_login:

eval `ssh-agent`


Changes that goes to the visual customization category probably belong to forks but I will welcome any suggestions on how to improve the default configuration even if it doesn't match my taste exactly :). In that case we can create a fork for the default config and this repo will become an another customization fork.

Any contributions improving the functionality are welcome :).

Some suggestions and how originally I thought about this project:

  • minimize dependencies but don't write something if it already exists and can be used without its DE (for example some stuff from XFCE like the exo is used)
  • graphical utilities probably should be written in pygtk (like the wallpaper setter and deadmouse) because of the previous point
  • avoid hard dependencies (leave the choice of things like a terminal, file manager and a browser to the user, so use exo-open --launch TerminalEmulator instead of hardcoding terminal for example)


MIT, check the COPYING file.


Zero Desktop Environment Survivor Kit for Linux




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