Getting Started with the Awesome Window Manager

I’ve been a Gnome user for a while now. It’s been good to me but I’m a minimalist and lately it feels like I’ve been spending a lot of time fighting against Gnome. This past week I bought a new SSD for my laptop but instead of just copying my system over to this new disk I decided to rebuild it from scratch and give the Awesome Window Manager a try.

First off Awesome is beyond minimal. Get comfortable on the keyboard if you give this a try. I’m a huge fan, the less I have to touch the mouse the happier I am. The one thing that gave me trouble was getting my sound up and running. Here’s how I got to a fix:


Gnome does lots of stuff for you that I didn’t even know was happening. I’m not going to get into the complicated stuff like auto mounting encrypted volumes (that’s for next time). This time It’s the simple stuff: running daemons when you log in.

The Awesome wiki has an Autostart page that was super useful. I grabbed the simple run_once function and put this in rc.lua. This works for starting stuff like xscreensaver:


The problem I ran into with sound was actually related. Squeeze changed the way the jackd server gets started. There used to be an init script that fired it up but no more. Squeeze dropped this behavior and now pushes off the responsibility to user space applications so if you app expects jackd to be running be prepared to start it.

So after installing banshee it freaked out crapping errors all over the console. There were tons of exceptions indicating that lots of the expected Gnome infrastructure was missing but the one that’s actually relevant to why sound wasn’t working is:

Cannot connect to server socket err = No such file or directory
Cannot connect to server socket
jack server is not running or cannot be started

With an error message that says “… or cannot be started” you’d think banshee tried to start jackd but once I started jackd manually the problem went away. So starting jackd when awesome starts up is the answer!

run_once("jackd","-d alsa -d hw:0")

gnome-power-manager and S3 sleep

If you’re on a laptop like me you’ll want gnome-power-manager running. It’s comforting having that battery icon in the tray right? Anyway just throw it in your rc.lua file same as before. Squeeze has great support for my ThinkPad x61s so all of the acpi tool and even the function keys work great for putting my system into S3.

jackd and S3 don’t play nice

The problem I’m dealing with now is that after my laptop wakes up from S3 jackd is hosed. It doesn’t crash outright but I don’t get any sound from Totem or other media players (yeah I prefer Totem over Banshee) so I’ve gotta restart it after I wake up from a suspend.

I’m not sure how to automate this yet. Hopefully it won’t come down to hacking the suspend scripts directly. I’m not even sure where these live … till next time.

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