awesome battery widget

I spent a few hours last night customizing the awesome window manager (wm) on my new laptop install. I’ve been using awesome for a while now (years) but I haven’t done much by way of customizing my setup. The default config from Debian, with a few small tweeks to default tags and layouts, has been sufficient. But having a battery gauge on my laptop is pretty important so I carved out a few minutes to set this up.

As always I’m not the first person to have this problem. Luckily those that came before me put their work up on github so all I had to do was clone awesome-batteryinfo, copy battery.lua into my ~/.config/awesome directory and integrate the battery widget into my rc.lua.

Integrating this widget is pretty painless. There are four steps: First you have lua pull in battery.lua:


Second you instantiate the widget:

mybatterywidget = widget({type = "textbox", name = "batterywidget", align = "right" })

Third you place the widget in a wibox. Debian has a wibox positioned across the top of each screen. I took the batterywidget created above and added it to the wibox widget list along side the layoutbox, textclock etc. My final mywibox.widgets looks like this:

mywibox[s].widgets = {
        layout = awful.widget.layout.horizontal.leftright
    s == 1 and mysystray or nil,
    layout = awful.widget.layout.horizontal.rightleft

Finally I set up a timed event to update the widget every 20 seconds. I also seeded the widget text to show the battery data at the time the widget is created. This means that the widget will come up with meaningful data before the first even fires (20 seconds after init):

-- seed the battery widget: don't wait for first timer
mybatterywidget.text = batteryInfo("BAT0")
-- timer to update battery widget
mybatterywidget_timer = timer({timeout = 20})
mybatterywidget_timer:add_signal("timeout", function()
    mybatterywidget.text = batteryInfo("BAT0")

That’s all there is to it. Thanks to koenwtje for the great widget. I should probably collect my awesome configs into a git repo so I don’t have to go back and rediscover how to do this every time I build a new system …

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.