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Xo-Laptop-X11

The XO laptop continues to be very hackable. If you haven’t ordered one already, you really should because you only have a few days. I’ve owned some pretty sweet devices in the past, but nothing compares to this. At every turn, I find something new and cool about it, and there always seems to be a way to do the things I want to do. The only thing I need to worry about is using up all my flash drive space, but that’s what USB drives are for, I guess.

Because the Sugar interface includes an X11 window manager, you can’t fire up your favorite window manager without killing Sugar… unless you run a nested X11 server. The Xephyr server is available in the XO’s default package repository, and it can run as a client and a server at the same time: as a full-screen client of the XO’s X11 server, and as an X11 server that can contain its own session, window manager and all. (Xephyr is similar to Xnest, but supports more X extensions.)

To get it up and running, I started the Terminal activity, used su to become root, and installed Xephyr and blackbox (a nice lightweight window manager):

$ su
# yum install xorg-x11-server-Xephyr blackbox
Next, exit out of the root shell, and create a file in your home directory called xephyr.xinitrc that launches the window manager of your choice:
# exit
$ echo exec /usr/bin/blackbox > ~/xephyr.xinitrc

Now, each time you want to run Xephyr, use xinit to start up Xephyr on display :1 (if you want to run more than one Xephyr session at once, use :2, then :3, etc):

$ xinit ~/xephyr.xinitrc — /usr/bin/Xephyr :1 -ac -screen 1200×900

You should see your window manager start up; the screenshot above shows blackbox with a few clients running. I ran into a few oddities that will eventually send me running to X11 documentation; for example, arrow-up and arrow-down don’t bring up my history in the bash shell (but Ctrl-P and Ctrl-N work fine). And the screen is pretty hard to read except in reflective mode… but wow, it’s nice to have 1200×900 pixels on such a small screen!!!

Brian Jepson

I’m a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I’m not tinkering, I’m probably editing a book for Maker Media.


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