Starting the Awesome window manager on Ubuntu 13.04

May 14 2013

Awesome is a window manager that you can use to replace or augment other desktop environments like Gnome Desktop and KDE. I find Awesome appealing because of the different perspective it brings to window management. Instead of windows floating free on the desktop, Awesome provides various tiled views of windows. This maximizes screen usage, and also adds some workflow. Keyboard shortcuts are plentiful and convenient (and make use of that otherwise untouched Windows key).

Installing Awesome on Ubuntu 13.04 was a piece of cake:

$ sudo apt-get install awesome awesome-extra

But from there, it got tricky. I expected to log out of my current desktop and be able to switch desktops into Awesome. But Awesome wasn't on the list of desktops. After lots of poking around, I found out why. While Awesome is configured by default, it is also disabled by default. To enable it, you ned to edit /usr/share/xsessions/awesome.desktop and set NoDisplay to false:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Highly configurable framework window manager

Once that is done, Awesome will show up on the list of desktops in LightDM when you log in. After you're logged in, you can begin to get a feel for Awesome and start tweaking it to your needs. <!--break-->