7.3. Customizing X11

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There are a number of things you can customize in X11. For example, you can customize your xterm window, set X11 application preferences, customize the X11 application and Dock menus, and specify which window manager to use.

7.3.1. Dot-files, Desktops, and Window Managers

To customize X11, you can create an .xinitrc script in your Home directory. A sample .xinitrc script is provided in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.

Using the script as a starting point, you can specify which X11-based applications to start when X11 is launched, including which window manager you'd like to use as your default. The default window manager for X11 is the Quartz window manager (or quartz-wm). The tab window manager (or twm) is also bundled with X11, but many other window managers are available. You can visit the following web sites to get instructions and binaries for a wide variety of window managers and DTEs:









If you're going to use your own .xinitrc file and want to use the Quartz window manager, make sure you start the Quartz window manager with the command:

     exec /usr/X11R6/bin/quartz-wm 

Once you've installed X11, you'll probably want to install additional X11 applications, window managers, and perhaps other DTEs. (Even if you are using Apple's window manager, you can still run most binaries from other DTEs, such as GNOME and KDE, without using that DTE as your desktop.) One of the easiest ways to install additional window managers is to use Fink. Table 7-1 lists some of the window managers and desktops offered by Fink. (See Chapter 13 for information on installing and updating Fink.)

Table 7-1. Window managers available for Fink

Window manager/desktop

Fink package name






fvwm, fvwm2










Oroborus, oroborus2





Window Maker




Fink has entire sections (http://fink.sourceforge.net/pdb/sections.php) devoted to GNOME and KDE, where you will find an extensive set of libraries, utilities, and plug-ins. Also included in the GNOME section are GTK+, glib, and Glade. Installing GNOME and KDE may be especially useful if you want to develop software for these desktops.

Fink installs everything in its /sw directory. So, for example, if you've installed lesstif and want to use the mwm window manager, you must include /sw/bin in your path, or include /sw/bin/mwm & in your .xinitrc file to start the Motif window manager. However, if you've installed Fink according to its instructions, /sw/bin is automatically added to your command path (see Chapter 16).

You can customize the xterm window in Apple's X11 in the same way you would customize xterm on any other system running X11. You can, for example, set resources in an .Xdefaults file in your home directory or use escape sequences to set the title bar (see "Customizing the Terminal on the Fly" in Chapter 1).

7.3.2. X11 Preferences, Application Menu, and Dock Menu

You can also customize your X11 environment by setting X11's preferences via the X11 Preferences window (-,) and adding programs to its Application menu. X11's preferences are organized into two categories: Input and Output. The X11 preferences have the following options: Input

The following options are used for controlling how X11 interacts with input devices:

Emulate three-button mouse

Determines whether Option-click and -click mimic the middle and right buttons.

Use the system keyboard layout

Allows input menu changes to overwrite the current X11 keymap.

Enable keyboard shortcuts under X11

Enabled menu bar key equivalents, which may interfere with X11 applications that use the Meta modifier.

By default, all three of these options are enabled. Output

The following options are used for configuring X11's look and feel:


This pop-up menu offers the following options:

  • From Display

  • 256 Colors

  • Thousands

  • Millions

By default, the Color pop-up is set to "From Display"; if you change this setting to something else, you will need to relaunch X11 for the change to take effect.

Enable the Enter Full Screen Menu

This option is unchecked by default. When unchecked, X11 runs in rootless mode, which means that X11 windows can reside side-by-side with Aqua windows. In full-screen mode, use Option--A to toggle full-screen X11 and Aqua.

Use system alert sounds

Determines whether X11's beeps use the system alert sound, as specified in the Sound Effects preference pane (System Preferences Sound Sound Effects). If left unchecked, X11 windows use the standard Unix system beep to sound an alert. Customizing X11's Applications menu

X11's Applications menu can be used to quickly launch X11 applications, so you don't have to enter their command path. You can add other X11 applications to this menu and assign keyboard shortcuts by selecting Applications Customize to bring up the X11 Application Menu dialog window, shown in Figure 7-5.

Figure 7-5. X11 Application Menu customization window

The same X11 Application Menu customization window can be opened by Control-clicking on X11's Dock icon and selecting Applications Customize from the contextual menu. When you Control-click on X11s Dock icon, you'll see that the applications shown in Figure 7-5 are listed there as well. X11's contextual menu allows you to quickly launch other X11 applications and to switch between windows of currently running X11 applications.

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    Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks
    Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks
    ISBN: 0596009127
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2006
    Pages: 176

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