Scientific Operations

X11 Programs

All the programs on this page are free and available for download in source form. There are no binaries available even if you're very pretty and ask very nicely. Well, maybe if you're very pretty, but I'll be expecting proof, and the judge's decision is final.

The programs are all fairly minimalist, but that's the way I like them.

If you try any of these programs, please mail me to let me know how you get on - whatever you think of them. I'm particularly interested in generalisations or simplifications that further the programs' minimalist nature.


lock - X Display Locker (last updated 1999-05-28) [source .tar.gz - 3 KBytes]

lock is a simple display locker so that you can safely leave your X terminal unattended. It doesn't blank the screen (the X server can do that - see xset(1)) and it doesn't have any pretty graphics. You're supposed to be leaving your terminal unattended, remember? Buy yourself a telly if you want something to watch.

Running lock locks all the screens on the display. To unlock the display, type your password and press Return.

While the display is locked the screen is covered by a blank window and the mouse cursor is hidden. A one-line message is displayed (by default this is "This X display is locked. Please supply the password.").

As you type each successive character of your password, an asterisk is shown. The Backspace key deletes the last character typed and the Esc key starts again.

You can change both the one-line message and the font used to display it using X resources. The message is resource message while the font is, unsurprisingly, font. You can also change the system-wide defaults by editing lock.h and recompiling.

On Linux systems, lock disables virtual consoles while running.


terminator - Simple X Session Manager (last updated 1997-10-27) [source .tar.Z - 2 KBytes]

Syntax: terminator [daemon]

terminator is an imitation of two programs that are part of Silicon Graphics' IRIX operating system, reaper(1) and endsession(1).

The idea is to run terminator as the last program in your Xinitrc or .xsession, making it the program upon which the session hangs. It places a property on the root window, and waits for it to be altered. When the property is altered, the daemon terminator terminates, causing the X11 login session to end.

If run without an argument, terminator behaves as endsession(1), ending the login session. If run with an argument (say "daemon") then it behaves as reaper(1), waiting for the session to end.

In your .xsession (if you're a user installing this just for yourself) or your Xinitrc (if you're an administrator installing this for all users) ensure that the last line is something like terminator daemon. When you want to log out, run terminator (from the command line or from an on-screen menu or whatever). That's all there is to it!

[If you find these instructions too terse, then you probably shouldn't be trying to follow them. It's advisable to know what you're doing, or you may prevent yourself from being able to use your X server.]


window - X Window Controller (last updated 2000-02-09) [source .tar.gz - 4 KBytes]

window lets you read and write some of the attributes of X windows.

wselect shows a cursor and allows you to select a window.

The documentation gives examples of how to use these tools to do cool stuff under X without having to do any X programming yourself.


speckeysd - Special Keys Daemon (last updated 2006-10-12) [source .tar.gz - 3 KBytes]

speckeysd is an imitation of Sun's Solaris program of the same name. It lets you attach commands to hot-key combinations.

It's possible, for example, in combination with a program like window, to add Alt-Tab or Alt-F4 style functionality to a window manager that doesn't support hot keys. (lwm being an example that springs to mind.)

I only wrote this program to show that it could be done; I don't use it myself. Because of this, the language for binding commands to keys is rather primitive, but I'd be prepared to polish it up if there were any demand for it.

Thanks to Tuncer Ayaz, Adam Sampson, and Anselm R. Garbe for their improvements.


menu - X Menu (last updated 1999-05-28) [source .tar.gz - 5 KBytes]

menu displays a menu at the top of the screen, based on a specification in a .menu file which associates labels with commands to be executed. There's also a clock at the very right-hand edge of the menu bar. I started to use menu when a new server arrived at work, and I could no longer fit everything I needed on the three buttons offered by my earlier clock program.

This program is a bit rough around the edges, and has the misfortune of working well enough that I have little inclination to polish it. If you want to see improvement, you should prod me. Those who don't live in prodding distance could consider sending me mail.


clock - A Novel Clock (last updated 1998-08-27) [source .tar.gz - 3 KBytes]

You might not notice that clock is running. It opens a tiny window (4 square pixels) in the top right of the screen and waits for the pointer to enter it. When the pointer does enter, the window expands to display the current date and time.

You can set what the "clock" actually displays using the viewCommand resource. This is a program to be executed, whose output will be displayed as the "time". You can thus call a shell-script which gives both the time and "new mail" notification, say.

For left-handed users, there is the leftHanded resource. Giving this a value will cause clock to open its window in the top left corner of the screen.

You can also set the action of the three mouse buttons using X resources. I have xkill on button 2 and lock on button 3. So to lock the screen, I throw the mouse and hit button 3. To kill a wayward program I throw the mouse, hit button 2, find the window that's to die and kaboom!