For however many Linux distributions there are to choose from, there are perhaps even more window managers that can be paired with them, and some have dramatically different features than the X window systems that most of us are familiar with. There’s a rabbit hole to fall down, as with most Linux-related topics, but while this tiling window manager from [caoluin], called sara, adds to the cacophony, it’s also representative of any pet project that lets us take a deep dive into something personally interesting.
What started as a desire to revive an abandoned window manager called catwm eventually evolved into a fork of sorts of another popular window manager called dwm. dwm is used as a basis or as building blocks for many other window managers, and while [caoluin] was writing sara he found that many of the solutions he found converged on the same things that dwm had already implemented. In a way, it’s reassuring if your solutions are similar to tried-and-true methods already in use. For other things he found interesting solutions, and other features that dwm has he found to be unnecessary and removed them.
Does the world need another window manager? Probably not. But we can all appreciate building something from scratch, just to see how it really works under the hood. As far as that goes, we’d consider sara a success for [caoluin], and if you’re really interested in window managers then you can take a look at his Github page or one of the more esoteric window managers we’ve seen.
This project is reminiscent of the old days when window managers were an amazing new idea. The difference is that this window-based GUI is running on an ATmega1284 microcontroller. But the behavior and speed of the interface is pretty much exactly what you’d expect if working on an early 90’s home computer. It even uses a mouse as input.
So how is this even possible? The key to the project is a serial to VGA module which handles the heavy lifting involved with generating a VGA signal. We featured one of [Andrew’s] past projects which used an AVR chip to generate the VGA signal. But that doesn’t leave nearly enough cycles to implement something like a window manager, not to mention the fact that it got nowhere near the resolution shown here.
He uses a serial mouse with an RS-232 converter chip to interact with the windows. This is best shown in his video after the break. He’s able to generate and interact with new windows. He even implemented a set of rudimentary controls which allow him to adjust the theme of the windows and drive the audio playback feature included on that VGA controller he’s using.
Continue reading “GUI Window Manager On An AVR Chip”
[ghostwalker] has put together instructions for running X11 on your Android device. This means you can run a full-blown Linux desktop environment on your phone. It requires you to already have a Debian shell on the phone, which we covered earlier. Instead of having to come up with a custom display driver, it’s hooked to a VNC server. You can connect to it using an Android VNC viewer on the phone or via any other VNC client. The how-to suggests either IceWM or the even lighter-weight LXDE for a window manager. You could potentially install Gnome or KDE, but we’d be surprised if it was any faster than dog slow. Let us know if you have any success with this and what you think the best use is.