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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

By Federico Kereki on March 21, 2008 (8:00:00 AM)

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Would you like to add an animated scrollbar, such as gOS's iBar or the one on Mac OS X, to your Linux desktop? If you're looking for some eye candy but don't want a program that gobbles your RAM or CPU, then wbar is just the thing for you. This fast, small launch bar features cool effects and a modern look.

wbar contains icons that move around, grow in size, and jump up when you move your mouse over them. Clicking an icon invokes the appropriate program. The effects are hard to describe in words, so check them out for yourself.

wbar won't interfere with your standard menu bar and icons, so you can have both. It runs in all environments, including KDE, GNOME, and Xfce, and is released under the General Public License (GPL). Its current version, 1.3.3, was released in late September.

Installing and configuring wbar

You could probably install wbar with your distribution tools (I did it that way with openSUSE), but you can also easily install it from source. Get the latest version, download it to any directory, and then type in these commands:

tar xjf wbar-1.3.3.tbz2.tar.bz cd wbar-1.3.3 make sudo make install

The README file claims you can run make config to set up a personal configuration, but that doesn't work; see below. By default, wbar uses the same configuration file (/usr/share/wbar/dot.wbar) for everybody, but if you want a personal setup, copy that file to your home directory and rename it .wbar. You can edit that file by hand (follow the instructions in the README file that comes with wbar), but if you'd rather use a graphic configuration tool, download wbarconf, a setup program written in Python and GTK. Installation is trivial; just tar zxf wbarconf-theVersionYouDownloaded, then copy wbarconf/wbarconf.py to any directory you like.

To run wbarconf.py, you'll need Python (version 2.4, at least) and PyGTK (version 2.1 or later) installed. Run python wbarconf.py, and you'll get a screen showing all the programs in the bar. You can drag and drop or use the Up and Down command buttons to reorder the commands. Use the +Add command to include a new (initially empty) command, and -Remove to delete an existing one. On the top right part of the screen you can choose the font type, font size, and background image for the bar, and under that, you can pick the icon, title, and command for each option on the bar. Finish your work by clicking on Save; the next time you start wbar, it will use your options.

Running wbar

A shortcoming in wbar is that you cannot specify all its options in the configuration file; most of them must be specified at the command line. Running wbar --help lists all possible options, but it isn't particularly helpful. Explanations are terse, and you'll have to experiment a little to find out what parameter values suit you. Command-line options let you specify the position and orientation of the bar, whether to include text labels with bar icons, and icon size and display options.

If you want to run wbar automatically on login, edit a small command file as shown below, mark it as executable (chmod +x yourOwnCommand.sh), and place it in your home directory under .kde/Autostart/ if you're running KDE, or follow the appropriate instructions for other desktop environments or window managers.

#!/bin/bash wbar -above-desk -p top-right -isize 40 -nanim 5 -bpress

According to wbar's author, wbar might try to show itself before the desktop is ready. If the bar comes up looking weird (with window decorations, for example), try adding a short wait, such as sleep 5, just prior to the wbar command in your file.

Conclusion

In the eyes of many people, the fancier the desktop, the better the operating system. Adding wbar to your box is a cheap (in both RAM and CPU terms) and easy way of getting a modern-looking launch bar.

Federico Kereki is an Uruguayan systems engineer with more than 20 years' experience developing systems, doing consulting work, and teaching at universities.

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on Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: big bear on March 21, 2008 01:13 PM
Aside from being useless, space consuming and buggy, I can see people wanting WBar on their desktop. I myself can't see a real reason to use it, but then again, I am odd in that I expect things to work and be useful.

It is great for eye candy though.


[Modified by: big bear on March 21, 2008 01:13 PM]

[Modified by: big bear on March 21, 2008 01:14 PM]

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.72.173.41] on March 21, 2008 08:47 PM
Then of course, there is always "kooldock". Although it requires the base install of kde, it is equally stable on gnome and gives the desktop a fancy OSX style program launcher panel with easy configurability. Kooldock's memory requirements are much greater than "wbar" (especially if you do not already run kde as a desktop), however I have seen no noticeable performance hit on a 1.2GHz/256MiB system running with gnome.

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.156.192.33] on March 21, 2008 09:58 PM
Useless, space consuming and buggy....but its eye-candy? What am I and a million other shallow eye-candy victims waiting for!!!?

Errrr...........what was it called again?

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.95.116.76] on March 23, 2008 11:54 AM
hmm against all odds i like it. i looks sweet and is a nice feature. good post thanks for sharing.

Jonathan from <a href="http://topdir">TopDir</a>

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.112.91.198] on March 25, 2008 03:50 AM
wget http://www.tecapli.com.ar/rodolfo/wbar-1.3.3.tbz2
tar xjf wbar-1.3.3.tbz2
cd wbar-1.3.3

/bin/sh: imlib2-config: command not found
XWin.cc:2:23: error: X11/Xutil.h: No such file or directory
XWin.cc:3:23: error: X11/Xatom.h: No such file or directory

Yet I got libimlib2 installed...

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.212.29.75] on March 25, 2008 09:31 AM
Does it offer any significant advantages over Avant Window Navigator (AWN)? AWN seems to do exactly the same, but has packages for major distros, and proper graphical configuration.

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.145.180.221] on March 25, 2008 05:01 PM
my cheap laptop at home won't run AWN (thank you integrated video hardware) or compiz. but xcompmgr works just fine. Anybody know if whether this is in the fancy or fake compositing categories (the former containing compiz and not working on my computer, the latter running just fine)?

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Turn your launch bar into eye candy with wbar

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.19.169.9] on April 20, 2008 09:05 AM
It is definitely faster than AWN.
Ubuntu users need "libimlib2-dev" to satisfy dependency.
The command to launch wbar doesn't work on my installtion. -p should be changed to -pos

wbar -above-desk -pos top-right -isize 40 -nanim 5 -bpress

more help needed?
http://anojrs.blogspot.com/2008/04/pimping-up-your-launchbar-with-wbar.html

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