Rat Poison - Say good-bye to the rodent


Tammie gave this presentation on the Ratpoison window manager at a FVLUG meeting. The origin of the project name is interesting; for a discussion, see: http://ratpoison.sourceforge.net/inspiration.html

We didn't get to spend much time on this so I thought I would put some more details here for anyone interested.

Here's a nice one line description straight from their homepage: "Ratpoison is a simple Window Manager with no fat library dependencies, no fancy graphics, no window decorations, and no rodent dependence."

It is largely based on screen and uses many of the same keyboard conventions. All commands are entered by keystroke, though the mouse can be used within your programs as usual. Ratpoison has a prefix map to minimize the key clobbering that cripples Emacs and others. It also gives you the ability to map almost all the keys on your keyboard to various commands on the fly and through the .ratpoisonrc file which lives in your home directory.

All the windows are maximized and kept that way unless you choose to split the screen into 2 or more parts. This can be done vertically and/or horizontally and they have recently added the ability to resize the frames. In order to split the current window, use C-t s for a horizontal split and C-t S to split it vertically. C-t tab is used to cycle through ratpoison's frames and C-t Q gets out of split mode altogether.

Once you're in ratpoison you may wonder how to run a program or command. C-t ! allows you to run a shell command and you can also setup any number of programs to execute on startup in the .ratpoisonrc file. When you have a bunch of windows open use C-t w or C-t C-w to show a list of open windows. The current window is marked by a star. You can move between windows by using C-t 0-9 (which jumps to the specified window) or C-t Space or C-t C-Space which goes to the next window.

C-t ! allows you to execute a ratpoison command. There are a number of important ratpoison commands such as quit when the time comes to shutdown X or even the computer. I won't try to cover them here since the vast majority are used for tweaking and if you want to use them you'll have the docs at hand already.


rp lets me take full use of my laptop's screen at all times. Because there are fewer options, I don't spend time fine tuning the rp configuration, which leaves me more time to do ratpoison advocacy on Wikis. :-) --chrisb ?

Anyone have a nice screenshot.jpg ? of a typical session, such as maybe with a browser window open? The site linked above has a couple of shots, but they don't have something fancy like kdevelop or mozilla running. On the otherhand, I suppose ratpoison is for older systems that don't have very many resources. --Wim

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