Goodbye AWN

It would appear that Avant Window Navigator is dead:

Stable release 	0.4.0 / April 11, 2010; 2 years ago

Which is a pity: I liked AWN. But the fact that its task manager doesn’t work properly has become a deal-breaker: after days of trying, I’ve finally given up at attempting to make AWN’s task manager realise that I have Eclipse running.

I have an eclipse launcher set up in awn. While Eclipse’s splash screen is showing, AWN recognises that eclipse is running, but as soon as the main window opens, awn does it’s “window closed” animation and refuses to acknowledge that the window which currently has focus deserves any kind of icon in the task manager.

If it came up with a duplicate icon – one in the taskbar in addition to the launcher – that’d be acceptable. But it doesn’t do that. Instead, it makes it impossible to switch to a minimised eclipse without using ALT-TAB, or the xfce-panel on my 2nd monitor (which isn’t always on). Clicking on the launcher launches a 2nd copy of eclipse, which then (rightfully) whinges that the eclipse workspace is in use and can’t be opened.

I found a couple of people who had similar issues. I tried a bunch of things to work around it.

On one forum, somebody explained that it’s hard to match windows to running processes…which is fair enough…

…except that the xfce panel seems to manage it just fine.
…and so does gnome panel
…and so does cairo-dock
…and, presumably, whatever KDE uses
…and, I expect, docky
…and, more than likely, dockbarx

And the awn devs would appear to have all been hit by a bus: domains have expired and are redirecting to spam sites; IRC is dead, and I’m yet to find any remnant of the awn community. Which is a real pity.

So I’ve installed cairo-dock. It looks nice, and somehow feels ‘more snappy’ than awn: maybe this is because cairo-dock’s ratio of plugins written in python is low: most of them would seem to be C++, with only a couple of the prepackaged ones being python. My only complaints about cairo-dock are:

  • The ‘Indicator old’ applet is retarded: it has drawing issues (draws a grey box where an icon used to be), and why can’t it just display in the dock, like every other applet in existence? why should I need to click on it’s (nonexistent – it just renders as blackness) icon to actually see my systray? This is only a minor annoyance since the only thing I have which refuses to cooperate with the ‘new’ indicator applet is the seldomly-used fusion icon, and vmware (who’s systray icon i don’t use)
  • The context menus on some items are behaving suite wierdly: they’re not tall enough. And sometimes they don’t render clicks. except sometimes they do, and that sometimes they are tall enough. It seems very random.

This very likely means that in the near future I’ll be extending NodeUtil to have a cairo-dock applet, since this is the only thing I really miss from awn.

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