I'm a relatively new Linux user. I started with Ubuntu 20.04 a few months ago, and eased myself into the experience, learning a bit of the command line and becoming familiar with the system structure

I'd now like to move up a bit in the world, and improve my productivity by working on a tiling window manager. I've started using AwesomeWM, and I've loved the experience so far. The only issue is that, being a window manager rather than a full DE, there are a number of key features missing, like volume control. I've made due without some, and I've had to go back into Gnome for others (such as my workflow or interests required). For example, I've figured out how to add volume control to my rc.lua file, and I installed the ranger file manager. But because I don't know what my experience might be on a day-to-day basis, I can't move over to the WM entirely (say, with a brand-new netinst).

All this leads to my question:What are the things that make you a (relatively) fully-fleshed-out desktop environment? What are the general things I should be installing/setting up to get a DE experience without having to install one like Gnome or KDE and using everything provided out of the box?

  • Have a look at pop-shell gnome extension. Tiling inside gnome
    – mrjayviper
    Dec 10, 2020 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


I use a pretty minimal i3 install.

The only things I've had to add are:

  • dmenu to launch applications,
  • i3status for a status bar in the bottom.
  • nm-applet for networking from the status bar
  • Commands in a config file to map XF86Audio* keys to pactl actions.

The other things that DEs give you are default applications for most desktop uses: browser, email client, text editor, file manager, photo viewer. If you find you are missing a PDF viewer, just install one.

This setup has worked for me for over a year and I don't feel like I'm missing too much. If I ever want a GUI for something (like pavucontrol for audio-devices or spectacle for screenshots) then I just run that specific thing from dmenu.

Anything outside of that is probably opinion-based.

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