Avant Window Navigator

For a long while there I didn’t want to check out the Avant Window Navigator (AWN) because I was shunning Compiz.  But now that I’m back on the Compiz (and since Metacity should have compositing “soon” anyway) I decided to give a shot when it was featured in Linux Format Magazine Issue 112.  I found the AWN packages in Fedora although for AWN only AWN-extras comes up.  You need to search avant-window-manager to get the main package.  It doesn’t matter since AWN-extras brings in AWN in the dependencies.  Here’s how my desktop looks before that:

Pretty plain looking and I currently have the default Fedora background.  The article reccomended switching to the Glossy Gnome theme, but I’m pretty happy with Nodoka.  So here’s what it looks like with AWN in my fourth desktop:

And here it is a little closer up:

The left section is launchers, the middle section is what I happen to have open in the current Window and the third section is filled with applets. The effects are really neat and impossible to show in a screenshot.  The icons can bounce when you pass over them, magnify like OS X, turn in circles, or have a spotlight.  The bar shrinks and grows depending upon how many icons it needs to display.

In this second screenshot, you can see what it looks like with my brother chatting with me via Pidgin.  The icon for his window is represented by his buddy icon.

So how do I feel about AWN?  On the one hand, it certainly looks neat.  Sure, it’s aping OS X as opposed to coming up with something completely original, but it’s still fun to use.  At least for a little while after you install it you’ll probably find yourself mousing over all the icons to make them bounce over and over again.  But there are a few little things that need work.  For example, it’s still has some glitches.  I can’t have a workspace switcher applet because the simple workplace switcher it acts strangely and the shiny switcher is way too big.  The AWN window is a bit slow to update (probably due to my graphics card being JUST good enough).  Also, when someone IMs me, it DOES put their icon in the AWN if you’re in another workspace, but it doesn’t keep “flashing” it to get your attention like it would with the normal Gnome taskbar.  I’m going to keep it on my desktop for a few days and if I decide to remove it, I’ll mention it briefly here in the blog.  Otherwise you can assume that all my concerns were ameliorated and I love it.

3 responses to “Avant Window Navigator”

  1. Metacity has compositing already, and has for a while– just most distros ship with it turned off. You can turn it on with gconf, or “metacity –composite –replace” in newer builds.