Get chilled!

Adding new Applications

You can install new apps as you know it already using the graphical Synaptic package manager or as you are an experienced space traveler, you probably prefer the command line.

After installation of, let's say, Thunderbird, you might have noticed that it does not appear in the menu directly.

This is because the menu is generated dynamically on every login, using a little helper called xdgmenumaker.

It does a wonderful job, looking at all that .desktop files and the related icons of your preferred icon theme and puts it all together into a file called ~/.icewm/menu

Autostart during login is done via a little script which can be found at ~/.icewm/startup - feel free to take a look at it e.g. using cat ~/.icewm/startup

You will see a line which looks something like this:

xdgmenumaker -s 24 -n -f icewm -i > ~/.icewm/menu &

You can just copy and paste it any time after a software installation and your menu will get updated immediately.

Make it your own

Moonlight comes with a well-selected and hand-crafted design.

If you are happy with it, fine. But then you are missing all the fun because you can completely customize the look of your system.

There are several different aspects which can be adjusted. Let's start with the easy ones:

IceWM Themes

The Windowmanager is the engine that is responsible for drawing all the applications on your screen. A panel and a window decoration are it's main elements. There are thousands of designs available for IceWM which can be found e.g. on Just download the one you like and extract the theme to ~/.icewm/themes. Afterward, choose Settings / Themes in the main menu and select one of your choice.


One of the first things most astronauts do is to put a nice poster on the wall of their starship. For that purpose, we ship a small helper called Nitrogen, which can be found in the Accessories menu. It is a bit tricky at first, but once you know it, you will find it very useful (we hope). It works with directories where it looks for images to set as a wallpaper. You have to add one to make it work within the Application by choosing Preferences and clicking on + Add. A good choice could be to create a new subfolder called Wallpapers in your Pictures folder to store all your collected items, before. A nice place to look for wallpapers is Deviantart.

Nitrogen can also display a random wallpaper from your collection every time you login:

nitrogen --set-zoom-fill --random /home/astronaut/Pictures/Wallpapers --save

Just adjust the path to your collection and after a re-login you are ready to go.

GTK Theme

GTK is the Toolkit which most of the included applications use. Another one is Qt, which will be explained later.

To adjust the toolkit and the icons which should be used, start Settings / Customize Look and Feel, which we have borrowed from SpaceFun, our main Spin which ships the LXDE desktop environment. Not all aspects might work on IceWM, but you can choose the Widget and Icon Theme. We ship already a few widget themes, but you can install more using your package manager, e.g.: blackbird-gtk-theme, bluebird-gtk-theme, arc-theme, darkfire-gtk-theme, just to name a few.

A result could look like this:


It is called Qt, but pronounced like cute, is a fantastic toolkit. The easiest way to make it look similar to all your other apps is to choose gtk2 within the Style section in Settings / Qt5 Settings. More modern Apps use Qt6 and a similar app can be found in the same menu, called Qt6 Settings. There, the Style element is called qt6gtk2. Like this, all your Qt apps will look like the Widget you have configured in the Customize Look and Feel app.


Fonts settings are distributed throughout the system and possibly the hardest thing to configure. Customize Look and Feel sets the Fonts for GTK apps, Qt5- and Qt6 Settings for Qt. And IceWM has, of course, it's on text-based configuration. The fonts can either be defined within the ~/.icewm/preferences file or within the theme of your choice, in a file called default.theme (e.g ~/.icewm/themes/Moonlight/default.theme).

Once you are finished with all of your customizations, please share the results with your fellow astronauts.

Screen Resolution

The screen resolution can easily be changed using SettingsARandR. Right-Click on the monitor, choose the resolution you like, and hit Apply.

Note that the wallpaper might look a bit distorted after changing the resolution on the fly. Just run nitrogen --restore on the command line or open the Nitrogen GUI, select your wallpaper and hit Apply.

You can also save your layout, but to apply it on login, additional work is required.

Once you have saved your preferred layout, a file is created called like ~/.screenlayout/, depending on how you have named it and the location you have chosen to save it to.

You can take a look at it with cat:

cat ~/.screenlayout/

To launch the script on login, add it to your ~/.icewm/startup script, directly after #!/bin/bash

Disable Workspaces

Most Windowmanagers and Desktop Environments on Linux offer a so-called Workspaces functionality. It provides virtual desktops, so you can e.g. place all your Internet apps on one workspace and the rest on another. You can switch between workspaces by clicking the numbers in the taskbar.

If you don't need this functionality, it can be disabled as follows. Open a terminal and paste the following script as one (not line-by-line):

cat <<EOF >> ~/.icewm/preferences
WorkspaceNames=" 1 "

Not restart IceWM by opening the menu and clicking on Logout / Restart IceWM. You will notice that the little numbers in the Taskbar, representing the workspaces, have disappeared.

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