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logo -

Abstract - last modified 2020-05-05

ot-boomer helps to get back some better differentiation of windows and UI elements at the cinnamon desktop of linux mint 19.3 or LMDE 4.

Use at your own risk - you have to read and accept the disclaimer

This is an alpha-version still being in development and intended only for people willing to do some testing and returning feedback. The beta-version is expected to be available around end of May 2020.


There are several factors affecting the visual distinctness of ui-elements - which ot-boomer does address:


ot-boomer is meant to be used with a cinnamon DE of linux mint 19.3 or LMDE4 (based on ubuntu or debian respectively) only. Accordingly does ot-boomer test on startup the used desktop environment and denies running, if not being used at an expected setup.

There is no need to install or run any additional software to use the modifications afterwards, as ot-boomer does "only" adjust system-settings (which are not accessible using the regular gui-tools).

Although the panel-setting are reachable using the regular cinnamon gui, ot-boomer does offer related options in a more compact way (almost only to have related settings in one place).

On first run ot-boomer will save a copy of current system-values at ot-boomer-original.config Besides the binary version an additional human readable file ot-boomer-original.dump is created (for information purposes).

ot-boomer-original.config can be used to restore the original values via the command line if ever needed. Details about available command line options can be found at: command line options

run ot-boomer

To run ot-boomer without keeping a permanent version of it, just use:

python3 <(wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py -O - 2>/dev/null)

If you prefer, to keep a copy of ot-boomer use:

mkdir ~/bin
cd ~/bin
wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py --backups=1
chmod +x ot-boomer.py

Note: Many linux distributions will integrate ~/bin to your $PATH environment variable (on the next login/reboot).

Basic steps

To adjust most relevant settings, do :

Gui setup

Add orcus themes

As most available themes make it hard to spot the active window and window borders, ot-boomer does offer optional frame-window themes for download, which visually highlight the active window and draw a better visible window border.

To integrate with your preferred light- or dark-mode setup, the themes are available in three basic types.

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The offered themes support scaling of the minimize-, maximize- and close-buttons based on the titelbar font size (which most other themes do not support at all, or only in an unpleasant way).

You can use ot-boomer to download and add additional orcus metacity window frame themes. At the moment there are 3 basic types of themes offered, coming in 2 flavors (with some larger or smaller gap at the window frame icons):

orcus-2-* themes are using smaller button sizes

  • orcus-2-black
  • orcus-2-dark
  • orcus-2-light

orcus-3-* themes are using larger button sizes

  • orcus-3-black
  • orcus-3-dark
  • orcus-3-light

Window frame setup

logo - [click to enlarge]

[click to enlarge]

Preferred theme

The shown window frame themes are filtered by ot-boomer to the ones, where implicit scaling of the minimize/maximize/close-buttons is supported.

The default linux-mint themes are cleanly detected, where only Mint-X does support a scalable window frame theme.

The general detection of "scaling" themes is far from being perfect, as there exist sadly multiple types/versions of theme-definitions. So - if you did download a theme - you might turn off the filter, to be able to select it for testing anyways.

(1) To select a new window frame theme, you just need to select the according row.

Titlebar font size

(2) If you are using a scalable window frame theme, selecting a different (larger) font-size, does affect the size of the titelbar and the size of the minimize/maximize/close-buttons.

Most "modern" flat themes - like Mint-Y - use a fixed value for the minimize/maximize/close-buttons and do not make use of a larger titlebar.

Sizing area

With higher resolutions it might be hard to catch the window frame borders for resizing windows.

(3) To address this, ot-boomer does allow to use adjust (increase) the resizable area , to make it easier to "catch" a window-borders or -corners for resizing.

Panels layout

The panels options used/described here can be reached using the regular gui-tool of cinnamon too. The options are added to ot-boomer to have them in one place. The main "advantages" editing the options this way are:

  • bypass some limiting values of the regular gui
  • showing layout options of all sections of multiple panels at the same time
logo - [click to enlarge]

[click to enlarge]

panel height

The shown icon- and text-sizes at the panel are determined by the used panel-heights and current values being used for the different item-types.

Note: There exist some "special" values, which turn on automatic adjustment of according items: sadly the related options are not handled consistently for all available element - just read on.

(1) Following values (value-ranges) affect the panel height

  • 0 (zero): auto-adjust panel-height to screen-resolution
  • 1 to 19 are ignored - resulting in using 0 (dconf-limit)
  • 20 to screen height - height in pixel (do NOT try to use crazy large values like the actual screen-height)

colored icon size

(a), (b), (c) determine the size of the colored icons at the panel. The current panel height does either directly determine the sizes (auto-adjust) or limits the maximum usable value:

  • -1 (negative 1): auto-adjust to the current panel-height without any gap around the icons
  • 0 (zero): auto-adjust to the current panel-height leaving a gap around the icons
  • 1 to panel-height: icon-size in pixel
  • > panel-height: will be capped to the panel-height

Note: With newer mint-versions the "grouped window-list" applet is used, which does reside at a). If you are using an older mint-version or replace the "grouped window list" applet with it's predecessor "window list applet" area b) of the panel will be used instead.

Note: Area c) does cover the colored tray panel icons only - read below for the symbolic (black and white style) icons.

symbolic icon size

(3) The symbolic icon sizes affect the size of the panel tray icons (the black and white ones). There is no auto-adjust supported:

  • 0 (zero): auto-adjust - use the predefined value of the currently select theme (or 10 pixel if missing there)
  • 1 to 9: ignored by dconf - the minimum 10 pixel height is used instead
  • 10 to 50: icon-size in pixel without applying a gap (limited by the current panel-height)
  • >50: will be ignored by dconf and limited by the current panel-height or a maximum value of 50

panel text size

(4) At newer mint-versions (using the "grouped window list" applet) there will normally only be the calendar (date/time) text visible at the right-section of the panel. Using an older mint-version or using the predecessor "window list" applet does instead show current running applications at the center part of the panel b).

Using a custom icon for the main menu does additionally offer to add a static text next to it, where values for c) apply accordingly.

For panel text size the available value (ranges) are:

  • 0 to 9: will be ignored by dconf and the minimum text-size of 10 pixel is used instead
  • 0 to 9: will be ignored by dconf and the minimum text-size of 10 pixel is used instead
  • 10 to 50: icon-size in pixel / limited by the current panel-height, without applying a gap
  • >50: will be ignored by dconf and limited by the current panel-height or a maximum value of 50

With the colored icons (most of the icons being there) - the values 0 and -1 have a special meaning, where 0 does mean: use optimal size according current panel height, and -1 does mean: use optimal size according to icon (which will often be a bit larger). Using tiny icon sizes like 1 pixel is NOT prohibited, so take care not to use some too small value or your icons will almost vanish this way. The maximum icon size is additionally limited by the panel-size (allowing to use some insane values like 300 pixel panel height/ icon size if you like too). The default value for the right column icons (the ones related to the panel-tray but not being symbolic icons) is 28 pixel. The default value for the left and center columns is 0.

command line options

To get a list of the available command line options of ot-boomer just run:

python3 <(wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py -O - ) --help

Which will output a current version information and a summary of available options, like this:

demo@lmde-4-cinnamon-64bit-beta:~$ python3 <(wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py -O - 2>/dev/null) --help
ot-boomer (free) alpha V. 001#76 - 2020-05-12
sha256sum: 8785dd5e4f9db2e8975330b10a08207bdfa65c22a9533344a3e2ff332f86c913

about     : Adjust cinnamon gui-options for people with visual limitations.

license   : This software is free for private and non-commercial use only.
Commercial use of this software is prohibited and requires a licensed version.

disclaimer: Use on your own risk - there is no guaranty given, that using
this software does work for the intended purpose, or using this software would
not affect your installed system in some negative way.

--help             : display (this) command line help and quit

--accept-disclaimer: bypass disclaimer dialog and run application

--no-window        : to be used with --load or --reset to bypass the
                     main configuration window = just load settings
                     and terminate afterwards

--dl-theme=<theme> : download latest version of an orcus metacity-theme
                     from orcus website to the current directory; basic
                     themes available are:
                     orcus-2-black orcus-2-dark orcus-2-light
                     orcus-3-black orcus-3-dark orcus-3-light

--add-theme=<file> : install metacity theme for visible window borders,
                     a scalable window title including used buttons,
                     distinctable active window and hover-feedback on
                     window frame-buttons
                     for light-themes you could use
                     orcus-2-light.tar.gz orcus-3-light.tar.gz
                     for dark-themes you could use
                     orcus-2-black.tar.gz orcus-2-dark.tar.gz
                     orcus-3-black.tar.gz orcus-3-dark.tar.gz

--dump             : show currently used dconf-values (nothing will be
                     modified) and quit

--save=<file>      : save current settings to the given file

--load=<file>      : load settings from given file and apply them

--restore          : restore the original values of the user setup as
                     being backup'ed on the very first run

--reset            : reset settings to the default-values of a fresh
                     installed linux mint and apply them (all panels)

--set1             : use inbuilt defaults - slightly bigger items
--set2             : use inbuilt defaults - bigger items
--set3             : use inbuilt defaults - big items
--set4             : use inbuilt defaults - huge items

cli samples - common tasks

This sections covers typical use-cases for using ot-boomer from the command line interface (cli).

Skip the disclaimer-dialog and suppress the main-window, to just download a theme, apply a predefined set and add the theme afterwards (to make it the current one):

python3 <(wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py -O - ) \
--accept-disclaimer --no-window --dl-theme=orcus-3-dark --set2 --add-theme=orcus-3-dark.tar.gz

To save your current setup to a user-config:

python3 <(wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py -O - ) \
--accept-disclaimer --no-window --save=user.conf

Which can be reloaded later again:

python3 <(wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-boomer.py -O - ) \
--accept-disclaimer --no-window --load=user.conf

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