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Author Topic: Windowmanagers.
drunkennewfiemidget
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Icon 1 posted April 27, 2006 19:28      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm the kind of person that feels the need to change his windowmanager every now and again. Usually, I find myself running back to the same one at some point.

In my time, I've extensively used:
  • enlightenment
  • xfce
  • windowmaker
  • gnome
  • kde

I've also at least a little used:
  • blackbox
  • sawfish
  • icewm
  • fvwm
  • Others I'm probably forgetting.

(Yes, I realise that I've mixed terminology in gnome, kdm, and xfce, but you know what I mean. Replace them with their respective window managers if it bothers you. [Wink] )

The most recent one I'd been using was xfce.

It annoyed me recently when it decided to stop starting up correctly. It would just sit there.

So I began my hunt for a new wm -- one might argue I should have just diagnosed the problem with xfce and went on with my life, but things like this are usually how I learn about new things.

I decided I'd give fvwm a real shot.

And by a real shot, I mean actually read the docs and configure it. In the past, I'd just played with some of the out-of-the-box configs, and then gave up on it, because I was too lazy to really configure it.

Holy crap.

FVWM is like writing your own window manager, but without having to actually write any code. You can make just about any program/window/binding/whatever behave exactly as you expect. I have pretty much all of the features of all of the things I liked about my old window managers available to me in my new window manager. It just took some time to properly configure.

So, if you're a *nix user, and you're looking for a new wm, give fvwm a try. With the right config, it will work *exactly* as you want it to, and its fast as all hell:

code:
dnm  3451  0.3  0.2   6552  2924 ?        S    20:39   0:18          \_ /usr/bin/fvwm2 -s

I don't know about you, but I've never seen a wm use such a small footprint (and be actually useful) in my lifetime.
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jordanv
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Icon 1 posted April 27, 2006 23:04      Profile for jordanv     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I never got around to using FVWM but I have tried all the other ones.

I remember the day XFCE decided that it would change all of its configurations to make every screen yellow.

Just yellow.

On that day I reinstalled windows.

As an aside, has Enlightment version 17 arrived? Or is it expected right after Duke Nukem Forever?

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quantumfluff
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Icon 1 posted April 28, 2006 20:01      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I still use mwm with the virtual desktop enhancements I wrote for it (in another galaxy, long long ago).
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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted April 28, 2006 20:40      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm partial to Window Maker...or KDE. Don't kill me about the latter, but I happen to like Kicker, Konsole, and the ever lovely Kate.

Me thinks you should try ratpoison. [Wink]

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GameMaster
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Icon 1 posted April 29, 2006 01:12      Profile for GameMaster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I use KDE on my home machine,
icewm on the Uni's unix servers
Gnome on IEEE-Computer Society's Linux boxen
and Blackbox on my Knoppix disks.

I have 2 versions of Knoppix remasterings going on at the moment.
1.) For inclusion on the work's UBCD, to help diagnose problems in the field. Any idea as to useful software packages would be apreciated.
Especially, if anyone knows of a Symantic Ghost Client for Linux.
Linux
2.) A personal version with mobile applications that I'd like to take with me.

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fs

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Icon 1 posted April 29, 2006 21:19      Profile for fs   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm a blackbox/fluxbox kinda girl. (Flux on the laptop, running OpenBSD) and Gnome on the desktop (runing Ubuntu) cause I'm too lazy to fight with it.

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spungo
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Icon 1 posted April 30, 2006 03:43      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Me likey Fluxbox mostly, but found wmii quite interesting. It's real spartan - allows you to line up your windows into measured boxes (great for the helplessly anal). It's real neat. Really. [Smile]

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quantumfluff
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Icon 1 posted April 30, 2006 20:28      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I really find it amusing that people care about window managers. I've been in the X windows software business since 1989, and one of the reasons Microsoft laughed as the unix vendors all fought each other was religious issues like window managers. Only the ultra-techies care. Users just want what is bundled with their machine. I actually think it's a bug that Fedora gives you a choice of Gnome or KDE. One group should just abandon all work, for the greater common good, and let everyone get on with building *APPLICATIONS* that do useful things.
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csk

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Icon 1 posted April 30, 2006 20:36      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by quantumfluff:
I really find it amusing that people care about window managers.

When your work desktop has 256Mb of RDRAM, and they aren't about to replace it (the RAM, or the desktop), you care what window manager you're running. Lightweight WMs have a niche, as do a variety of more full featured ones.

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GameMaster
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Icon 1 posted April 30, 2006 21:19      Profile for GameMaster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Flux, Fvwm, ice, twm, etc. Are useful for older computers, lowend computers, computers doing a lot of crunching that don't need pretty interfaces and for live CD distros.

GNOME is starting to get smart, and is starting to remove the rampant feature creep that it developed durring the race to beat KDE. The GTK is powerful thing. GNOME was more important when there were idealogical and licensing problems with KDEs reliance on the qt libraries. Now, the Gnome is about to regain importance with the versions of Gnome that will be comming, out of RedHat, which have OpenGL in the desktop (like OSX does).

KDE is a monolith that does almost anything anyone would ever want... Except a few odd features that Gnome has, and OpenGL on the desktop. It however, is also very bloated and can be sluggish on even the new machine if you turn on all it's bells and whistles.

Moreover, Linux is about user choice. There are many basic editors that come as part of the standard install in Fedora. Vim, gVim, Kate, emacs, nano, and a few others I can't be bothered to remember. Should we just give them one editor also? Which? (watch out for the religous war about editors) Granted, if they are comming from Windows, then they'll want something that works like notepad -- unless they are also trying to replace Visual Studio, in which case it'd be XEmacs.

I really don't see a huge lack of applications in Linux; the problem I see that to the general Windows user finding applications that scratch that one itch is difficult. There are a lot of packages, and new Linux users don't have a clear place to look (to a newbie -- granted that each distro has their own package manager and there is Freshmeat and Sourceforge, but writing a single document about installing software would require a bunch of different clauses).

I think linux is starting to take a larger foothold in desktops than most people give it credit. IEEE-Computer Society has been offering Linux Install seminars (charging for the media as a fundrasier (we do put quite a bit of time into burning and putting together the seminar talks and such) for a few semesters and our turn outs have been larger than I imagined they'd be. Granted that most of the people are in technical fields (engineering and computer science), but it's still a suprizing number.

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drunkennewfiemidget
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Icon 1 posted May 01, 2006 04:47      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by quantumfluff:
I really find it amusing that people care about window managers. I've been in the X windows software business since 1989, and one of the reasons Microsoft laughed as the unix vendors all fought each other was religious issues like window managers. Only the ultra-techies care. Users just want what is bundled with their machine. I actually think it's a bug that Fedora gives you a choice of Gnome or KDE. One group should just abandon all work, for the greater common good, and let everyone get on with building *APPLICATIONS* that do useful things.

That's like saying we should all drive Ford Focuses (focii?) so we can get back to caring about where we're driving instead of how we're getting there.
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quantumfluff
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Icon 1 posted May 01, 2006 06:13      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No, it's different. No one buys a computer for the window manager. It just's an incidental part of the experience on your way to getting something useful done. The best ones should not even seem like they are there.

The other part of my point was that religious wars flamed about wm's in the early days of X, while Microsoft and Apple produced software with no choice of wm, and no one cared. It was only the Unix vendors who fought a battle, and it was one of their many diversions from doing great things. If linux is ever to be widely adopted beyond a techie fringe, some variation will have to die out so there is a baseline standard that the masses will get used to. It's not the world I would want, it's the world of business

Of course, for those above who mentioned severe hardware constraints, WM choice might matter, but that's not a mainstream problem.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted May 01, 2006 07:03      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think that if the QT licensing issue didn't exist, or at the very least, didn't produce rabid opposition on the part of /.ers, KDE would have taken over the Linux desktop by now. Instead, the Gnome people came along, and unleashed their garbage on us... and screamed superiority on the grounds of ideals. I'm sorry, but I really dislike Gnome, and hate the leadership of it. KDE gives you *choice,* whereas Gnome give you whatever the Gnome leads feel is best. That means a piss poor spatial navigation system, a menu at the top of the screen that is pointless, and file choosers that are abysmal. KDE certainly isn't perfect, and possibly offers a few too many configuration choices - but that probably would have been resolved if there wasn't so much fighting between the 2 camps. Back in the v1 days, I did use Gnome instead of KDE, because KDE1 was quite a bit unpleasant to use...but KDE2 really became very nice to use. Gnome stagnated, and then decided to rip out every last bit of usability in v2 in the interest of 'simplicity.'

Ergo, I've more or less become desktop-agnostic, and just pick the best apps, and run them on any WM/DE. I use Gaim for IM, Firefox for Web, aterm+screen for terminal, with irssi, mutt, SSH, and vim for everyday use, Grip for Oggs, and Konqueror when I need GUI file management that Just Works. I love Konqueror's image gallery generator - that saved my bacon the other day. Also, I've found K3b to be a pretty great burning app.

Alas, my Linux boxen are dying, so I've been mostly using Macs @home lately. [Razz]

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quantumfluff
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Icon 1 posted May 01, 2006 20:22      Profile for quantumfluff     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For all it's worth. We are getting more Qt consulting contracts than we can handle. No one cares a lick about GTK. In all that mess, none of our customers even mention the window manager. They all intend to deploy Qt apps on windows, mac and maybe linux. The environment is just a detail.
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GameMaster
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Icon 1 posted May 02, 2006 00:31      Profile for GameMaster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
GNOME will be given second life by Fedora. FC5 has OpenGL support on the desktop, which will speed things up if it's turned on on a card that supports it (with drivers that support it). That said, I use KDE.

Most often used programes (daily basis):
FireFox
Thunderbird
xmms
xine
gaim
Konsole (transparent, fullscreen on the second, always open, behind XMMS, xine and GAIM)
kgpg
emacs

While gaim uses the GTK, everything (except Konsole -- which there are million substitutes for including good old xterm or uxterm) can run under Gnome if I wanted without any problem.

If the OpenGL support doesn't make it into KDE soon, I might switch...

Oh, and DMan, like KDE the top menu can be turned off. The only reason it was added in both KDE and Gnome was because they were (for a while) trying to include every feature that every person liked about Windows and Crystal.


No, it's different. No one buys a computer for the window manager.

No one buys a car for seat warmers either.

It just's an incidental part of the experience on your way to getting something useful done. The best ones should not even seem like they are there.

None seem like they aren't there. Windows frustrates the heck out of me, and I'm always very aware that Crystal is there in a Mac (the buttons are on the wrong side...) Windowmanagers are about useability issues. If someone learns a system, that's what they know, and few are apt to change even if the new sytem is more effiecent... Because it feels ineffecient while you're retraining yourself to working under the new system. No one complained about the Windows interface, because they didn't know there was a choice.

The other part of my point was that religious wars flamed about wm's in the early days of X, while Microsoft and Apple produced software with no choice of wm, and no one cared.

No one argued about it, but people always griped, or thought to them selves that "this should be better". I could list my million gripes about Windows' windowing enviroment, but it'd be paramount to a religous war.

It was only the Unix vendors who fought a battle, and it was one of their many diversions from doing great things. If linux is ever to be widely adopted beyond a techie fringe, some variation will have to die out so there is a baseline standard that the masses will get used to. It's not the world I would want, it's the world of business.

Linux has a large hold in servers, and as far as "Linux on the desktop" that's only a goal of zelotry and companies making Linux packages (media and support). More and more people are using linux on the desktop, but those numbers are near impossible to track. There is no centeral company to get linux from, so there is no good way to count the number of installs (which isn't true Windows, they know everytime a product is reigistered and/or activated -- they need to, or they'd be broke).

Of course, for those above who mentioned severe hardware constraints, WM choice might matter, but that's not a mainstream problem.

Most people have a machine that is capable of running KDE or GNOME, your right. But, how many remasterings of Knoppix are there. Knoppix disks are becoming more and more wide spread as system tool disks and personalized versions of mobile linux... Granted that it's in the techies, but I think it'll become more popular with the falling price of USB flash drives (with larger and larger capacities). Look at the Gumstick... I can see a time in my life time (though I'll probably be rather old) where everyone is carring arround a gumstick and instead of computer labs there are monitor/keyboard stations, and laptops that are just interfaces to these small and (then) powerfull machines. To start out with, the wm's will have to be small, but as flash becomes less expensive...

Maybe it's pie in the sky -- a technology that we will be able to do, but won't go for. Flying car or Virtual Reality stuff. Then again, I've always thought wareables will catch on when they start looking more attractive than MIT's latest.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted May 02, 2006 06:22      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
GM: Two quirks in your post.
w.r.t. Top menu: s/KDE/Gnome/ -- KDE hasn't had a top menu since 1.x, IIRC.

For your entire post, AFAICT: s/Crystal/Aqua/g
(Aqua is the OS X GUI - Crystal is a KDE theme from 2.x.)

Don't get me started about button order...

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drunkennewfiemidget
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Icon 1 posted May 02, 2006 07:16      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The point I was making when I started this thread, was that with the right amount of configuration, you can make fvwm do pretty much everything every other window manager can do, (including putting what buttons you want in whatever order you want them) if you're willing to take the time to configure them -- and with a much smaller footprint.
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GameMaster
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Icon 1 posted May 02, 2006 14:42      Profile for GameMaster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
DMAN,
With regard to the top menu, both still have it, and both can still turn it on or off:
KDE 3.5.1
Control Center -> Desktop -> Behavior
There is a radio button selection:
None
Desktop Menubar
Current Application's Menu Bar (MAC OS-style)

Your right I did mean Aqua...

DNF,
We know what you were saying, we just took this in a whole new direction.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted May 02, 2006 16:34      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
GM: I never said the option didn't exist in KDE...but I'm certain it's off by default. I would have screamed long ago if that pointless menu was around.

OTOH, I just saw CDE on HP-UX today...that was *fugly.*

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GameMaster
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Icon 1 posted May 03, 2006 03:36      Profile for GameMaster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You made it sound like it was gone for good from KDE, but it's still in the software. I think if it's on or off by default is distro's (or package maintainer's) settings, not the window manger developer's -- then again, I suppose the developers are most likely the people packaging it for most of the distros.

On HP-Unix and Solaris, I've generally seen twm and ice running as basic a gui as they can. With both enviroments, both window-managers looked very ... utilitarian and no-frills. I know twm can be more powerful, but configuation is supposed to take a bit of effort.

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spungo
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Icon 1 posted May 03, 2006 05:15      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
OTOH, I just saw CDE on HP-UX today...that was *fugly.*

I don't know, dude - even after you've tweaked it to your liking? I miss CDE - I freakin' loved it. It sends me back to yester year... *sob*. I so wish it was easier getting it for linux (without a pile of hassle + dough). It may have been clunky, but it had class, dude. I used to lick the screen I loved it so much. [Wink]

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DoctorWho

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Icon 1 posted May 03, 2006 16:07      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by quantumfluff:
No, it's different. No one buys a computer for the window manager. It just's an incidental part of the experience on your way to getting something useful done. The best ones should not even seem like they are there.

The other part of my point was that religious wars flamed about wm's in the early days of X, while Microsoft and Apple produced software with no choice of wm, and no one cared. It was only the Unix vendors who fought a battle, and it was one of their many diversions from doing great things. If linux is ever to be widely adopted beyond a techie fringe, some variation will have to die out so there is a baseline standard that the masses will get used to. It's not the world I would want, it's the world of business

Of course, for those above who mentioned severe hardware constraints, WM choice might matter, but that's not a mainstream problem.

I don't know about other users, but I want to get as much performance out of my interface to my computer as I can. After all, the GUI / windows manager / visual interface is how you interface with your hardware, so it is just as important, probably even more so, to work with an interface you are comfortable with. That is the beauty of linux, if you don't like KDE, then you can try Gnome, enlightenment or whatever until you find one you like. It's like setting all of the controls and seat position in your car. I can't fit in my car with my wife's seat setting and she can't reach the pedals with mine.

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uilleann
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Icon 1 posted May 07, 2006 11:08            Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
With regards to a top menu in GNOME (I had it switched on in KDE) I presume you're referring to the problem physically and not conceptually? I've read accounts of how slow in-window menu bars are for novice users, and the Fitt's advantage of a top menu bar, but having used both now extensively I'm pretty ambivalent to the matter, and can switch from my PC to my Mac and not bat an eyelid. (However, it does take getting used to, as on the PC, with non-maximised windows I would always use the highest menu bar I could see, even if it belonged to the window behind! And ScanWizard for the Mac -- a Photoshop plugin -- has its own localised menu bar, which I keep missing).

The problem with a top menu in X11 is that it requires co-operation from the part of the widget set. Xterm and X-Emacs for example would never co-operate, I have no idea what widget set they used but it sure wasn't what KDE was using. Other software could be likewise unco-operative, such as Netscape 4.7 (yeah going back a bit now! =) Otherwise, I don't see why it should be so accursed, as it has some logic. Another bonus is that it remains present and active when dialog boxes are open, giving ordinary users a chance to select from the Edit menu within a dialog! (Never forget that in choosing an interface, we need to factor in non-geeks) I also appreciate its compactness, as older Macs will illustrate that you can wrap up a lot of systmem functionality in a single bar. (Just leaves you with title bars, but if you have fvwm you can switch those off entirely [Wink] I know someone who thinks that title bars are a complete waste of space!)

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Icon 1 posted May 07, 2006 11:31      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My complaint about top menus in Linux stems from the fact that most of the ones I've seen do not correctly sync (read: not at all) with the application and its toolkit. This leaves you with a thoroughly useless top menu - one specific to the DE...while the application still has an in-window menu. The only reason Gnome does this is because they have an Apple-fetish, and they think the only way to design a GUI is to copy the Apple HIG, albeit poorly.

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uilleann
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Icon 1 posted May 07, 2006 12:04            Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
KDE had the same problem...
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