Window Mangers :: What's Your Favorite & Why

I was recently ask why I seem to support JWM and if I use it and if not what do I use and why.

I have posted many times about my decision to add and now default to JWM. It is familiar, it is small in pyhsical size, runtime, and library dependencies. It is also much more standards compilant.

Fluxbox in DSL is quite old v0.14 and I have had many development issues supporting it.

Yet, I don't use either one. Why?

I don't like taskbars and pagers that take up space and/or additional processes. Screen real estate is precious.

I don't like to have to move a window so that it is not overlapping another one. As you can imagine, I use xterms and vi for all my coding.  I don't like tiling window managers either. I guess I feel boxed in.

I don't like menu systems that require some formal structure, be it xml, or [](){}.

I don't like having to restart the window manager to re-read the menu. I don't like flashing screens resulting from a restart.

I once hailed evilwm as my favorite. But no longer, a mouse  or other poiting device is now really part of computing. I try many window managers and change quite frequently. But there is one that I keep comming back to, flwm.

flwm uses fltk, so it looks consistent with our Lua/Fltk programs. I also like the fact then it tries to open windows so they don't overlap, a real benefit not to have to move a new window. Almost like having a tiling window manager but better for me.  I have it compiled with different screen buttons than the default. I like it because it maximizes screen real estate. No task bars no pagers taking up screen space.  I like the right click menu, taskbar, pager all combined. I like to vertically maximimze terms. I like it that its menu is read dynamically and its menu structure is nothing more than a directory of symlinks. So simple. Sub-menus are just more directories. No need to restart the wm to re-read a changed menu item.

The only negative for flwm is aterm's transparency is hard to read the title, but then I turn off transparency because of my poor vision.

I am always impressed when I switch back to flwm that my browser window can be bigger because I don't have taskbars and pagers

With Linux there are a plethora of window managers to try.
So don't attack my choice, but feel free to post your choice and why.

Perhaps some users will venture out and try other window managers and may even like the adventure and soon be posting here.

I don't think the screen real estate issue is so bad in jwm, but I set it up pretty much like a tiling wm and reduced my tray to 20 pixels (no icons, no problem) as well as removing title bars in maximized apps. It does have its quirks (root keybinding clobbers everything) and as you noted (restart to get new menu). As far as the XML issue, I don't see that as a bad thing. I haven't looked to see what murgalua can do with XML, but maybe there's some way to overlap functions and make (or just override) jwm's menuing behave better so it needn't be restarted when changed.

In addition to the two in the base, I currently have the following window managers installed:

Two of those are pretty much the same: sithwm adds a few modifications like menuing to evilwm. I don't care much for either one because the way I want them to work requires more coaxing than it takes for other window managers like larswm, ratpoison, or ion. I prefer some amount of tiling or automatic placement (such as my jwm modifications) to random ad hoc placement of various-sized windows.

I switched back to ratpoison on my desktop yesterday afternoon. It's also my default on my laptop. I know it's not for everyone because it lacks a menu, because it opens everything to maximized, lacks eye candy, and so on. Its keybindings are neutral and familiar to those who use screen, and can be reassigned for convenience (my escape is ctrl-z instead of ctrl-t). I don't need a menu; the execute sequence of "ctrl-z !" lets me page through my command history and I've bound keybindings to launch apps and take care of various tasks (I also have the menus I did for mouseless operation in jwm that associate content in specific directories with appropriate apps). Most of my browsing is in either opera or elinks, and both are exceptionally keyboard-friendly (so is firefox with conkeror, but opera's default bindings are pretty easy to learn); sylpheed works very well with keyboard. I use as many console apps as I can and use screen so each of those doesn't require a separate aterm instance.

EDIT: Like I wrote earlier, it's not for everyone.

Seems I'm a minority here, as all my laptops can do at least 800x600 and my two external screens are 17"..
So I don't really lack screen estate. I've experimented with a lot of wm's, and I have multiple favorites.

On better machines, it's Xfce. It's still light, though not as light as Jwm & guys, has great configurability, OK keybindings, and looks good (yeah, I like my eye candy!)
It uses standards, and it's menu uses one too. The desktop entries are in .desktop files, and it doesn't need a restart for new apps to appear in the menu.

I haven't yet had time to try Enlightenment, but it seems great.

Then there's fluxbox. Looks cool too, and has great functionality.

And then my personal all-time favorite desktop environment: Bash! I like to work in a high-resolution console. It's easy to read, and works way faster than anything in X. Leaves lot more ram to apps too. And has absolutely no taskbars ;)

So, next I will have to mess with Jwm, due to the fact it's become the default :)

It's not simply about resolution and size but about things that start to add up without having any utility or benefit, or even things that are redundant. For example, say you want to stack four windows with equal geometry in 800x600 on your desktop. Without any window decorations or borders, you would get four windows that were 200x150. Add 24pixel title bars, you just removed 2x24x800 pixels just for the title bar decorations. Then 5 pixel borders around everything. If you have a taskbar, you lose whatever heightxwidth that is -- 24x800, reducing the windows to 200x138. So your 200x150 (really 138) boxes don't have nearly as much room for what you want to do in them. Yes, you can cascade or overlap windows and it's less of an issue. But you're still using up more space than you need.

What do the window titles add if you also have a task bar showing what's up and running? Title bars are redundant to task bars. That's why I set up my jwmrc to remove titles (and borders) from terminals and apps I run maximized (which is nearly everything). I can still navigate through those windows with alt-tab or with a mouse but my only loss in screen real estate is that 20x800 tray on the top (I ended up switching positions htop and tail as well as moving the dock back to the right as I wrote I would).

Good tips on JWM options, Lucky13.

I quite like the borderless windows and controlling them via keyboard or taskbar. That setup does save screen real estate and actually helps me because of my severe ptosis. Less eye movement for controlling windows. It almost gives a MacIntosh like behaviour.

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