What's Your Favorite & Why

Forum: Window Mangers
Topic: What's Your Favorite & Why
started by: roberts

Posted by roberts on Dec. 28 2007,06:00
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.

Posted by lucky13 on Dec. 28 2007,13:17
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.
< http://lucky13linux.wordpress.com/2007/12/28/ratpoison-on-dsl/ >

Posted by curaga on Dec. 28 2007,15:54
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 freedesktop.org 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 :)

Posted by lucky13 on Dec. 28 2007,17:38
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).
< http://lucky13linux.wordpress.com/2007/12/26/this-old-computer/ >

Posted by roberts on Dec. 28 2007,18:50
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.

Posted by lucky13 on Dec. 28 2007,20:40
It almost gives a MacIntosh like behaviour.

I hadn't thought of it in those terms. I just didn't like giving up 48 pixels between title bar and task bar to see the same information twice.

*** EDIT: Since figuring out that it's the nextstacked binding that hogs whatever key mask is used, jwm is performing much better with keyboard control -- alt can be used in other jwm bindings (including next) as well as for applications again.

Posted by ^thehatsrule^ on Dec. 31 2007,03:37
I've always used and liked the *box style on all my computing systems... (yes, even on Windows)

It's highly customizable yet maintains itself to be lean.
I tend to work on medium-sized screens, and I prefer having a taskbar present (didn't like autohide, etc.)
I prefer certain features and also several dockable/slittable extras.

As witnessed by the plethora of choices, your wm is subject to your own tastes (and environment).
The meaning of being minimal and lean yet functional is not so much different IMO.

I suppose it's also worth mentioning that I'm not running on minimal memory specs, so I prefer to load a *box environment... over lighter choices (in terms of memory consumption).

Posted by mikshaw on Jan. 05 2008,14:24
I feel I might be repeating myself here, but at least it's on topic....

Fluxbox had been my favorite nearly from the time I first started tinkering with Linux (now a little over 6 years). Over the course of those years I played with many different window managers and desktop environments, some of which I liked a lot, but always went back to Fluxbox. It's relatively small, relatively fast, relatively simple, and quite stable and customizable.

However, what I was searching for in those other window managers was not what I thought. I thought I wanted something more flexible, more configurable, while being roughly equivalent in size and speed. What I discovered, though, was that I was spending so much time and effort customizing a window manager to behave exactly the way I wanted that I wasn't actually using it for the purpose of a window manager: simply to manage windows.

So, cut to last summer...
I had been testing wmii, and enjoying its [sadly complex] customizability, when its developer announced a smaller, faster, simpler fork called dwm. I fell in love with it instantly, and have been using it almost exclusively since. It was at that time that I realized that I don't want a window manager that I can tweak and play with. I just want something small, simple, and virtually unseen so that I can use X applications instead of a desktop environment.

The dwm window manager is virtually invisible. It has a status bar only and is controlled almost entirely with the keyboard. There is no menu and configuration apart from modifying one of the headers before compiling, so I don't give a second thought about how I can tweak it. It just shows me my apps and stays out of the way.

Posted by roberts on Jan. 05 2008,15:45
mikshaw, more info please.

Does it support floating windows or is it tiling?
If floating, does it have intel to try to place window with no overlaps.
No menu;  are you using icons or everything CLI?

Posted by jpeters on Jan. 06 2008,07:12
From the developer:


wmii never got finished because I listened to users, who proposed arbitrary ideas I considered useful. This resulted in an extreme CADT development model, which was a mistake. Thus the philosophy of dwm is simply to fit my needs (maybe yours as well). That's it.

· Because dwm is customized through editing its source code, it's pointless to make binary packages of it. This keeps its userbase small and elitist. No novices asking stupid questions.

Sounds like an idea for DSl  :D

Posted by mikshaw on Jan. 06 2008,13:17
Does it support floating windows or is it tiling?
It is tiling by default, but the behavior can be toggled and individual windows can be configured to automatically float. Any fixed-size window, such as murgalua apps without resizable(), will always float.

If floating, does it have intel to try to place window with no overlaps.
I honestly never noticed, but it seems to be pretty much the typical staggering and overlapping that you see in most other window managers. I have only a few multi-window apps set to float, such as mtpaint.

No menu;  are you using icons or everything CLI?
I hardly ever use icons unless it's just for a temporary change of screenery. I have several frequently used X applications set to launch from key combinations. I also use dmenu along with various scripts (bound to hotkeys) to create menus for other applications, reading documentation, managing uci installation, etc. So I actually do have a graphical menu, although it's not used frequently.

DWM is not what I'd consider user friendly in the commonly used mouse-driven sense of the term, and I don't recommend it to anyone unless they want to try something very unlike the typical modern desktop. It has its drawbacks, and is definitely not perfect (example: some transient windows can be very annoying when tiled), but I like it mainly for its size and speed, and for the fact that it stays mostly off the screen and off my mind. The status bar can also be toggled, and the 1-pixel window borders can be removed, so in that case it would take up 0% of the screen =o)

Posted by roberts on Jan. 24 2008,06:28
When you think about the current window managers and icons in DSL both 3.x and 4.x. The icons are on the left-had-side of the screen. Open any X application and it opens on the left-hand-side of the screen, thus covering up the icons. If the icons are arranged on the right-hand-side of the screen, there is less chance of them being covered, thus more readily available for drag-n-drop. Also, being right-handed seems like less mouse movement to use them.
Curious why the convention has been on the left?

Posted by curaga on Jan. 24 2008,08:13
It looks better to right-handed people?
Posted by lucky13 on Jan. 24 2008,12:17
Curious why the convention has been on the left?

Probably because we in the West read left-to-right so we're spatially-oriented toward that (and the rest of the world follows suit). I can only think of a few instances where others have tried to buck that trend. NeXT had icons on the right by default. But I think even Hebrew/Arabic versions of operating systems/desktops place icons L->R (or top down on the left) by default.

Posted by roberts on Jan. 24 2008,16:18
OK. I guess that would explain the wide task bars to prevent icons from being covered such as rox among others. But having the convention of icons on the left and opening an X app also on the left seems like a poor design. Easily accessible icons is desirable for drag-n-drop.
Posted by lucky13 on Jan. 24 2008,16:43
Easily accessible icons is desirable for drag-n-drop.

I agree, but look at how many drag-and-drop interfaces open application windows full-screen. Especially the early ones when monitors were neither the size nor resolution needed to open multiple views in one screen. A lot of the "common interface" stuff is still stuck in the '80s and '90s with a presumption that the desktop is primarily used only when nothing else is running -- and on only one desktop.

Posted by u2musicmike on Jan. 24 2008,17:09
I think my favorite so far is fluxbox but I really haven't tried many others.  What I like is the way the icon moves when single clicking to activate an app.  

I have been trying out 4.x with JWM and I have trouble with it.  The icon I dragged on the window will change color with a single click but I have to double click to get the app to run.

Posted by ^thehatsrule^ on Jan. 24 2008,17:24
Since we're talking about design, I'll bring up the subject of the location of the WM taskbar/toolbar.  Having the controls at the top of the screen is easier to reach, esp. if you access them a lot.  Thoughts?

What I like is the way the icon moves when single clicking to activate an app.  

I have been trying out 4.x with JWM and I have trouble with it.  The icon I dragged on the window will change color with a single click but I have to double click to get the app to run.
I think you're comparing xtdesktop to dfm (not the WM's)

Posted by mikshaw on Jan. 24 2008,17:31
The issue you raise isn't a difference in window managers, but a difference in the desktop icons. In DSL the icons are a separate program from the WM. Previous versions used Xtdesktop, but version 4 uses dfm. If you switched to Fluxbox in DSL 4 you'd see that the double-click behavior is still there.

Posted by newby on Jan. 24 2008,17:51
> ... Fluxbox (causes) development issues...
> ...
> ... flwm uses fltk, so it looks consistent with our Lua/Fltk programs.

Because Fluxbox has been the default, my guess is that many users fall in love with it.  They'd like any replacement that functions similarly, flwm does sound like a good choice - I vote for it.

Posted by chaostic on Jan. 25 2008,06:49
I come from Mac (6,7,8,10.3,10.4)
Fluxbox Taskbar at the top. It even works like OSX (Only one window in it at a time)
Icons, well, since I have the slit and conky on the right, the icons go on the right. If I could find a really lightway (DSL thinking) dock, I would have them on the right like I do in OSX (Never liked having the dock on the bottom).

But to be unique to DSL, I am used to the fluxbox menu at the pointer, and running apps from xterm (which I started to do in OSX after I started doing it in DSL). I don't use the filesystem aliases in the dock to go through files either. Its either through terminal or finder windows. But then again, I don't store many files in dsl, only in a server capacity (NFS-Kernel-Server)

Oh. Rant rant. :D

Posted by danielp on Jan. 30 2008,16:40
I just found this topic and would like to try flwm. How should I proceed (warning: complete newbie in changing window managers here!) ?

Thanks for any pointers!

Posted by florian on May 27 2008,00:53
Sorry to re-open a thread that has been closed for some months, but I just happen to notice the last unanswered question.

I just found this topic and would like to try flwm. How should I proceed (warning: complete newbie in changing window managers here!) ?

Thanks for any pointers!

I wanted to try flwm and just compiled it! I can submit it as an extension for you (and others) to try it too. Extension uses the FLTK shared libs so DSL 4.4RC1 or above is required. This way flwm is only 43.6K uncompressed (three times smaller than jwm).

Posted by roberts on May 27 2008,04:21
It now posted in the testing area see this < post >
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