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Re: fvwm vs. fvwm-crystal

> So tell me, Why did you decide Window Maker was better than fvwm-crystal
> and what about other managers like blackbox or XFCE.  All of them are
> lightweight according to what I have read.
> Personally I like KDE because it is so configurable and has a very
> constant look with it's apps, but you see if you look at the headers to
> this mail that I use IceDove, so I am not exclusively using KDE apps.
> Joe

Well, I've tried out a lot of Window Manager, so I'll give my reviews
on each (From lightest to heaviest, ending with Window Maker [Not
because it's the heaviest, but because I have the most to write about
for it])

Ion2: Arguably the lightest window manager available. I loved Ion2 and
I'd definitely use it on a desktop, but being on a laptop I need a
system tray for monitoring battery life and my WiFi networks.
Therefore Ion wasn't a viable choice for me. But, as a window manager
Ion is great. It runs on hotkeys (Which are completely configurable)
and acts as basically an X equivalent to screen (apt-get install
screen and run it from a terminal if you don't know what screen is.
Also the Gentoo Wiki has an awesome tutorial for learning screen in 5

Ratpoison: Barely touched it, but from what I was able to tell it is
very similar to Ion.

Fluxbox: A nice window manager, I really only use it when I'm running
DSL or FeatherLinux (But lately I've grown accustomed to
SystemRescueCD, which I'll talk about later [0 for review]). Fluxbox
is nice and configurable, and it has some pretty cool default hotkeys
(Like Ctrl+F# for desktop switching). Fluxbox is a nice window manager
for those who don't want to spend too much time configuring their
window manager, but it is also good for those who want to spend
tedious hours working on every last detail. There is no inbetween.

Fvwm: Too hard to configure for me, but from what I've seen it's an
awesome window manager after reading through all of the docs. It takes
a day to a week to configure how you want, but it's well worth it I've
heard (From people who use it).

Fvwm-Crystal: A nice wm for those who don't want to spend hours
editing configuration files. It's pretty easy to change the settings,
and a nice all-around, simple window manager (Probably even simpler
than Fluxbox), but I just couldn't find my groove with it; Don't ask
me why.

IceWM: A nice, simple, barely need to edit the configuration window
manager. I use it by default for my laptop's guest account, because it
quickly acts just like a Windows computer; Which is very nice for
people coming to my house, wanting to check their webmail and things
like that (I'll admit I'm 17, so all of my friends actually check
their MySpace and things when they come over. I don't have one
personally, but that's a rant for another place and time). The only
thing I DON'T like about IceWM is when people complain that "Linux is
just trying to be like Windows", which is completely untrue (Keep in
mind that it's these same people that don't understand what a window
manager is, or even comprehend what GNU is!).

Enlightenment (E17): Beautiful, but not too functional. After hours of
tinkering I couldn't get E17 to do what I wanted, so I just gave up on

Xfce4: I used this for a while back when I was a newbie on Xubuntu (I
prefer speed against size). Xfce4 is nice and customizable, definitely
better than GNOME in almost every aspect. It is GTK powered, and it's
Xfwm window manager is by a longshot better than Metacity (GNOME's
current window manager). In my opinion the GNOME project should adopt
Xfwm as their official window manager. Anyway, Xfce4 is easy to
customize, and has it's own set of tools as well. It stays pretty
lightweight, but there is a limit to how lightweight a DESKTOP
ENVIRONMENT can be (Keep in mind Xfce4 is a DE, not a WM)

GNOME: A nice desktop environment for newbies to GNU/Linux and experts
alike, GNOME offers all kinds of things other DEs don't. GNOME is very
configurable (Not near as much as Xfce though) and runs /somewhat/
quickly, but altogether the default configurations should be fine for
anyone running it. I have friends who swear by it, but I personally
don't like being on it; I feel like my computer is controlling me
instead of me controlling it!

KDE: Ah, KDE. Either you hate it or you love it. Personally I love it,
if I had to choose something to use besides Window Maker it would be
KDE. KDE is easy to configure (Although it takes a few hours, it's
much easier than going through docs and config files in my opinion),
and has tons and tons of options. If there is one problem I have with
the KDE suite it would be Konqueror; I hated it as both a web and file
browser. It didn't have as many options as Mozilla's Gecko powered
browsers (Including the unofficial Galeon), and didn't offer the
options that I needed (Like having the browser's font override the

Window Maker: Finally, we land on my choice. Window maker. Window
maker took me about four days to set up, but once I got started I
couldn't get off the addiction. Window maker has an easy to use
configuration tool called "wmakerconf" (Available in the repositories)
which makes configuring Window Maker a breeze. Window Maker had
options for hotkeys (Which I'll explain at the bottom, the way I have
it set up is to simple I'm surprised it's not enabled by default) and
the way it manages windows and workspaces just makes sense. I love the
Window Maker menu, because being on a laptop I got annoyed having to
hold down the right click button in Fluxbox (Plus sometimes when I
clicked outside of it the Fluxbox menu didn't close, which aggrivated

Window Maker isn't a suite, so you can use any applications you want.
Personally I use Aterm with Tcsh as my shell, I use Galeon/Links2 for
browsing, Gaim for chatting, Pcmanfm for file browsing (When I'm not
using aterm), Mutt for email and Raggle for RSS feeds. This setup,
while not a "desktop suite" works efficiently well when tied together
with hotkeys and quick fingers. Think Ion2 with minimal mouse

Now, as for my hotkeys, here it goes:

Desktop switching is Ctrl+Alt+Left and Ctrl+Alt+Right. I have four
desktops in all, and with Window Maker's clip I can easily tell which
I'm on on the fly. 

Ctrl+Alt+* for normal hotkeys, i.e. XMMS2 (Which I use for music),
Ctrl+Alt+L for locking the screen, K for xkill, among others.

Ctrl+Q is for closing windows, which I grew accustomed to with my time
in GNOME. It's just much easier than reaching for those Alt keys in my

Alt+W for minimizing, Alt+E for shading, Alt+S for toggling
maximization, and Alt+Tab for window switching. This is just the
easiest for me to remember, since the majority of my Ctrl+* and Alt+*
hotkeys are left hand only.

The final hotkey, and the one that really isn't used often, is
Ctrl+Shift+Button for launching apps. Example:

Ctrl+Shift+M for Mutt
Ctrl+Shift+R for Raggler/RSS
Ctrl+Shift+Z for xlinks2
Ctrl+Shift+B for Galeon
Ctrl+Sihft+F for midnight commander
Ctrl+Shift+P for Pcmanfm

This just makes the most sense to me, being that:

M is for Mail/Mutt
R is for RSS/Ragglr
Z is for ease of use
B is for browser
F is for file manager
P is for pcmanfm

I use Window Maker with 4 dockapps,

wmmixer for raising/lowering volume using my scrollbar
pclock with my custom Debian graphic (If anyone wants it just ask) for
analog time
wmsystray for my system tray applications (Was a bitch to get
installed, it depends on Sarge X packages that aren't in X. Just
install, copy the binary, remove and put the binary back in /usr/bin
and it works fine)
And mountapp for automounting my media volumes

This just makes the most sense to me, runs quickly, is lightweight,
and works perfectly fine alongside a few GNOME-centric programs
(gnome-keyring-daemon, network-manager-gnome, gnome-power-manager, and

Deciding on a window manager for a laptop is a lot more work than a
desktop in my opinion, because a laptop needs a bit more than a
desktop; i.e. a workable, easy to access system tray.

[0] SystemRescueCD http://www.sysresccd.org/Main_Page

SystemRescueCD is a LiveCD that boots into a root terminal, and
contains multiple programs for, well, system rescues/maintenance. It
comes with Window Maker and Firefox, which I do use when I boot into
the CD for non-system rescue purposes.

I got it working nicely off of my USB Thumbdrive in under 20 minutes,
with less problems than DSL/FeatherLinux. And I'm currently trying to
remaster it so I can add in a few programs (Gaim, for on the go IMs.
Although for now I use http://iloveim.com/).

A good LiveCD if you need to restore systems often. Also a good, nice,
light LiveCD if you like Wmaker. I've yet to find a way to save my
settings, and until I do I won't do any hardcore customizing.

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