Linux Window Manager

Leaving GNOME and KDE out of it because they get plenty of attention, which window managers do you like and why?

Personally, I like Blackbox. It’s nice and minimalistic. No icons, just a slit at the bottom to show me the time and what app is active. I love having everything available from the right-click menu. Also, the configuration files are easily understood and edited. For having so few features, it does everything I want.

Except let me use the mouse wheel to scroll from desktop to desktop. Which is where Xfce4 comes in. Beautiful little window manager that lets you have the look and feel of GNOME without the bloat and the propensity to hang when the network settings change frequently. Xfce has come a long, long way. Used to be one of the ugly ass window managers that I wouldn’t even think of running. Simple front panel, optional task bar. Halfway between minimalist and full featured. Good compromise.

So, for those of you who have ventured beyond KDE and GNOME, which ones did you like. And if there are any Enlightenment fans out there, I’d be especially interested in hearing how you can stand it. Insert smiley here.

GNOME is such a pain in the ass. Unfortunately the default platform at work requires it.

I guess I should just be happy that I don’t have to use Windows.

My favorite is Blackbox also.

I’ve used IceWM and Fluxbox most extensively, and overall I prefer IceWM. Aside from the fact that on my source-based distribution I can’t get a precompiled Fluxbox binary, and GCC 3.3 has hiccups when trying to compile the Fluxbox source (or any *box source, for that matter), I find the keyboard integration of IceWM much more extensive. For example, in IceWM I can pop up the menu and navigate to my favorite applications without ever touching the mouse, but in Fluxbox the best I can do is open the menu with a keyboard shortcut and then navigate the menu with the mouse. IceWM also has finer control over the mouse movement, in that I can specify delay times in milliseconds before a mouse hover activates a submenu or before a tool tip appears. These and other fine tuning of mouse-driven events provide a smoother working environment that would satisfy the epicurean expectations of users accustomed to the Mac user interface.

Well, see, right now my favorite is Windows XP’s GUI because…:.D&R::


I’ve tried IceWM a couple times. It was okay, but changing or adding applications to the bottom panel was a pain. Is there an easy way to do it? If I could get rid of the emacs button with ease, I’d be happier with IceWM.

FluxBox is great, but i’m back to Gnome for the moment. Come to think of it though, i’m sure I got a lot more work done under FluxBox…

IANALU but I fool around in FreeBSD and the X11 environment of OSX.

I like the aesthetics of WindowMaker. Not too much overhead but all the functionality you really need. I like the way the menu comes into existence only when you invoke it, and is so customizable.

If you’re comfortable with editing the configuration files for Blackbox, then IceWM should also present little difficulty. Copy the files /usr/share/icewm/{toolbar,menu,preferences} to ~/.icewm/ and edit them to remove whatever program launch icons you don’t want.

The only thing that keeps me from liking WindowMaker is how square everything is. All those sharp corners. It just doesn’t feel comfortable.

And I didn’t mean to leave out BSD users. I meant to exclude WindowsXP and all the people that think they have a choice about something more than the colors.

I used KDE for a long time, but it was starting to piss me off (kept spawning artsd, which I don’t even need!). So I moved to IceWM. It’s fast, I dig the taskbar, and it’s had a few pleasant surprises. Like when I configured the taskbar to be double-height, I was expecting more room for tabs. Instead, it sprouted a command-line. Result: I don’t have to spawn an xterm for all the programs I want to run (and frankly, I rarely use that menu in the corner anyway).

I also like the tiny little ethernet and CPU monitors down by the clock.

Way back in the day I used WindowMaker on a regular basis. I tried that briefly when I decided to stop using KDE, but the lack of a taskbar really turned me off.

A buddy of mine uses ratpoison, which is basically screen for X. It’s hardcore minimalist.

Window Managers are for pussies. Real men use the console.

Yeah. That’s why my favorite window manager is screen.

My first real experience working with computers was Solaris 2.5.1 and Solaris 2.6. There were some 4.1.3 boxes, but I’ve tried to forget them. Anyway, every day I worked on Solaris and I thanked God CDE existed because OpenWindows and Motif were so damned bad. Even in our office, though, there were Motif bigots or OpenWindows fans. But I thought CDE was beautiful.

Then I started travelling and working on servers. For a couple years, all I saw on the non-windows side was the console. I didn’t even have the luxury of a tailored .profile. Nope, /bin/sh out of the box.

Once I started using Linux, I was having all kinds of fun switching window managers and finding the one that fit. Life was good.

And then I sat down at a Solaris workstation again. With a monitor. And CDE. And I damn near cried. I couldn’t get any work done. I kept trying to make CDE just a little less ugly.

I love Solaris. It’s a hell of an OS. But Sun better get a move on porting Java Desktop to Solaris. I can’t live like with CDE much longer and the GNOME they distribute is old, tired and not much better.

Gotta love the ability to view pr0… er, choice images.


I like WindowMaker because I think NeXT Got it Right in a kind of general sense. I admit to using KDE now, though, because of all the neat stuff you can pack into the various bars (RSS/RDF crawls, weather reports, various system metrics). Heck, I’ve got two bars now, one on top and one on the bottom. [Cartman]Sweet.[/Cartman] :smiley:

However, I’m a real butterfly when it comes to window managers. I flit from the austere simplicity of twm to the sheer eye candy of Enlightenment, and then off into odd tangents like Ion and evilwm. I’ve had good experiences with fvwm. Since I jump between these based on my mood, I can’t pick one as a favorite.

I’ve not had that much experience with WMs, but the minute I used Blackbox, I fell in love with it. It’s just so…simple and beautiful.

Same here. I was introduced to it a few years ago and never left. It’s all I’ve ever wanted in a window manager.

Thanks for starting this thread. I use GNOME on my second box (A Libranet/Denian based PC, with Windows XP on the first box). I’m working to get LInux installed on an elderly 133 MHz PC I salvaged from my parents, , and it would be nice to run something other than twm or fvwm.

Another vote for Window Maker.

[Slight Hijack for Questions]

I’m sorry to admit that, being a Linux newbie, I’m a KDE user. Already though, It’s pissing me off. Sure it’s nice but bloated and too slow. Which of the ones featured in this discussion (Blackbox, FluxBox, IceWM, WindowMaker) can I switch to and still be able to use the apps I love? Mainly, I like my LimeWire for P2P, Azuerues for BitTorrents, Firebird for Browsing, Evolution for Email, KWrite for Text Editing, and K3B for Burning.

Well I have to drop the applications that are specific to KDE?

I want speed, speed, speed!!!

[/Slight Hijack for Questions]

As long as you keep the necessary libraries (QT, gtk+, etc.) installed on your hard drive, you can run any of those apps using a lightweight window manager instead of KDE. When you use KDE, though, all the QT libraries are loaded by default when you start your X session, so starting a program that uses the QT libraries might seem snappier than if you started it under one of the minimalist window managers. Similarly with gtk+ apps, which might seem to load faster under GNOME than under Blackbox. Once loaded, though, all your programs should feel as responsive as ever, perhaps more so, with less overhead devoted to the window manager.