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#1 2013-01-08 00:41:02

Old Codger
Member
From: The Great White North
Registered: 2012-12-22
Posts: 10

What Am I Missing?

Would some kind soul please explain to me what I seem to be missing in terms of window managers.

I’ve read several threads where people talk about their preferred window managers and how they are configured but I’m not getting it.  I’ve read parts of 2ManyDogs’ excellent thread “30 Window Managers in 30 Days” but get lost in the technicalities so turn to the screenshots to see what I’m missing and for a clearer understanding. Unfortunately, I’m not even sure what I should be looking at. Should I be noticing the window controls in the top right corner (the “minimise”, “full screen" and “maximise” buttons) or the lack thereof? Are the scroll bars different somehow or the ways of resizing a window? How is any of this different to something that is possible (I’m guessing here) with Openbox. While tinkering with the Openbox “GUI Config Tool" I saw that I can change the window buttons with it but I feel there is something more I’m not understanding.

Can someone please enlighten me? (see what I did there?)

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#2 2013-01-08 00:52:48

el_koraco
#!/loony/bun
From: inside Ed
Registered: 2011-07-25
Posts: 4,749

Re: What Am I Missing?

In the X window system the graphical interface is divided into the X server, which only handles the most primitive of tasks like keyboard and mouse events, and window managers, which are programs designed to handle how you interface with the desktop elements. There are various differences between them. Some organize the windows by floating them on the desktop, some organize them in a tiled grid. Among the latter, some do this automatically, some require manual movement. With some, you have to do everything with the mouse, some only accept the keyboard. Some have graphical configuration tools, for some you have to edit configuration files, others yet require you to modify the source code and recompile.

The best way to see the differences is to try out a window manager for yourself.

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#3 2013-01-08 05:18:31

stolid
#! CrunchBanger
Registered: 2012-09-06
Posts: 206

Re: What Am I Missing?

The main/biggest difference you'll probably find in some window managers is the feature of tiling. Check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager

There's also some window managers which combine elements/combinations of tiling and floating (floating is what you're probably used to). I love tiling, but I don't use it very often. I went with Awesome WM since it supports both. I also liked spectrwm (a simple tiling window manager), but it lacked a built-in system tray, so I kept looking.


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#4 2013-01-08 09:30:34

zalew
#! Junkie
From: Warsaw, .PL
Registered: 2012-03-28
Posts: 374

Re: What Am I Missing?

it's hard to experience a window manager by looking at screenshots. most wms can look like whatever you make them look, but the overall user experience is much more than that. you just have to install it and (try to) use it.

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#5 2013-01-08 09:55:55

joek
#! Junkie
Registered: 2011-09-06
Posts: 497

Re: What Am I Missing?

Essentially, the big differences between window managers are:
* Whether it is tiling (like i3 or spectrwm) or stacking (like openbox)
* How it is configured: by some graphical tool (like the window managers with KDE, Gnome, and Xfce), by a text configuration file (like OB), or by recompiling the source (like DWM)
* What language the configuration file is in: xml, lua, fvwmscript
* What it can do: something like fvwm, if you put enough time in, can do anything you want, essentially; openbox or pekwm are relatively flexible, something like aewm is basically unconfigurable
* What it looks like.

The best way to see the difference, though, is simply to experience them. I would recommend that everyone at least *try* a tiling wm, simply to experience a different way of working, at some point.

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#6 2013-01-09 03:06:37

Old Codger
Member
From: The Great White North
Registered: 2012-12-22
Posts: 10

Re: What Am I Missing?

Thanks for all the information, the reason I've shied away from installing a window manager is that I've never known what I can do with it or what it can do for me, but having been given some encouraging advice I shall certainly give it a go. I'll have a another look at 2ManyDogs' thread again and make a choice.

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#7 2013-01-10 09:31:52

Resident Bot
#! Die Hard
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2012-02-17
Posts: 573

Re: What Am I Missing?

@OldCodger - I'm probably as old if not older.
I was also new to Tiling WM's  I tried a few but found them hard to set up. I then tried Awesome and at least it came with a bar and system tray already set up for me. I liked the way I could use it in tiled mode or floating etc.
I have now moved to i3. I found it harder to configure as I had to find out how to get a system tray working but after that I stuck with it because It's the only one I have come across that also lets me have tabbed windows - like web browsers do.
good luck!


Troll = not a fanatic
slave of #!  and arch

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#8 2013-01-11 03:15:34

Old Codger
Member
From: The Great White North
Registered: 2012-12-22
Posts: 10

Re: What Am I Missing?

I haven't installed a WM yet but have been reading a lot about them. The responses I got in this thread actually answered a few of my questions and of course raised others, but urged me to investigate further. I've read even more of 2ManyDogs' thread and things are sinking in. I found the Arch wiki on this subject very useful too.

One question I do have, when I used to use Ubuntu in its early incarnation (Hoary Hedgehog) I seem to remember (IIRC) being able to choose a session when logging in. Is this possible with a standard CrunchBang (Waldorf) installation? When I log out I am presented with the opportunity to enter my name and then password but I see no way of selecting a different session. Do I need to edit the login manager (is it SLiM?). From my reading I think I can edit the "xinitrc" file instead but I was thinking it might be nice to have several WMs installed and choose from the session menu. Does any of this sound feasible or am I talking a load of "Jackson Pollocks" rubbish?

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#9 2013-01-11 10:29:53

joek
#! Junkie
Registered: 2011-09-06
Posts: 497

Re: What Am I Missing?

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Sl … vironments is, I think, what you are looking for.
Once you have configured your .xinitrc file correctly, you can cycle through the window manager launched with X using F1.

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#10 2013-01-11 20:44:48

mynis01
#! Die Hard
From: 127.0.0.1
Registered: 2010-07-02
Posts: 1,961

Re: What Am I Missing?

There's also ways to add pseudo tiling functionality to openbox. There's an app called pytyle that tiles your windows and has hotkeys and the whole deal. Myself I'm happy just adding these shortcuts to ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml:

<keybind key="W-Right">
<action name="MoveToEdgeEast"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-Up">
<action name="MoveToEdgeNorth"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-Left">
<action name="MoveToEdgeWest"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-Down">
<action name="MoveToEdgeSouth"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-h">
<action name="ToggleMaximizeHorz"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-v">
<action name="ToggleMaximizeVert"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="S-W-Up">
<action name="GrowToEdgeNorth"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="S-W-Right">
<action name="GrowToEdgeEast"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="S-W-Down">
<action name="GrowToEdgeSouth"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="S-W-Left">
<action name="GrowToEdgeWest"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-c">
<action name="MoveToCenter"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-C-Up">
<action name="DirectionalFocusNorth"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-C-Right">
<action name="DirectionalFocusEast"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-C-Down">
<action name="DirectionalFocusSouth"/>
</keybind>
<keybind key="W-C-Left">
<action name="DirectionalFocusWest"/>
</keybind>

I find with those keys and using the built in tiling in terminator I'm able to do pretty much anything I want with my windows in a rapid manner. Then again, 99% of the time I have everything full-screened unless I'm using a bunch of terminal windows.

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#11 2013-04-03 06:05:36

imp2021
#! Member
From: half way
Registered: 2012-06-07
Posts: 59

Re: What Am I Missing?

Hi, erm if you could please change the name of that Topic? "What am I missing?" appears somewhat confusing to me. Something like "What are Window Managers good for?" or something would be more fitting I guess.

..I do usually search by the Topic Names, so in that case, it was confusing and interesting as well no matter what..
Anyhow the last two days I spent hours in reading the #!-Forum and well... I like to find #-talks fitting to their subject very very pleasant.

(On your Topic I thought I find some extra Installments or some anatomy of mw features, which wasn't much likely the case.)


-- I like folding [...]

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#12 2013-04-03 20:57:31

wuxmedia
wookiee madclaw
From: Back in Blighty
Registered: 2012-03-09
Posts: 1,469
Website

Re: What Am I Missing?

if you want a live try out of *nearly all* the WM's in debians kingdom. try LinuxBBQ oyster.
try out a different WM everyday. remember these arent desktop environments.

wrt to slim session, i think you have to hit F1... have a gander at the homepage. i don't think it'll show anything unless it's installed.

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#13 2013-04-04 07:47:33

DebianJoe
#! Code Whisperer
From: The Bleeding Edge
Registered: 2013-03-13
Posts: 1,207
Website

Re: What Am I Missing?

Xaos52 covered in pretty good detail the exact method for hacking in SLiM /etc/slim.conf choices for Window Manager selection.  The Good Doctor's Post here. and start with his Episode2 section for the details.  The Arch answer covers setting up a switch-case statement in the ~/.xinitrc, which you will only have to worry about if you get outside of the basic SLiM options.  (Someone double-check me on this, as I'm not on #!, so if the case has been hacked up for the release, then those may have to be added back in.)

After that, it's easy and fun to play with different WMs.  You can break them, uninstall, reinstall, or go into an environment you're confortable with to edit the files that you broke (not that I've ever broken anything by experimenting.  big_smile  ).  Once you get a feel for a few, you may end up stripping it down to only the ones you really like.  I personally use Openbox/Awesome as needed for if I'm just wanting to mess around, or actually get some coding done.  Best of luck.

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