Thursday, April 29, 2010

My quest for a window manager

A quick glance at my screenshots page shows that I have been using FVWM1 for a very long time now. FVWM1 is definitely showing its age; newer applications (such as VMware player) don’t work very well with FVWM1.

So, I spent some time trying to find something more recent that works for me. I have tried out a few different window managers:
  • Afterstep. While the most recent release was only a year ago, the program feels incomplete and abandoned. The documentation on the website is incomplete; the Afterstep Wiki has not been updated for over 90 days; and the website has dead links like The project does not appear to have an active community. In addition, the program takes 20 to 30 seconds to start up, which seems excessive for what should be a simple window manager.
  • HaZe. This was abadoned in 2002, but I tried it anyway. It took me about 30 minutes to get it to compile; after getting it to compile, it ended with a segfault. This is obviously, at best, a half-finished window manager.
  • I didn’t try any of the tiling window mangers. I have been very productive for nearly two decades with virtual desktop window managers; a new paradigm of window management is not what I need.
  • XFCE 3.2. Ancient release of XFCE; took me about two hours to get this critter to compile and run in CentOS 5 (and, for anyone that’s interested, I have a RPM here). It starts up quickly but I couldn’t find a way to assign keyboard shortcuts to change the virtual desktop I am on.
In my next blog entry, I will describe the Window manager I have been using for about two months and that I’m happy with.