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I am yet to find something simpler, faster and more productive for my development machine (OpenBSD, ion3 with Terminus monospaced font). I have the occasional flirt with gnome, kde, wmii, xfce or dwm but no other WM gives me the consistent performance i have got used to with ion and i always come back to it.
You might also want to have a look at dwm (dwm.suckless.org), that's the one I use. Xmonad is also great, but it's got a bit more complicated dependencies than dwm (which only needs a C compiler and xlib basically).
Did you try xmonad? i need to test ion3...
there is a ion3 fork named tritium : http://sourceforge.net/projects/tritium/
not tried yet as i'm quite happy with ion3
According to that page:
last i heard, the ion3 dev was spending more time uncovering evidence of the global conspiracy to make peoples fonts blurry, than actually writing code
Two colleagues of mine use ion3 as their wm and everytime I have to stay with them in front of their computers, it's a nightmare for me sorry but even for text sysadministration I need a desktop environment