Linked by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Nov 2011 21:29 UTC
Window Managers Calm window manager (mainly known for its shorthand name cwm) is a member of a once-powerful and now-declining family of minimalist X11 window managers. It is relatively unknown outside the OpenBSD community, but it deserves more notice.
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Been running cwm for over six months now!
by Bink on Tue 22nd Nov 2011 22:02 UTC
Bink
Member since:
2006-02-19

Been running cwm for over six months now! It just works!

Reply Score: 4

Interesting concept
by Dirge on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 02:51 UTC
Dirge
Member since:
2005-07-14

Thanks Dmitrij for the write up, I wasn't aware of this style of window manager.

Reply Score: 3

Nice concise article
by boblowski on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 09:01 UTC
boblowski
Member since:
2007-07-23

I like these kind of articles -- a nice and compact introduction to something I wasn't familiar with.

Way too much "my GUI/OS/WM/etc is best because it glows in the dark" kind of BS in this world. It's good to hear how others try to solve useability issues and enhance the user experience in their own productive and positive way, even if I have and probably will never personally use this specific WM. Thanks!

Reply Score: 4

Mouse-less interface
by Moonbuzz on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 09:08 UTC
Moonbuzz
Member since:
2005-07-09

"The main goal of every minimalist window manager is to get out of the user's way"

Sadly, with a keyboard interface, a window manager does exactly the opposite, by forcing the user to learn all the invocations she needs to get stuff done. It's slower, and demands more of the user than a simple point-and-click interface. The idea of a mouse-less graphical interface is an anomaly, which doesn't prove correct.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Mouse-less interface
by tux68 on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 09:15 UTC in reply to "Mouse-less interface"
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

forcing the user to learn all the invocations she needs to get stuff done. It's slower


It may take longer to learn, but can often be much faster to use in practice. Plus, cwm gives visual feedback by narrowing your choices to those selected by your search input. So this does not equate with a return to the command line where your argument is more applicable.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Mouse-less interface
by Moonbuzz on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 10:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Mouse-less interface"
Moonbuzz Member since:
2005-07-09

You misunderstood me, I'm not referring to slowness of learning, but to slowness of usage.

First, a mouse-based interface has been proven to be faster than a keyboard-based interface. While I'm sure that constant use of a specific interface over a long time can get you to be very fast on a given application, but across the board, mouse-based interface is faster.

Second, a mouse-based interface is ubiquitous. A click on a window is the same in a window-manager, a browser, a media player etc. Keyboard-based interfaces each have their own choice of shortcuts; so you have a situation where the same action might have different shortcuts in different applications, and the same shortcuts can perform different actions in different application. It gets worse when, as mentioned before, some frequently-used shortcuts become wired to your muscle memory and you start performing them everywhere, to hilarious results.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Mouse-less interface
by Doc Pain on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 11:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Mouse-less interface"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

First, a mouse-based interface has been proven to be faster than a keyboard-based interface.


That heavily depends on what the interface... interfaces to, what kind of program or functionality. But I'll assume that you don't make a generic claim here (which would obviously be nonsense), but consider the operations of a window manager, which is managing windows (and maybe applications).

The keyboard removes the requirement of nearly pixel precise movement of the mouse. For example, a common way to move a window on the screen is pressing the Alt key and clicking somewhere into the window, then dragging it. In case a window manager uses title bars or tabs to move a window, you need to place the mouse pointer into it, which requires more precision. Resizing a window by "picking" its narrow border also requires precision. Alternative? Press Alt, hold down the right mouse button anywhere inside the window and resize the window as you like.

The concept of "pointing anywhere into a window and then pressing a key for a certain action" (where "key" may refer to a key on the keyboard, or the combination of a modifier key of the keyboard and a mouse key click, e. g. Alt + right mouse button) is very comfortable, especially if you consider the enormous amount of X window managers, compared to what "Windows" can do. Foreground, background, focus (yes, independent of each other!), maximize, restore, minimize, roll up, hide, move to different virtual workspace, close, capture, window overview, send to printer... lots of things that would take more time to achieve using a mouse. Just imagine every window would require 20 buttons for just the "average" amount of functionality in the title bars, or those functions had be listed in some lengthly menue... oh, and add buttons for virtual workspace management and so on.

I may add an individual note: I like window managers that provide a good combination (!) of mouse interactions and keyboard shortcuts. Currently I'm using WindowMaker with a "programmable keyboard" (Sun USB Type 7), using the 2x5 matrix on the left for window managing functions primarily. So I'm not advocating a mouse-less interface, just as I don't recommend a keyboard-less interface, but in my opinion and experience, the key to productivity is a good and reasonable combination of both. This combines both the power of a window manager with easily employing that power in everyday use, which traditionally benefits productivity in general.

Especially on small-sized displays, e. g. "service laptops" (often netbooks) where you have to deal with 800x600 or 1040x600 (or something in that relation), you will be happy to be able to manage your windows using the keyboard. Why? Because - 1st argument - the available pointer, typically a glide pad, is very unprecise to "pick" things like window corners or tiny buttons, and - 2nd argument - you don't have screen real estate to waste for control elements, because the screen appears to be too small anyway. (I'm still using a 500 MHz AMD laptop with a 800x600 screen for diagnostics and setup, and it works excellently with a manually configured version of fvwm2 with good keyboard and mouse controls setup.)

As you mentioned that you're not going to challenge the massive impact of learning, I won't provide arguments for that; I'll leave it to the educated reader as an exercise. :-)

Second, a mouse-based interface is ubiquitous. A click on a window is the same in a window-manager, a browser, a media player etc. Keyboard-based interfaces each have their own choice of shortcuts; so you have a situation where the same action might have different shortcuts in different applications, and the same shortcuts can perform different actions in different application. It gets worse when, as mentioned before, some frequently-used shortcuts become wired to your muscle memory and you start performing them everywhere, to hilarious results.


This is something I won't argue with you. :-)

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Mouse-less interface
by tux68 on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 19:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Mouse-less interface"
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

First, a mouse-based interface has been proven to be faster than a keyboard-based interface.


You're over generalizing. There are definitely cases where a mouse-based interface is dog-slow compared to keyboard interface. In fact I'd be willing to challenge you to a text editing contest where you use the GUI of your choice against my use of the Linux TUI with tools such as vim etc.

Having said that, there are many cases where users can communicate their intentions more efficiently with a GUI. It's just far from a universal truth.

To bring it back to the topic at hand; my feeling is that the Calm window manager allows users to be very efficient, perhaps much more so than say the new Gnome WM.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Mouse-less interface
by phoenix on Thu 24th Nov 2011 05:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Mouse-less interface"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

You misunderstood me, I'm not referring to slowness of learning, but to slowness of usage.

First, a mouse-based interface has been proven to be faster than a keyboard-based interface.


Citation needed.

I have yet to find a heavy-mouse user who is faster than a heavy-keyboard user. Especially when it comes to "typical" secretary work (document creation, document formatting, file management, e-mail, website updates, accounting, etc). A steno who knows keyboard shortcuts for everything is many, many, many times more productive than one who only knows which icons to click on.

While I'm sure that constant use of a specific interface over a long time can get you to be very fast on a given application, but across the board, mouse-based interface is faster.


I strongly disagree. A mouse-based interface is easier to learn, but a keyboard interface to the same mouse-based interface will be faster.

For example, to save a file in a word processor:
ALT+F, A
type filename
enter

Is much easier/faster than:
mouse hand to mouse
move mouse to top-left corner of window, click on File menu
move mouse down to Save as, click
type filename
move mouse to OK

Second, a mouse-based interface is ubiquitous. A click on a window is the same in a window-manager, a browser, a media player etc. Keyboard-based interfaces each have their own choice of shortcuts;


That's a poorly thought out interface then, and not the fault of the entire category. The same can be said for mouse-based interfaces where sometime single-clicking activates an item, sometimes double-clicking activates an item, sometimes drag'n drop activates a menu, sometimes drag'n drop doesn't, some apps have menus, some have icons, some have ribbons, etc.

It gets worse when, as mentioned before, some frequently-used shortcuts become wired to your muscle memory and you start performing them everywhere, to hilarious results.


And that's different from mouse-based muscle memory? You ever watched a very proficient MS Word 2003 user switch to 2007 the first time? Or an MS Word 6 user siwtch to 95+ the first time?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Mouse-less interface
by Moonbuzz on Thu 24th Nov 2011 08:49 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Mouse-less interface"
Moonbuzz Member since:
2005-07-09

Alright, first, the obligatory links:
http://www.asktog.com/TOI/toi06KeyboardVMouse1.html
http://www.asktog.com/TOI/toi22KeyboardVMouse2.html
http://www.asktog.com/SunWorldColumns/S02KeyboardVMouse3.html
http://www.plan9.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/Mouse_vs._keyboard/index....

Second, cwm is a window manager, not a text editor, a terminal etc. While I'm sure find /foo/bar/*.c | grep baz | xargs whatever is a zillion times faster than doing that using a GUI, this isn't what we're discussing here (or at least isn't what I'm discussing (; ). A window manager, by definition, manages windows, for which a mouse is, again, proven to be faster than keyboards, and more ubiquitous. You may try to exaggerate with "you have to learn to click this button for this and that button for that", but that's not what the interface is, what you have to learn is left-click, right-click, double click, maybe wheel-scroll, and this applies to windows, menus, tabs, inside a browser, in an editor, you name it. And while I'm also sure someone who uses Xwm (replace X with your own flavour) for 3 years can make windows dance around with his keyboards, that is an edge case, which doesn't apply for the other 99% of cases.

Again, I'm not suggesting that you should do your coding, sysadministrating, dba-ing, or whatever in a GUI, I "live" inside screen, bash, and Emacs because these give me the superior environment for what I do. But I run all those inside Gnome-Shell because it does what I need, window management wise, and doesn't interfere with anything else. Same reason I use Firefox rather than, dunno, lynx. Choose the right tool for the right job. You won't code with your mouse, and you, I think, better with a mouse when you use a GUI.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Mouse-less interface
by ddc_ on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 11:09 UTC in reply to "Mouse-less interface"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Sadly, with a keyboard interface, a window manager does exactly the opposite, by forcing the user to learn all the invocations she needs to get stuff done.

Well, with any piece of software You have to learn something. With point-and-click interface You still have to learn the types of action invoked by right/left/middle click (or modifiers on Mac), menu structure, wordings and so on. It's less visible, but still relevant. And it is plain wrong that point-and-click interfaces are easy to use. Eg., my father gets very puzzled with everything in Windows, while he was very comfortable with DOS and NC.

For me it was easier to learn Vi keys and install the software which knows that. That said, my first computer was running brand new Windows 3.1 (not 3.11), and I switched to UNIXes after a couple of years in XP.

It's slower, and demands more of the user than a simple point-and-click interface.

So true, and there were even several studies on this. But this is only valid for newbie users, as the rest of us have their habits.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Mouse-less interface
by gan17 on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 12:08 UTC in reply to "Mouse-less interface"
gan17 Member since:
2008-06-03

"The idea of a mouse-less graphical interface is an anomaly, which doesn't prove correct"

It's "correct" enough for me, and that's what matters to most people. Some like keybinds and some like clicky-clicky, horses for courses.

Cwm has become my primary WM, meaning it's the WM that's set in my ~/.xinitrc to launch when I do a "startx", but I tend to rely of ScrotWM more often (which I can launch from within Cwm via the "exec WindowManager" option) these days. Personally, I tend to get stuff done much faster with their keyboard driven setups, especially combined with other Vi-like programs (Vim, Uzbl, Vimperator, Tmux...etc). Only times I see myself reach for a mouse or stylus is when I'm on graphics apps like Inkscape, GIMP, BibblePro or Photoshop (Wine).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Mouse-less interface
by reez on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Mouse-less interface"
reez Member since:
2006-06-28

Only times I see myself reach for a mouse or stylus is when I'm on graphics apps like Inkscape, GIMP

That's funny. I think there aren't any applications (well besides web browsers) where I enjoy shortcuts more than in these two.

I have been using i3/wmii/xmonad (and similar window managers) for a very long time. It all looks awesome when you start with, but then you launch your first applications, open an ssh connection, start tmux inside and so on and suddenly your shortcut does three actions at once. And then the problems begin. You change key bindings, but then their interfere in other situations, so you make more complicated key bindings, holding down more buttons and in the end you have real problems because of your brain has problems to keep up with all this short cuts and you somehow decouple from what your fingers do there. In the end you give up and find out that things looked faster, because you constantly hammered on the keyboard, but efficiency decreased. Then you start to learn all these nifty ideas people had for interfaces using the mouse. You regret that you didn't learn these things earlier.

My conclusion (until now) is that you have to use the right tool for the job. For example stuff like vim are nice and alt-tab is cool, because you use both of them without interrupting your thought process, but when you switch between something like programming and chatting then the mouse seems to be the right approach. The same is true for lots of other things.

One of the best approaches so for is the way Plan 9 and a lot of its applications do it, but the "modern world" sadly doesn't fit with this. I really would like to see something like acme in the real world. It also supports HTTP/basic WWW, but you can't really use it for your every day stuff.

I have also been a great fan of browsers vimperator and conky for a while. Sadly they interfere with web sites that are already developed for efficient use. Oh and using them together with an "efficient" window manager is an absolute hell. Way too many key bindings with the same meaning.

Edited 2011-11-23 14:39 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Mouse-less interface
by foregam on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 21:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Mouse-less interface"
foregam Member since:
2010-11-17

Being myself an ex-wmii user, I don't see why you had to change the keybindings, unless you kept Mod1 as the default modifier. It's very cool to change your desktop via 9fs (wmii2 FTW!), but soon it becomes a bit too tiring. So back to Blackbox again.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Mouse-less interface
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 16:16 UTC in reply to "Mouse-less interface"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Please ignore.

Edited 2011-11-23 16:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Mouse-less interface
by M.Onty on Thu 24th Nov 2011 16:14 UTC in reply to "Mouse-less interface"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

To add my tuppence worth;

I habitually use keyboard shortcuts where ever I can for GUIs (with a lot of mouse pointing to, certainly) and I would say that the advantage isn't necessarily to do with speed, so much as rhythm. For anyone who spends most of their work time writing in one form or another, taking hands off keyboard and onto mouse feels like a break, rather than a continuation, of your work. Its generally faster to use the mouse (for me at least), but its less jarring to use the keyboard.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Mouse-less interface
by Moonbuzz on Thu 24th Nov 2011 17:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Mouse-less interface"
Moonbuzz Member since:
2005-07-09

For the record, if you read the links I supplied what you, and others refer to with "feels like a break" unlike using keyboard shortcuts is a result of an Attentional Blink (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attentional_blink) where the cognitive retrieving of a keyboard shortcut causes you to feel like it's faster, while the mouse, with no need for a cognitive retrieval of a shortcut feels slower.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by OSbunny
by OSbunny on Fri 25th Nov 2011 10:28 UTC
OSbunny
Member since:
2009-05-23

"It is relatively unknown outside the OpenBSD community, but it deserves more notice."

No it doesn't. It's looks ancient.

Edited 2011-11-25 10:29 UTC

Reply Score: 0