Home > Window Managers > Customizing FVWM Customizing FVWM Thom Holwerda 2005-08-08 Window Managers 29 Comments FVWM, the F Virtual Windows Manager, is a window manager for computers running the X Window System. While KDE and GNOME offer more features, they are also heavy on memory usage. FVWM is light and fast, and you can customize it to meet your needs. About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda 29 Comments 2005-08-08 7:28 pm The last time someone tried to maximize their FVWM the world was blessed with this: http://www.enlightenment.org 2005-08-08 7:51 pm Clearly those who voted this down have no idea how Enlightenment came to be, and probably didn’t even touch a Linux until Mandrake made it safe for the unwashed masses. 2005-08-08 7:34 pm FVWM is a window manager; that’s all it is. KDE and Gnome are desktop environments; they provide a comprehensive and integrated suite of applications, a framework which the applications share, consistent interfaces etc. Saying that FVWM is an alternative to KDE or GNOME just doesn’t make any sense. What applications are you going to use with FVWM to actually do some work? Most likely, KDE and GNOME applications, which work much better with their integrated components than with FVWM. Why do people compare KDE and GNOME to window managers when they just don’t do the same thing? 2005-08-08 7:50 pm To many people a desktop environment and a window manager have the same core function: they use it to launch and switch between applications. That’s probably where the “confusion” comes from. As for the bit about using Gnome and KDE applications with FVWM, well, you’re confusing the toolkit with the libraries. I can very much assure you that Firefox, as well as many other gtk+ applications, will run without the Gnome desktop environment or even the Gnome libraries. You can even run Qt, Motif, Athena, etc. based applications (never mind the stuff which runs in an xterm). 2005-08-08 7:50 pm mint Actually it’s quite feasible to put together a stable of applications that only depend on gtk or qt for the gui, without the overhead of gnome or kde components. gqview leafpad rox OpenOffice.org firefox gtkpod gimp You can still get work done without a DE. 2005-08-08 7:42 pm ozar Actually, there are plenty of apps available that can be used to get work done and they don’t depend on Gnome, or KDE. Lots of users are now choosing to go with window managers and leaving the heavyweight desktop environments behind. Maybe I’ll give FVWM another go in the near future. 2005-08-08 7:49 pm ma_d The article wasn’t nearly long enough. I know how complex FVWM modification can get and that article didn’t even scratch the surface. Or did I miss a next link again? 2005-08-08 7:52 pm “Saying that FVWM is an alternative to KDE or GNOME just doesn’t make any sense.” Actually, saying that makes perfect sense. Using a ‘simple’ window manager is, by definition, an alternative to using full-blown desktop envs. I think the people who use this site are smart enough to know what they’re ‘sacrificing’ when they choose to run a more light-weight environment. 2005-08-08 9:37 pm japail I would wager that they simply don’t know the difference, since switching windowmanagers has scarcely little to do in of itself with forsaking one of the major desktop environments. You don’t have to use Metacity or KWin. Conversely you can use Metacity and not make use of a desktop environment. 2005-08-08 7:52 pm I always enjoyed the speed of FVWM and even rembember back in the day when Caldera used to use FVWM95 as their Desktop WM. The thing that botheres me is how ugly its vanilla configuration is. Now I can play around with it and give it the style that I much prefer. Another nice and speeedy WM is IceWM. Jim 2005-08-08 8:22 pm Xfce started out as a module for FVWM, and for years the window manager in Xfce was a fork of FVWM. Really, I find that most of the speed of FVWM is lost, with the number of third party apps I have to run and FVWM modules, that I wind up having to build a desktop environment. Xfce does it for me, without eating my RAM alive, like Gnome or KDE do. 2005-08-08 8:23 pm Morty Back in the prehistoric times FVWM was the safe choice, but not all that attractive. FVWM95 was a step up, but there was bether choices among WM’s then too. As you said IceWM was/is nice and the same with others like WindowMaker. But my all time favorite from that era are doubtfully wm2, or more precisely wmx(You’d want virtual desktops even back then). Nice and functional and they look great too. I even used wmx for some time together with KDE 1, talk about conflicting philosophies:-) 2005-08-08 8:56 pm Beryllium What do you think ‘gtk’ is? 2005-08-08 8:58 pm Beryllium I thought it was ‘Gnome Toolkit’, but it’s ‘Gimp Toolkit’. My bad. 2005-08-08 9:08 pm We still have to manually edit config files to alter the look of a graphical desktop 2005-08-08 9:35 pm orestes I shudder at the thought of some misguided person trying to get a GUI to match the raw flexiblity of a humble, text based rc file. 2005-08-08 10:42 pm I shudder at the thought of some misguided person trying to get a GUI to match the raw flexiblity of a humble, text based rc file. As an ALTERNATIVE way of configuration for scripting and automation, yes. But HAVING to use using text files to change some simple settings of a graphical desktop like, I dunno, wallpaper picture, is stupid. Defeats the whole purpose of a GUI, actually. 2005-08-08 10:56 pm orestes No one said you had to do anything. Likewise, the world doesn’t exist to please you. If a project doesn’t meet your needs, don’t use it. It doesn’t get simpler than that. That said, I was referring to the literal act of trying to make a gui that can accomplish what a simple text file can, and the potentially disastrous results of such an action. 2005-08-09 10:54 am That said, I was referring to the literal act of trying to make a gui that can accomplish what a simple text file can, and the potentially disastrous results of such an action. I would like to submit that any item/value/list/whatever that you can configure with a text file can be easily done with a GUI. Have you got some examples of things which cannot be configured with a GUI based configuration thingy? 2005-08-09 11:48 am orestes You’re absolutely right, you could implement most anything in the rc files within a GUI. The question is can you do it without sacrificing flexibility, or worse turning it into an overly complex mishmash of controls that harms usability more than it helps? 2005-08-08 9:31 pm Lightweight and can mimic the aspect of several other managers, including the venerable CDE. And it’s 100% open source, not like that piece of shit proprietary Microseft Windows XP system. 2005-08-08 9:41 pm Um, what’s the point? There haven’t been any new and exiting developments in FVWM and there have been better posts about FVWM on OSNEW before. 2005-08-08 11:24 pm with either rox or idesk (i prefer idesk for icons) you can make your own icon configuration on the desktop… 2005-08-09 3:01 am For example, I have an old PII 350 MHz machine without a lot of RAM and am able to get great performance when running a few remote apps over the network using fvwm or twm. 2005-08-09 7:33 am You would be surprised. Try setting up WindowMaker for the computer nervous person of your choice, with just a couple of icons for programs and the instruction to doubleclick to start them. Most people, especially the less computer literate, are using their machines more like appliances and less like workstations, and all they want are the apps. All the rest, the nested menus, the unpredictable choices, the no-way-back-to-where-I-was stuff, just confuse and frighten. This is because people have the vague feeling that they can and will break it inadvertently. Just try it. The first time you get the reaction of, of course I can use this, from someone who is nervous about computers, you’ll start to revisit all your ideas about what is and is not easy to use, and for who. 2005-08-09 12:16 pm I would like to submit that any item/value/list/whatever that you can configure with a text file can be easily done with a GUI. Have you got some examples of things which cannot be configured with a GUI based configuration thingy?‘ This may be true in many cases but not FVWM. The rc for FVWM is more a kin to scripting languages than an item value config file. There was a GUI for FVWM configuration but it only allowed you to do a small subset of what was possible. Basically to do anything interesting you still had to write the config by hand and using the GUI made it harder to customize. I think the gui connfig application is abandonware now (and does not work with the current beta anyway ). 2005-08-09 12:51 pm Is it possible to compile just KWIN and not compile all of kdebase? 2005-08-09 2:37 pm What applications are you going to use with FVWM to actually do some work? Ummm…Ferret, GrADS, IDL, R, etc etc for scientific data analysis. An endless choice of scripting languages. Various C, fortran compilers for heavy processing. Latex for documentation. Firefox for browsing (or even ‘wget’ if I want to get something direct, without the gui). That’s what I use for work anyway. Did you mean work, or should the word be replaced with ‘watching of eye candy’? Or maybe there is a new job market opening up in the field of widget watching 🙂 2005-08-10 6:32 am I have succesfully run Fedora Core 4 with only Fluxbox while keeping GDM for system-config-x without using Gnome or KDE.