window managers and desktop environments | Arch Linux
A window manager (WM) is the component of a system's graphical user interface (GUI). The window manager controls the appearance of an application and how it is managed: the border, titlebar, size, and ability to resize a window are handled by window managers. Many window managers provide additional functionality, such as application docking, a start menu, configuration menus etc.
A window manager (WM) is different than a full-fledged desktop environment. Window managers generally do not a complete user interface, including icons, windows, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets, which are commonly seen in desktop environments (though it is possible to add icons in a WM with another program). Because of the lack of extras, WMs are much lighter on system resources.
After installing Arch Linux, the user has a functional GNU/Linux environment, but one that is extremely bare bones. The initial interface allows users to interact with the OS via a virtual text console. This initial log-in mode is not considered a ‘graphical’ mode, and before it is possible to use programmes via graphical user interfaces (GUIs), a graphical mode must be installed and switched on.
The X Window System provides the foundation for a graphical user interface. [Xorg is a variable standard for Linux distributions] The X server initiated with the command
startx. The default windows manager program called with the ‘startx’ command is ‘twm’. The settings for this call are given in
twm & xclock –geometry 50x50-1+1 & xterm –geometry 80x50+494+51 & xterm –geometry 80x20+494-0 & exec xterm –geometry 80x66+0+0 –name login
WM are distinguished according to three rough typologies. I am still learning about the relative strengths and limitations of each.
- Stacking (aka floating) window managers provide the traditional desktop metaphor used in commercial operating systems like Windows and OSX. Windows act like pieces of paper on a desk, and can be stacked on top of each other.[For available Arch Wiki pages see Category:Stacking WMs.]
- Tiling window managers automatically organize ("tile") windows so that none overlap. They usually make very extensive use of key-bindings and have less (or no) reliance on the mouse. Tiling behaviors may be defined manual or based on predefined layouts, or both. [For available Arch Wiki pages see Category:Tiling WMs.]
- Dynamic window managers can dynamically switch between tiling or floating window layout. [For available Arch Wiki pages see Category:Dynamic WMs.]
See Comparison of Tiling Window Managers and [Wikipedia:Comparison of X window managers[(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ComparisonofXwindowmanagers) for comparison of window managers.
Fluxbox has the ability to tab windows.
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