AfterStep 1.3.1

Mr. Aznar tells us all about the developers' plans for a friendly window manager called AfterStep.

AfterStep 1.3.1 already includes user-friendly configuration and “look sharing”. Here are some examples of the new features already working:

  • Take your personal look file, rename it to look.your-name and post it to your friends. They can put it in desktop/looks and select it in the start menu to easily get the appearance of your desktop without losing their own menus, configuration or bindings.

  • The start menu is simply a directory in ~/gnustep/Library/AfterStep in which each subdirectory is a menu entry and each file a menu option. If you want to add Ghostview, just type:

    echo "gv &" >\

    Spaces are allowed and you can specify command-line options. When you restart AfterStep, Ghostview will be added to the start menu.

  • Backgrounds are put in the directory ~/gnustep/Library/AfterStep/desktop/backgrounds. Put the picture you want there and when you restart AfterStep, the Desktop/Backgrounds/Pictures menu will contain this option. Of course, if you select it, AfterStep will remember it for the next session, just like colors (in desktop/colors) and look files.

  • An included patched rxvt called xiterm allows pictures to be displayed in the background with Offix DnD compatibility (just like the Wharf). Select a file in xfm, drag it to xiterm, and its name will appear on the command line you're typing. It's lighter than xterm, supports color and will be more linked with AfterStep in version 1.3.2, becoming a standard part of its GUI, like title bars, Wharf and Pager. Configure-time options are made via menuconfig (just like the Linux kernel); this will also be true for future versions of AfterStep.

  • Four 2x2 pagers (that's sixteen screens, but you can configure it if you want more or less space on your desktop) with individual background pixmaps and names to allow you to use many programs at the same time (the task-list is very useful too).

  • Jump button allows you to focus on the next window by clicking on the right triangle in the right part of the title bar.

As you have learned in this article, AfterStep is strongly linked to the FVWM family but is no longer restricted to NeXT GUI emulation. Before moving to totally new concepts, we're first trying to put in all the nice features that already exist without making AfterStep hard to use. I hope you'll find 1.3.1 as simple to use as I think it is. But remember, if you think of a missing option, code it and send in the patch. With look files and other configuration files, AfterStep can turn into anything you want it to be.

Guylhem Aznar is a medical student. He likes swimming the medley, listening to rock and classical music and programming (xiterm, linuxbbs, AfterStep). He writes HOWTOs for the LDP (French and BBS) and maintains a few other HOWTOs. He can be reached at