Window Maker, the Unity for Old Guys?

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As I was diving back into Window Maker for this article, it occurred to me that the desktop manager I used for years with Debian is disturbingly similar to the Unity Desktop. It's been clear since its inception that I am not a fan of Ubuntu's new Unity interface, yet it's odd that for years I loved Window Maker, which seems fairly similar, at least visually.

After a little bit of usage, however, I quickly remembered why Window Maker was my desktop of choice for many years. Yes, it has the "side dock" look and feel, but it's far, far more customizable (Figure 1). The dockapps can launch applications, certainly, but they also can be applications (widgets?) themselves, providing interaction and feedback instead of just eye candy.

Figure 1. Window Maker is very customizable (screenshot from ).

The Window Maker Live CD actually is a great way to install Debian too. If you've never experienced Window Maker firsthand, I urge you to download the ISO file from http://wmlive.sourceforge.net, and give the live CD a try. If you like it, it's certainly easy to install the full Debian system directly from the CD (Figure 2). Window Maker is a low-resource, awesome desktop environment that's worth checking out, at least for a weekend project.

Figure 2. Window Maker installs the full Debian system directly from CD (screenshot from http://wmlive.sourceforge.net).

______________________

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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Interesting

Alexcarter's picture

I downloaded and tried window maker. It is not user-friendly. But however it is interesting to learn and Do

I dont get it

meow@linux.cn's picture

I just don't get it why there are people who use a desktop environment can stand that it has a terribly ugly interface. A modern DE like KDE is not only as highly flexible as some ancient, geeky ones (you can customize KDE almost whatever you want), but also has a gorgeous appearance.
In my opinion, as you are using Linux, you are not just using it, you are advertising it. When other folks who don't know a thing about Linux saw your desktop with such a horror face, I bet they would think they should stay the hell away from that shit, but with one like KDE, they might actuality think they could give a try on it (and eventually be fascinated by how wonderful and powerful Linux can be).
Satisfying yourself with customization and eye candy, and attracting potential Linux users, what a win-win.

I just don't get it why there

meow@linux.cn's picture

I just don't get it why there are people who use a desktop environment can stand that it has a terribly ugly interface. A modern DE like KDE is not only as highly flexible as some ancient, geeky ones (you can customize KDE almost whatever you want), but also has a gorgeous appearance.
In my opinion, as you are using Linux, you are not just using it, you are advertising it. When other folks who don't know a thing about Linux saw your desktop with such a horror face, I bet they would think they should stay the hell away from that shit, but with one like KDE, they might actuality think they could give a try on it (and eventually be fascinated by how wonderful and powerful Linux can be).
Satisfying yourself with customization and eye candy, and attracting potential Linux users, what a win-win.

Sounds Great...

iOS 7 Download's picture

I was running out of projects in my house for weekend, and there comes you with lots of interesting pile for me to check later this weekend. I have been planning to download latest iOS 7 for my iPhone to test, but now I have altered my plans to check out this old thing.

While I don't feel as

KF's picture

While I don't feel as strongly, I do mostly agree with the first comment. Most of this article seems to be done to a pretty low standard, the missing screenshot link, the unsupported (by the article) claims of "low-resource" and "awesome", etc.

And while I empathize with the comments that old-looking doesn't necessarily mean bad, there are much better-looking low-resource windows managers out there these days. So I'm not sure WM is even meaningfully relevant.

Windowmaker lover here

rustybutt's picture

I've been using Windowmaker for about 10 years now. Got introduced by a BSD freak I know. Being able to customize it is much more valuable than it sounds. You launch apps from the doc, from the customizable menu, or by command line if you're hardcore. I use the menu feature a great deal. I can launch clusterssh from a menu option and login to 60 machines here all at once. Makes checking stuff and changes Real Fast.

If you want a windowing system that you can make do whatever you want it to, is fast, runs on anything and enables you to get work done, you really want to take a look at Windowmaker. Double-click on a window top bar and the window rolls up, out of your way. Double-click again and it rolls down. Hot keys are readily customizable as well. Fast, fast, fast.

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Dock Apps

Elder-geek's picture

Dock Apps are better than ever. With monitors having a much wider display width the 68 to 70 pixels in width that a dock app takes up is nothing at all.

I run fluxbox. And I always have at least 4 or 5 dock apps running. I run mine down the right hand side of the display. As an added bonus wbar fits in the lower half of the screen.

A sample of which can be found at http://bayimg.com/aaOoiaaEL

wallpaper

Greg Laden's picture

That is some great wallpaper

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I'm not usually overly critical, but did you really mean to show off *that* wallpaper?

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Anonymous's picture

And for those of us whose first language is English?

Funny comments

Fri13's picture

It is funny when someone say "The screenshot looks like something from 20 years ago." as Window Maker looks like that today. It does not have blings and transparency everywhere with gradients and shadows etc.

And article was short but not a bad one. It was good teaser for those kids to remind that Canonical has not invented anything or done anything special in GUI side (In Short: WindowMaker cloned NeXT years back).

And low resource, awesome etc are not unsupported, as they are known to be linked with it. :D

Review of Windowmaker article

Biffster's picture

I think that the poster who chose to make anonymous remarks went way overboard, but does have a point: there's practically no information in this article. There should've been more content, more context for the screenshots, more data about what the reviewer likes about Windowmaker, whether wm is viable in today's world, what it can do, etc.

Anonymous, surely you realize that wm is going to show a lot of age nowadays...

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Anonymous's picture

Thanks for one of the worst articles ever in Linux Journal. The screenshot attribution is missing. The screenshot looks like something from 20 years ago. There's maybe 1 interesting feature mentioned about Window Maker (live dockapp applications/"widgets?"), but no examples of that feature? Then some completely unsupported claims ("low-resource", "awesome") to round out this in-depth article.

I'd have to guess that your editor have to 10 minutes to write an article about "Window Maker", something you'd never heard of before. Hopefully they didn't pay you for this crap.

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