Window Maker, the Unity for Old Guys?

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, 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

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

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