Windowmaker takes the back seat … again

I mentioned dvtm a day ago, extolling its amazing wonderfulness as a sort of tiling window manager for the console. At the same time I installed dvtm I also installed Windowmaker because I found a cool tutorial about making Windowmaker into something usable, and not quite so … gecch.

Windowmaker has always been the redheaded step-child of my Linux desktop experience. I’ve dabbled in a lot of other WMs — Openbox will always be my favorite; Fluxbox is okay, but somehow too over-the-top; FVWM held my interest for a while, when I found the Crystal version; and so forth — but Windowmaker has the ignominous label of being the one that was just too … unusual to grab my interest long enough to figure out how to make it look good.

Which is a shame, I guess. Some of the screenshots in the tutorial seem to transplant it out of 1995 and fast-forward it about 15 years and make it fairly attractive, especially to someone like me, who seems somehow obsessed with the obscure, lightweight side of the fence. And considering my personal experiences with old Sun machines and early desktop systems, 20-plus years ago, I should really pursue that one a little harder.

But the sad fact is, dvtm has captured my imagination now, and that means once again, Windowmaker seems to be sidelined. I spent an hour or so last night scraping the Intarnets for the kernel boot line code for a 16-bit, 1600×1200 framebuffer (it’s 0×346, if you’re wondering) just so I could get a screenshot with fbgrab. It’s sad, but the prospect of building a clean and attractive Windowmaker desktop isn’t as exciting as slimming down my Arch system to duck under 20Mb with dvtm.

And this is what it looks like, although I didn’t quite tuck under that 20Mb number I wanted. 23Mb is sufficient.

Thanks, Dawn. ;)

Anyways, I suppose if I ever lose my enthusiasm for dvtm, I might start delving into Windowmaker properly. But the problem with back-burner projects like that is, their orbits are so far off center and so long in returning, that saying “maybe next time” unfortunately — usually — turns into “never.” :(

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8 Responses to “Windowmaker takes the back seat … again”


  1. 1 darkstar 2009/03/04 at 10:07 AM

    That’s a sad fact for many of us :( There’s just too many software projects out there to go through all of them.

  2. 2 Nergui 2009/03/07 at 6:33 AM

    I still have great difficulty letting go of WindowMaker, despite it having no significant updates for over 4 years, during which the website had all of 2 updates promising a revival of development “really soon” (the last one was around 7 or 8 months ago, and there hasn’t been a peep since).

    In spite of the fact that it’s compatibility issues gradually multiply as the rest of the OpenDesktop community moves on, I can’t seem to find any other wm I like better. I’ve had my curiosity piqued by Openbox, E17, FVWM, XFCE4, and most recently Awesome, due to our host (I intend to give it a serious try soon)… these are all quite nice, but for me WindowMaker is the best compromise between them right now. It’s not as minimal as Openbox (though you can make it pretty close, as you can turn most features off if you want), but it doesn’t have the animated bling of E17. The few animations it does have (all optional) are fast and often pretty useful. Most of the themes for it look horribly outdated, which I’m sure turns most people off of it, if they even hear about it at all. But the framework is there to make your own themes extremely easily. I posted one to box-look, and I hope to post more in the future. You really can make it look very nice.

    I know it’s a different paradigm from tiling/console interfaces, but it can be set up to have a lot of overlap in functionality. Like Openbox, it can be almost entirely keyboard-controlled, with easily customizable shortcuts. Unlike Openbox, it has pinnable menus, enabling you to launch several apps or scripts in quick succession. It has customizable menus somewhat similar to Openbox, and any menu entry– whether it points to an application or a custom script– can be assigned its own kb shortcut.

    It does have some issues like anything else, but to me they pale next to the overall benefit of the most efficient and comfortable computer interface I’ve used to date. If I had any serious programming skills, I’d be tempted to fork the project just to keep it alive. It’s a real shame to watch it languish.

    • 3 K.Mandla 2009/03/07 at 7:48 AM

      There have to be more Windowmaker enthusiasts out there with the same opinion, aren’t there? A fork would be interesting, and if the situation is as you describe it, worth pursuing.

  3. 4 Fat Pat 2009/03/08 at 5:06 AM

    On Windowmaker…the website hasn’t been updated since the initial
    ‘devel resumption’ blurb….but if you check the dev mailing lists…..there’s actually been quite a bit of posting there etc.
    Not sure why they haven’t brought the defacto *.info site up to speed.

  4. 5 NillyWilly 2009/03/17 at 8:31 PM

    “I spent an hour or so last night scraping the Intarnets for the kernel boot line code for a 16-bit, 1600×1200 framebuffer (it’s 0×346, if you’re wondering”

    … ever tried

    hwinfo –framebuffer

    ? ;)

  5. 6 LaecySnr 2009/04/01 at 10:10 PM

    I’ve always thought it a great shame that WindowMaker has been pretty much discontinued.

    It really is a great WM, a few updates here and there would be nice but it’s still lightning fast and very cool to look at.

  6. 7 Cman 2009/04/19 at 9:35 PM

    After months of tweaking compiz-fusion and all of its uber eye candy. I for some reason had to all back on a light and functional desktop (o yeah to play games in wine)… And again I fired up wmaker, looked at it and sensed its potential. It’s taken me several months to get that just right feel from it, but… its just right is so right. Fast, minimal, clean, efficient, attractive… too bad it can’t be used with compiz… but truth told, after configuring it to my liking, I can’t find anything else to move on too… It is just too clean.

  7. 8 GR 2010/01/05 at 4:59 AM

    Yes Cman I tried like you and had to go back to WM. In fact I never realized how outdated my computer was until trying a modern desktop. Even with my 11 year old gx110(800mgz 256ram) everything works perfect!
    So now after purchasing a new computer 3.2Ghz 1000G-ram, still there is no reason to use anything but WMaker, it is a blazing fast desktop on this new system and every micro-cock friend of mine says wow that neat….


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