HOWTO: Install FVWM-Crystal 3.0.4 on Edgy

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I’m really, really impressed with FVWM-Crystal. It makes for an exceptionally good-looking lightweight system — even on outdated hardware.

But after knocking around the FVWM-Crystal howto here, I realized I would do much better to just start over from scratch, and see if I could settle on a better way.

For one thing, FVWM-Crystal is in the Edgy (and Feisty) repositories, but it’s version 3.0.3, and the FVWM-Crystal home page is at 3.0.4. Now for some people that’s not a big deal, but if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right. Right?

So this is from a clean server installation of Edgy, with all the extra repositories enabled and the system fully updated and upgraded. (You could start from that Edgy howto I have somewhere in this blog, stopping where the GUI is installed.)

Start by downloading some essentials.

sudo aptitude install -y xorg fvwm-crystal build-essential

That will put the X substructure into place, and configure it for you. It also puts FVWM-Crystal — and its dependencies, including XMMS and other ancillary programs — into place. And since we’re going to drop version 3.0.4 on top of it, we’ll need build-essential.

When those are done and ready, download the newest version of FVWM-Crystal from the download page, or use wget.


It’s small, so it won’t take long. Once it’s in place,

tar -xvzf fvwm-crystal-3.0.4.tar.gz

Now move into the directory it makes.

cd fvwm-crystal-3.0.4

And install it over top your existing FVWM-Crystal.

sudo make install

That’s all. Easy as pie. One last step, just so there’s no confusion:

nano -w ~/.xinitrc

Add this line to that file.

exec fvwm-crystal

From here you should install your applications and whatnot, using the usual terminal commands. FVWM-Crystal will scan for new applications on each start, and add them to its quickbar. It has a tendency to lump things in funny categories, but once you get the hang of it, it’s mighty nice.

Start up the desktop with the startx command.


P.S.: I repeated this in a more complete form on the Ubuntu Community Documentation site.


7 thoughts on “HOWTO: Install FVWM-Crystal 3.0.4 on Edgy

  1. Yu


    i followed this tutorial until i got to “nano -w .xinitrc”,

    where is that file? if there no such a file, where should i put it?

    if i do startx without doing that, it’s just the normal ugly xter.

    would you give me some hints?


  2. kmandla Post author

    Oops! Sorry Yu. That should be nano -w ~/.xinitrc. That file needs to sit in your home directory so X finds it when it starts. I’ll fix the instructions. Thanks! πŸ˜‰

  3. Pingback: Text mode heaven » Back to work

  4. colin

    Whats wrong with this sentance? “From here you should install your applications and whatnot, using the usual terminal commands.”

    And these are? The problem with alot of linux howtos is they assume you know howto do it in the first place.

    Otherwise fine πŸ˜€

  5. K.Mandla Post author

    πŸ˜€ Sorry, colin. I meant at that point, you can add the applications you want on your system.

    So as an example, you could install Abiword as a word processor with sudo aptitude install abiword. If need more help on installing programs, you should check out the Ubuntu forums. Cheers!

  6. ryall

    Any idea how to start applications when fvwm-crystal is loaded? I’ve been trying things in the preferences/Startup file but nothing happens


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