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What exactly are all of those different desktop things I always read about? Ie. Window Maker, Sawfish, Metacity, IceWM, Fluxbox, etc? Are those the same as KDE and Gnome? My question is mainly stemming from problems with themes. Can I use Window Maker themes in Gnome etc. If someone could clear this up for me I would appreciate it.
KDE and Gnome are considered "desktop environments" which are window managers that also include integrated applications and system control applets. These are closest to what Windows is. I think the aim is to give the user the ability to control all aspects of their system from that graphic environment.
From there you can get many other "window managers" (as you can see from the list). These are more basic graphic environments. A lot of times you'll hear of people running a more simplistic WM on a slower computer since KDE and Gnome are much more graphically intense. Others simply prefer a more slimmed-down environment. Fluxbox is my personal choice. It is very fast, highly configurable (great "eye candy" themes are available), but I control and conifgure most aspoects of my system from a command line terminal. It just works best for me.
Here is a site where you can learn a bit more about some of the more popular window managers, along with screenshots so you can see what they look like.
To answer your other questions, generally you cannot use a theme that was written for one WM in another. There are exceptions to this of course. For example, Fluxbox was originally based off the code from Blackbox, so there are themes that work for both of those WMs. Also, I've seen a lot of themes for various WMs that were "inspired" by themes from another. I guess this would allow you to have one WM resemble another in that it might use the same color palette and wallpaper.
Now that I think about it. Search this site for the "post a link of your screenshot" thread, as it will show you literally thousands of users' desktops. It's really up to personal preference as to which one works best for you.
Flux is not an IDE. Sawfish is the window manager for the Gnome IDE. Compatibility depends on the proximity of source code and the efforts taken to make them compatible. Lots of wm's support a dock or wharf or slit or whatever they call it that handles wm-like dockapps. Blackbox and fluxbox can - or could - share themes. Some gnome apps will run with some wm's and some need special flags saying 'this isn't gnome you're running on'. It all just depends. Window managers manage windows and IDE provide special toolbars, configuration tools, other apps, etc. Like gedit is the 'gnome text editor'. There's no such thing as the 'fluxbox text editor'. But you can use gedit on flux if you've got the right gnome libraries that gedit calls on.
KDE and Gnome are full blown Linux desktops with tons of their own apps.
Something like ICE is a lighter version of a familar desktop environment.
Blackbox/fluxbox are very lightweight and more suited to someone that knows what they want and how to get it.
If you have a major distro, load those on and see what you think.
Oh, oops. I think actually Gnome replaced sawfish with metacity. I might be wrong. Gnome's like this whole apparatus, one part of which is a window manager. I think you can run another window manager in place of metacity/sawfish, whatever. And another part of Gnome is the bars and whatnot. You can actually run - well, like once I was screwing around with nautilus on flux (don't ask me why) and the toolbars and menus and everything came up. *g* I had to check out the docs on nautilus to run 'nautilus --no-desktop' or some such. But as far as running two wm's at the same time, no you can't do that unless you get into xnest or some such - kind of like running dos in a dosemu-box, you can run another desktop in a box under certain circumstances. Basically, a wm is a component of a desktop, but is the only component you really need.
The X server provides the graphics, protocols, widgets. The window manager draws the windows and provides the windowing controls such as close, maximize, etc. The IDE uses X and a wm to do all that and provides desktop icons and toolbars and configurations tools and specialized apps and so on. You can only run one server on one screen, and only one wm on one server, and only one IDE on top of one wm. But you can open another display on a terminal you can access by Ctrl-Alt-F8, or you can open another server etc. inside a box.
So Gnome, KDE, etc. Those are your main desktop enviornments. Just the 'program' if you will of what actually makes X work. Then you have a seperate program that actually handles what your windows, etc. look like? Like how you panels, windows, etc. actually look like?
So, me for instance. I am running RedHat 9.0 w/ Gnome 2.4 and the metacity windows manager? With metacity, I get certain themes and looks. But I can remove metacity, and install WindowManger, and have different themes, panels, etc?
Yeah, if you're asking "Can I install WindowMaker and use it instead of Gnome?", then sure. It's a tarball or tgz or rpm or whatever - an app - like others, and you can switch them around. And, yeah, each has a different look and feel. Each is generally themeable, itself, so that one person's gnome may look completely different from anothers', but the underlying structure of having their windows-registry-like config files and GUI interface and things like that will still be there. Whereas with another window manager you might have a handful of text files rather than hierarchies of xml. The reason gnome and kde get so much play is that they're in the 'alternative to Windows' market - but Windows users are supposed to feel comfortable with them. Whereas window managers descend from plain *nix like twm and basically say 'Just give me my apps in a box'. But they're all essentially graphical interfaces.
Only thing is, I wouldn't say "Just the 'program' if you will of what actually makes X work." - more like X is what enables them to work. If you try to launch a wm or an ide without a screen, you get 'screen not found' and get dumped back to the command line, whereas you can launch X without a wm and get the black-and-gray speckles. *g* Or just have an xterm as your whole deal - launch apps out of it and let them land where they may and kill them internally. (I think - I've never really tried to run a full session like that.) But, yeah, they're just programs that provide the graphical containers for your graphical apps and you can use whichever you want. Ratpoison practically *is* just running 'screen' in X, and the *boxes are just a right-click menu and maybe a toolbar (but with lots of non-obvious but powerful controls) and then there are your lightweights like XFCE which give you toolbars and special apps like xfdiff and so on, and then the fullblown Gnomes and KDEs. It's a spectrum. You should have a few already on your system unless you explicitly rejected installing them. Not sure how RH handles it, but there's probably an option in gnome itself to fire up a different window manager/IDE, so you could try some of those out. You don't have to uninstall one to use another - just change the default that X loads up, or exit one and start another.
When you run Gnome, you also run a window manager. A window manager is required to have a usable graphical environment - it adds decorations to windows (like the border, the upper title bar, buttons in the corners, resizing windows...that kind of stuff). When you run Gnome you also run a window manager - in most cases I believe it is Metacity nowadays. In the control panel (or whatever it's called in Gnome) you should be able to choose other window managers, if installed.
It's been a while since I used Gnome but I think I recall that you can use Windowmaker as Gnome's window manager. However, it is more common to only run Windowmaker, without the Gnome Panel.
I think the default window manager for KDE is kwm, but you could use Fluxbox or something else instead, and still have the functionality KDE provides, like a panel, desktop icons and so on.
On a single display you can't run more than one of each class and you can't run 3 without 1 & 2 or 2 without 1. Beyond that, you can often mix and match and do what you want. So if you want Gnome's wm to be WindowMaker, give it a shot.
Originally posted by SuSE_Surfer But in fact it is its own entity? I run either Gnome OR Window Maker?
Yes, and no. You can in fact run WindowMaker under GNOME (by changing from the default Metacity WM to WindowMaker). However, you can also run WindowMaker independent of GNOME. I personally run WindowMaker without running GNOME, because it strikes me as a little faster.
That clears it up. That was my main question, and that was the simpe answer I was looking for! I guess I just wasn't wording my question correctly. I guess I will have to start another thread on getting WindowMaker to work. I installed it, but it didn't show up in my menu under 'session' selection, nor was I able to switch to it using 'switchdesk'