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i don't get what you mean by "console as a window manager". if you're trying to run X apps w/o actually running a graphical X-server, then try looking up Xfvb. XFvb simulates a dummy framebuffer but using this obviously means you won't see a thing on screen.
Distribution: Ubuntu 11.4,DD-WRT micro plus ssh,lfs-6.6,Fedora 15,Fedora 16
strictly speaking, a window manager isn't a prerequisite for X, although without a window manager to draw windows around X programs you can't really do much, there are gui programs tha use the framebuffer console, not X, but i'm not sure what programs do this.