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Old 03-28-2004, 09:36 PM   #1
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Question Window-manager question

When installing the OS, how do you know what window manager to use??? I've bee told to install icewm, wms, twm, and I thing something called "debconf."

Better yet, does anyone know what window manager Debian recommends and/or uses by default?? Thanks in advance.

Old 03-28-2004, 10:44 PM   #2
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i think gnome and kde are pretty easy to use...they have all the bells and whistles and stuff, and if you're used to windows, this is prolly a good place for you to start, until you get the feel for linux. personally, i use fluxbox, but i would have to recommend kde for someone brand new...
Old 03-29-2004, 01:47 AM   #3
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if you want a desktop with many applications installed by default, install metacity.
you can choose gnome, kde for desktops

if you want a "light interface", fast with only few applications, choose fvwm, fluxbox, pekwm, etc...

Debian doesn't have a default window manager. You choose it, you run it. In they says it is gnome. I never used gnome on debian..
Old 03-29-2004, 02:23 AM   #4
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you can run all the gnome and kde apps under any of the interfaces, but the apps may not be set up in the menus. you can start them from a terminal in X.
Old 03-29-2004, 10:26 AM   #5
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If you install your window managers using APT, you can choose whatever one you want from your login manager. You can use kdm (from KDE), gdm (from Gnome), or xdm (from X) as a login manager. Personally, I use kdm. Install it with the command "apt-get install kdm" and answer "yes" that you want it as the default display manager. If you want to try out Fluxbox, just type "apt-get install fluxbox". Fluxbox and its dependencies will automatically be installed and a fluxbox entry will automatically be added to the list of window managers that you have available on the kdm login screen.

If you install Debian from the net, you start with a minimal install, the add everything else using APT. Therefore, there really isn't a default window manager or desktop environment. If you want kde, just type "apt-get install kde", if you want Gnome, "apt-get install gnome". Good Luck on the install!
Old 03-29-2004, 11:18 AM   #6
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ak4me, just to get some terminology straight:

display manager -- a very poorly-chosen (IMO) name for the program that presents you with a graphical login screen. Common ones are xdm, gdm, and kdm. m_yates is referring to it as a "login manager".

window manager -- runs on top of X, provides draggable windows with borders and buttons, and sometimes more. Common ones are twm, fvwm, icewm, fluxbox, metacity. This is where things get a little sticky, because WM's like icewm provide more stuff than simple ones like metacity (which are meant to work with a larger beast called a desktop manager).

desktop environment -- Gnome, KDE, Ximian. This is a window manager on steroids. It provides a (hopefully) consistent user interface to the system along with integrated apps, it's own widget set, and a bunch of other goodies.

My advice: If you don't have any Unix experience and want something easy to use, install gdm, metacity, and Gnome (though I think choosing Gnome automatically includes metacity as well). If you want a fast spartan interface and want to learn GNU/Linux, use only icewm. I personally don't like KDE -- I think it's gaudy looking and feels somewhat awkward.

debconf is something totally different -- it has to do with system configuration and you want to use it whenever possible.
Old 03-29-2004, 11:28 PM   #7
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Thank you for clarifying those definitions JohnMG. How does one know what windows manager they are using? How does one know which themes may work? Based on the windows manager or based on the desktop environment? My desktop manager is Gnome....
Old 03-30-2004, 01:32 AM   #8
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Hey Cookie -- well, besides the fact that each wm has its own distinctive default look (erm.. dunno about metacity though), you can just tell.

Also, have a look at
ls -l /etc/alternatives/x-window-manager
man x-window-manager
I don't know much about themes -- I just use whatever the icewm default is.
Old 04-01-2004, 10:33 AM   #9
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While we're on the topic of window managers:

I generally use the Gnome desktop on my RH9 box, and think it is using Metacity as the WM (as the words "Metacity Window Manager" come up while Gnome is loading ).

However, when I use VNC, I don't want Gnome coming up (at least on my current machine - it's a long story), so I've opted for a "plain" setup with a window manager. It currently loads twm, but I find this just too spartan for my taste, so I'd like to change it to another WM.

If I chose (say) fvwm for VNC purposes, could I just change "twm &" in the VNC startup script to "fvwm &", or would I need to add something else?

Many thanks,
Old 04-01-2004, 11:26 AM   #10
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there used to be a sweet website called it had loads of screenshots and themes for every window manager. i really miss it. generally a theme is made for a specific version of a window manager or range of versions. i'm still using old blackbox and love it.

i guess freshmeat bought it. now it resolves to it's not nearly as cool, but at least you can get some custom stuff that way.

Last edited by whansard; 04-01-2004 at 11:28 AM.


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