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DJOtaku 08-08-2005 01:28 PM

Window Managers vs Window Shell Environments
Due to the fact that some people use window manager and desktop shell interchangeably, I'm not quite sure exactly what the distinction is. For example, Gnome desktop shell used to use Enlightenment as its Window Manager. Now it uses Metacity, I think. However, I can also start Enlightenment as its own desktop shell.

So it seems that a program like Englightenment (fluxbox, etc) is different than Gnome (KDE, XFCE) because the latter can utilize the former. However, at the same time they are not so different because all of them can be used at the top level.

Gnome can use Enlightenment, but Enlightenment can't use Gnome in the same sense. (At least the way I understand things)

I've scoured the internet trying to understand exactly how this works. I haven't found anything good yet, let me know if you have knowledge of a website that explains this clearly.

(I am referring to DR 16 in all of the Enlightenment references)


Matir 08-08-2005 01:40 PM

As I understand it, there are two things you are asking about... window managers, and desktop environments.

Desktop environments usually provide taskbars, utilities, libraries, and other 'features'. They are also usually associated with a window manager.

Currently, KDE uses KWM (though nobody calls it by that), the KDE Window Manager. XFCE uses XFWM, and Gnome uses Metacity. Window managers dictate the placement of windows on the desktop, decide which windows are visible and which are not, handle overlapping and focus, and similar tasks. Window managers also provide the nifty transparency that many desktops are starting to feature.

Hope that helps to reduce confusion. :)

DJOtaku 08-08-2005 02:36 PM

I think that clarifies it. So a desktop environment is a super-set of Windows Managers. You can load into a Window Manager or a desktop environment and the second one will, generally speaking, have more candy.

Is that right?

Thanks for the quick response.

Matir 08-08-2005 02:56 PM

More or less, yes.

Note: it is possible to use alternate window managers with desktop environments. One of my friends runs e17 with gnome. I've considered moving from metacity to lumonicity (a metacity replacement with 3d and transparency and other cool features).

tuxdev 08-08-2005 03:55 PM

What I have observed is:
all WMs provide window placement, functions, transparency, etc...
standalone WMs (those that are not dependent on a DE, namely not kwm, xfwm, and metacity) provide application menus, taskbars, etc... The DE takes care of these functions for the dependent WMs.
DEs provides a full application suite and libraries to support them.

I think most people run what I call LWMDE, Light Window Manager's Desktop Enviroment. What it is is any WM combined with Firefox, Gaim, Aumix, EmelFM(my fav file manager), etc... Stuff that is not G* or K*.

Matir 08-08-2005 03:59 PM

Yes. It seems that every new version of des and wms blurs the lines between them further.

DJOtaku 08-09-2005 08:24 AM

Thanks for the responses everyone, I think that really clarifies things a lot.

craigevil 08-09-2005 12:43 PM

In graphical computing, a desktop environment (DE) offers a complete graphical user interface (GUI) solution to operate a computer. The name is derived from the desktop metaphor used by most of these interfaces. A DE provides icons, toolbars, applications, applets, and abilities like drag and drop. As a whole, the particularities of design and function of a desktop environment endow it with a distinctive look and feel.

On systems running the X Window System (typically Unix systems), the desktop environment is much more flexible. In this context, a DE typically consists of a window manager, a set of themes, and programs and libraries for managing the desktop. All of these individual modules can be exchanged and individually configured to achieve a unique combination, but most desktop environments provide a default configuration that requires minimal user input.

Well-known desktop environments examples , include GNOME, KDE, CDE and Xfce.

A window manager is software that controls the placement and appearance of application windows under the X Window System, a graphical user interface on Unix systems that enables a user to interact with a number of application programs simultaneously. Each one typically has its own independent window, and when a window manager is available, interaction between the X server and its clients is redirected through the window manager.

The user can choose between various third-party window managers, which differ from one another in several ways, including:

* customizability of appearance and functionality:
o textual menus used to start programs and/or change options
o docks and other graphical ways to start programs
o multiple desktops and virtual desktops (desktops larger than the physical monitor size), and pagers to switch between them
* consumption of memory and other system resources
* degree of integration with a desktop environment, which provides a more complete interface to the operating system, and provides a range of integrated utilities and applications.

Operating system shell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

An operating system shell is a shell for an operating system; it is a program that presents an interface to various operating system functions and services. The shell is so called because it is an outer layer of interface between the user and the innards of the operating system (the kernel).

Operating system shells generally fall into one of two categories: command line and graphical. Command line shells provide a command line interface (CLI) to the operating system, while graphical shells provide a graphical user interface (GUI).

The Linux Wikipedia is a great place to find general information.

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