In the X Window System, the X Server itself does not give the user the capability of managing windows that have been opened. Instead, this job is delegated to a program called a window manager.
The window manager gives windows a border and allows you to move them around and maximize/minimize them. The user interface for these functions is left up to its author.
This proves to be quite confusing for the new user of a X windowing environment because most other environments simply use one window manager and give the user no choice. In this sense, X is much more versatile and allows more tailoring of the environment to whatever the user wants. It allows the creation of an xterminal, a diskless workstation which runs only an X server (out of ROM) and leaves all user interface implementation to a central compute server.
The most commonly used Linux window managers are:
Fvwm http://www.fvwm.org/ (an old but useful window manager - still in constant development!)
IceWM is a small, fast, lightweight WindowManager designed to resemble Microsoft Windows.
It provides basic, standards compliant window management and a TaskBar.
- It is very configurable, with many options. So many, in fact, that dispite several attempts, there is no good, intuitive configuration program for it.
- IceWM is also extremely themable, supporting rounded corners, pixmaps, and many amazingly ugly themes.
- KWin / Kwm (The window manager used for the KDE desktop)
- Twm (an old window manager dating back to the beginnings of X Window)
Other WMs include:
- AmiWM (Amiga Lookalike)
Tiling Window managers
Tiling window managers arrange application windows into various grid layouts, often in a manner which displays all of the windows seamlessly without overlapping. Debian provides packages for several popular tiling window managers, including:
Other tiling window managers, which can be built from source, include:
See x-window-manager packages descriptions If you use startx rather than a login manager, you'll probably want to choose a default Window Manager. To change the default window manager use
update-alternatives --config x-window-manager
( See update-alternatives manpage).
Window Managers must not be confused with Desktop Environments such as GNOME, KDE, Xfce. These three environments use a window manager as a single part of a much larger system. And to make things much more complicated, GNOME doesn't force you to use any one window manager. They have a list of "supported" window managers that you can choose from.
Afterstep should be mentioned - (and fvwm is actually fvwm2 whereas fvwm1 already had/has lots of "functionality" and lives on a smaller foot-print)
http://xwinman.org/ for a more comprehensive list of window managers for X.