[svlug] [RFC] Good Newbie Environment for X

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Mon Jan 7 18:55:10 PST 2002

On Mon, 7 Jan 2002 15:44:10 -0800 (PST) 
Ivan Passos <lists at cyclades.com> wrote:

> As I'm a complete newbie in X (I use Linux in text mode, as I
> mostly work with src code and I hate editing files in the small
> xterm windows -- I like the big fonts!! :)

Font size can be easily handled by setting the appropriate X
resources.  Set the choice of typeface and size to whatever you

> my first question is: what would be the most appropriate X Window
> Manager / Environment for someone like me...?

That's an unanswerable question without some more criteria.  What do
you want from a Window Manager?  What do you want from your system's
UI?  What do you want to not have/see?  What sorts of things do you
prefer?  What sorts of things do you dislike?  If you're not sure,
the best idea is to build of a list of window managers to try
(preferably quite long and wide ranging) and then work thru them
all, using each for a while and analysing what you do and don't like
about each before moving on.

A good general overview/starting point is:


FWIW my basic criteria (one of the sections of

The basic rules guiding this setup:

  -- Modal interfaces are evil.
  -- No icons will ever appear on any system I run.  

  -- Nothing ever gets dragged, nothing ever gets dropped.

  -- There will be no system controls which are bound to or only
  accessible via particular locations on the screen.

  -- Key bindings/keyboard acceleration is your friend.

  -- No Z-order limits on any controls or feature accessibility.

  -- All controls must be accessible and controllable without
  requiring prior access (such as by changing z-order or moving a
  window out of the way (BAD!)), or to any other particular window
  or X or WM widget or device.

As a result of those criteria and a few other lesser bits I use
FVWM2.  You can fund my RC here:


And screenshots here:


More recent screenshots have larger numbers (they go back several
years).  Later screenshots tend to be large (I run at res of
1920x1440).  Given your background in text mode, and because I
suspect nobody else is going to suggest them, you may also in
particular want to look into:

  PWM: http://www.students.tut.fi/~tuomov/pwm/
  ION: http://www.students.tut.fi/~tuomov/ion/

PVM enables multiple windows to be attached to the same frame by
with navigation among the windows attached to a frame via TABs.  

ION, which is derived from PWM and extends its feature sets, takes
an atypical approach to window management, where, rather than making
windows layered rectangles ala papers overlaying each other and
piled on a desk, instead sub-divides/tiles the basic desktop into
panes (ala panes in a Georgian window) with each set of application
windows occupying one of the resulting sub-divisions (they're tabbed
again, like PWM).  Kinda difficult to explain -- see the screenshots
at the above URLs for a clearer understanding.

ION and PWM are both unusually friendly to being keyboard

Note: There is an ION-like plugin for FVWM2 which adds the same
desktop-tiling approach to FVWM2:


J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?		  
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

More information about the svlug mailing list