How did you end up with Fvwm?

We can presume that everybody here uses Fvwm, either as a stand alone wm or in combination with Gnome, KDE or others.

What we don’t know is why everybody uses Fvwm or how you got to know Fvwm in the first place.

So I’ll start this off with my own story (sounds like the intro of a movie, doesn’t it? :laughing: )

I first used Fvwm on my very first Linux distro (RedHat6.0), that was the fvwm95 flavor and I didn’t like it, I switched back to Gnome 1.4 (which was the default then), but as that was too heavy for my box I switched again, this time to Enlightenment on it’s own, but that still was more than my box (at that time a p120 with 16MB or RAM) could handle so I ended with WindowMaker.

When I got my hands on a faster pc I tried Gnome (the 2.0 beta) again, but faster still wasn’t fast enough, but I used Gnome long enough to know that I didn’t like it. In the end I ended again with my first love: Enlightenment. But soon I started bumping into it’s limits, so I started searching for something else.

And then I remembered an old Linux Journal with an article about window managers in it, found the part about Fvwm and thought “I really gotta try this one”. But exams neared and I put the “project” of because it seemed like an awful lot of work to do and I didn’t know where to start.

When I found taviso’s legendary post on the Gentoo forums I got persuaded to give Fvwm another try (third time good time :wink: ). taviso’s config was a lot more basic back then than it is now and I started modifying it, figured that if I wanted to know how it all worked I’d have to build my config from scratch, which is what I did :slight_smile:

Well, that’s basically how I got here :slight_smile:

I used KDE 3.? when I started with Linux (my actual Suse 9.0 distro). But I have a slow box (PIII 300 with 128 MB Ram) so I changed to WindowMaker. I like it, but it wasn’t the perfect thing…
My professor use Fvwm on the maschins in the IT-labor and we have to work with them. The Pager was to small for my “programming style” so I looked up the net for help. On this way, I get touched with the flexibility of fvwm and I descieded to try it out…since them (some time befor x-mas) I use Fvwm and now trying to configure it “rigth”. (from the scratch, too.)


It is hard now to think back and remember…

I am always on the prowl for the new hot and now software. Back then I was using waimea for the same reasons many of us use small WM…it is not kde/gnome and uses less resources. I was finally getting into the swing of things when I came upon a screenshot of Fvwm: This one i think. And I remember getting excited to see a WM that was not KDE or Gnome that had mini icons in the menus. You see II am an eye candy freak and just need things like this. So I made a request to the waimea developer and he told me that he was working on it and soon after that he sorta disappeared.

So now I am back on the prowl for something different and Fvwm came up again in the form of Suzanne Skinner but when i started fvwm it just was too ugly…I thought to myself, there is no way that I am going to understand all of this and 2 make it my own and pretty. Two days after that the “legendary post” of Tavis O came about and things just snowballed from there. I spent weeks on the Man pages, and different screenshots until I found a config similar to what I wanted. After that I managed to learn a few things and got better understanding of the what Fvwm. Even after a year I am still learning and finding ways of tweaking my system via the efforts of other fantastic Fvwm users. I think that is why I am still using it.

Since I’m relatively new to linux, my story is a bit shorter.

One day I instalkled Red Hat 8, I think… Either gnome or KDE, i forget which… blegh. Didn’t like how it felt too much like windows, and it had some issues (i think one of the CD’s was bad) so I went back to my highly tweaked WinXp install. A few weeks later I tried gentoo after about 3 days of no progress on gentoo, I finally get it installed. That was fun. I fianlly found want i was looking for, but thats another story. Anyway I first used twm, untill I installed windowmaker. I eventually moved over to blackbox, then fluxbox. I stayed with flux for about… 5 months. I saw fvwm on gentoo forums and tried it out… the default config made my eyes bleed, but I stuck with it and in a few hours I had a nice start. I first made it look as similar to fluxbox and similar in operation (still does for the most part… the look is loosely based on OS X Aqua). I haven’t looked back. I have tried others, and I keep fluxbox around, but fvwm is my favorite. I would only swap if I find one that I can configure even more.

Well, I was a long-time iceWM user. I switched to KDE at version 3.1, but grew tired of the, er, extensive features. :smiley:

I fiddled with Fvwm on and off for a while over the years and finally came to realize that it was just what I wanted in a window manager.

Now there’s a question! I’d have to think back a bit to that. It was probably around 1997 or so that I first used Fvwm. For a whole year prior to that, I used twm, since I assumed that’s all there was. :slight_smile:

This was with RedHat 4. After I managed to break free of the twm jailhouse, I managed to work out how to change window managers. I jumped to this thing called KDE (version 1 or so), but on a P166 with 32MB RAM, that dog didn’t hunt, so I switched again – this time to using “AnotherLevel”.

AnotherLevel won the RH Desktop contest. You can see a screenshot of it here:

It consisted of those blocky borders, grey/green colorsets and grey background, all using M4 to preprocess commands. I loved it. I really did. And what’s more on a P166, it flew. It was fast.

And that is how I started and henceforth stuck with Fvwm. I had tweaked and proded the AnotherlLevel M4 macros to death, and it has since to this day gotten to the point where they no longer exist, as I wrote my own.

I did change distros since then, and hence transferred all of my configs over.

I know I must be weird, liking the “old style” – but it is just my preference. I love it. :slight_smile:


– Thomas Adam

First time on slackware with Fvwm95. At that time had no idea what wm was. Played around it until got some player worked to play mp3. Before giving up Linux, tried Enlightenment.

After a couple of years installed a redhat with KDEx. Pleased with the first appearence but soon bored with the useless extras. Went back to Enlightenment. and after a while, went back to Windows again.

Started use FreeBSD4.3 some years back. From the handbook knows what wm was. Installed KDE and GNOME. Then started to look for a lightweight wm.
First was xfce for a while. Then Windowmaker and icewm for a longer time. Then Fluxbox for almost a year.

Even tried some ION.

Finally, installed fvwm2 and suddenly, I remembered that this is the FIRST wm I used!! Just like after spended so many years on so many relationships and suddenly, one day met the first girl and she is still so beautiful and perfect match.

Sticked with it and am feeling better and better.

I’ve been hunting “the right WM for me” for quite a long time. It is difficult to remember the exact steps how I ended up with fvwm, but as with many of you, I too peeked once in a while at fvwm along the path, seeing it was plain ugly everytime (and didn’t have but 2 themes in!).

The first WM that really hit me with it’s configurability was sawfish. I’m talking about the gtk1 -series, which had oh, so many cool features, and configurability beyond imagination (you could build up themes with a GUI, for example). I made many cool themes for it back then exploiting the “shape” you could give window borders (I was insipired by the legendary Batman theme hopefully still found somewhere). But really getting deep with it demanded the ability to read lisp-code, which isn’t the easiest around to comprehend quickly. Also, the IMO bad direction the sawfish development team took, made me back away from it (I think we are seeing the exact same direction with new releases of gnome and, unfortunately, gimp :frowning: )

After the light of sawfish, I wondered endlessly in the darkness without finding the cuddly soft WM of my dreams. Along this path was windowmaker, waimea, all the boxes (open-/flux-/black-), golem (this one I liked, but it was buggy), enlightenment, ratpoison, ion… In fact I think I tried every single WM you can find from the ports-tree! in the low state I was in, which was comparable to needle-junkies, I even used Gnome and KDE!

Waking up from that horror, I at one time thought to replace my server OS with OpenBSD. I installed it first on my desktop machine, and found out it came with fvwm1 configured as default WM. That gave me some thoughts, and I installed fvwm on my server and started looking for themes for it. I stumbled upon fvwm-themes -package which basically gave me the impression that “Hey, this thing is actually quite configurable”, so I started to read manpages. A lot. So here I am, the empty spot of WM of my dreams filled with fvwm :smiley:

I started with linux using RedHat 7.2 and alternating between gnome and kde. I had some performance problems with my poor old P266 machine, and after reading everything I could find about optimising my setup, came across afterstep. installed a few themes, played about until I found a setup I liked and all was well with the world.

Move on a coupe of years: I’m running Gentoo on an upto date box. My taskbar keeps crashing, the latest afterstep release has just gone rc1 and I don’t like it.

Then I came across taviso and his mammoth FVWM thread on the gentoo fora. I’d looked at it briefly in the past and decided it was too much like hard work. But I didn’t like the direction afterstep seemed to be going in, or the speed at which it was getting there. It’s not their fault - they only have one developer - and FVWM is still (still, after all this time!) in active development and that was another powerful convincer.

So I swtiched, and set about re-creating my old AS setup using FVWM. I’ve tried enlightenment and wasn’t much impressed. Gnome and KDE use too many resources for my liking, and I’ve not been grabbed by the *boxes or XFCE. It looks like I’m here for the long haul.

It’s an interesting time for FVWM, I think. KDE and Gnome are suffering a bit from the MS problem of running perfectly on next year’s machine, but never on the one on my desk. I think we could be due for a resurgence of interest in lightweight WMs in general. With its immense flexibility, and given some of the mad cool configurations people have been desiging recently, FVWM could do well out of that.

And before I drift too far off topic…

It has always been that way, though. From the outset KDE was always going to be heavy-weight, it was almost a given, based on the sheer size and scope of what the overall aim of it was.

Let’s not forget that for years, RH used Fvwm as the de facto window manager – in terms of RH releases prior to the community driven project Fedora, it was only vary recently that they switched to using GNOME as the default DE.

But in so doing, I think that this is part of KDE’s and GNOME’s downfall. Because they have been the default DE for a number of leading commercial distros, people perhaps don’t release that there are other alternatives exist – especially if they are converting from Windows, say. But to go back to my original point, if KDE and GNOME were (are?) being used as the forefront of Linux desktop technology, then the developers are bound to have to keep up with the latest and greatest, flashiest means of making things look pretty… But there is always an inherent cost associated with that – if, as you say, one doesn’t have tomorrows technology, then forget it. That dog just won’t hunt.

And it’s a shame, really. I used KDE 1.X before switching to FVWM, and I have to say that for all its sins now, KDE 1.X was useable, and quite lightweight – even on my P166, it was fast. But out came KDE2, and it was a joke. A P400 (new at the time) woulld slog along on it.

People complain that Fvwm looks ugly – but perhaps that’s the whole point – it’s only “ugly” in the default instance because the design of it is such that it’s down to you to do it yourself. I suppose we should be lucky that we get a default setup at all… :slight_smile: But with the work of a lot of people to reflect the current trend of tastes [1] it will, and indeed, has shown people what can be achieved, the look and feel of everything one has come to expect from a DE, but at half the cost of the sluggishness… It’s not a crucade, nor is at an enforcement, but I do all of this in the hope that Fvwm will make someone’s computer a litttle more fun. After all, it is the best WM going – it’s proved that much for being over ten years old and still in active development.

– Thomas Adam

[1] I should point out I am not such a person – my tastes are very archaic

In keeping with the “one topic per thread” policy, I’ve started a new thread following on from this

one word: theBlackDragon
…in other words: taviso

I’d been looking at fvwm previously but never bothered to try it because of all ugly screenshots I’d found. This post made me realise how customizable fvwm was and it didn’t take long before I unmerged fluxbox…

Long version: My first distro was a discontinued outdated thing I shoved onto a P100. It booted me into KDE 1.x by default and I played with it for awhile but basically hated it. But I couldn’t get any new packages or get much of anything to compile. So I ran ratpoison for a bit since it would build. :smiling_imp:

Then I switched to blackbox and used that for a good stretch. Even when I got a current distro on a reasonably powerful machine and could do anything I wanted, I just ended up using fluxbox for an even longer stretch. Finally, I tired of flux 0.1.x’s limitations and disliked flux 0.9.x’s flakiness and, IMO, un-box-like development. I’d tried an old version of ice on a floppy distro when I shoved a few of those on a 486 and disliked it but, looking for something to replace flux, I tried ice again and had an entirely different reaction. So I switched to it and I’ve used that longer than anything.

(Along the way, I’ve tried dozens of other wms and I also think pekwm is great, though it’s always been second fiddle to ice. I also had, um, ‘fun’ with configuring twm and ctwm for awhile, which makes configuring fvwm somewhat familiar if not any easier.)

Eventually, the wanderlust struck again and little things like the hardcoded bottom section of ice’s menu got to bugging me. :wink: Now I’ll combine the long and short versions:

I was looking through the files in my Slack-current tree to remind myself about what I’d have to choose from if I didn’t compile my own wm and said to myself:

windowmaker-0.91.0-i486-1.tgz - tried it; hated it; tried it several more times, still hated it every time.

xfce-4.2.2-i486-1.tgz - worst of both worlds: all the problems of DEs with none of the virtues of WMs.

blackbox-0.65.0-i386-1.tgz - really been there; really done that. (Tried 0.70 recently and it’s nice in a way but still couldn’t pull me back.)

fluxbox-0.9.12-i486-1.tgz - ditto.

fvwm-2.4.19-i486-4.tgz - huh. I tried this a time or two before and it was the ugliest damn thing I ever saw and weird but I never gave it an honest shot. Let’s try again… Let’s get the devel version - 2.5.12 - and compile it (even though this was originally a ‘no compile’ question). Yep, as godawfully ugly as I remembered. And damn this is a pain to configure. But this is pretty cool. And this. And this. And… wow, this is great!

So that’s how I ended up with fvwm. :slight_smile:

I first tried fvwm on Solaris 2.6 on sparc, but finally, I preferred to use twm because it was really installed everywere, and because it was more stable (maybe sysadmins provided a bad version). At this time, I was looking for a fast and lightweight wm.

After, I bought a ultra portable laptop with 800x480 resolution, and it would not display all xfig buttons. I used fvwm for its multiple desktop, which can scroll by 10% of the screen when go through the edges, not to have multiple desktops (I never used that), but windows wider than the screen itself. I didnt wanted to used Virtual option of XFree86 since, it could not be changed without restarting the server

Afterwards, what I wanted is a wm which does not waste space. When fvwm 2.5 was released, there were an option to have titlebar at left and not on top of window (as flwm or wmx did), and as screens are wider that high, it was better. Moreover, its look were more customizable, with gradient title. Now, I completely removed the title, and add all the “close, resize, etc…” functions to borders (with only one button as I use an apple mouse).

Hence, what I really enjoy in fvwm is the only wm that

  • is highly configurable and scriptable (try to ask any other wm, even twm, that clicking the NE corner close the window, unless it is a mousedrag which resizes it)
  • respects ICCCM 2.0 and EWMH and plays well with gnome/kde/… apps
  • can be passed commands during execution using scripts

When I first tried linux about 8 years ago, I tried Mandrake, and man it looked like crap. I think it was gnome, but to me it looked like a poor version of the mac. I dropped linux for a few years.

I tried it again, but same distro. Understood it better, but still didn’t understand that linux is not the same as its gui.

I picked up Red Hat around 2001, and it was better, but still not there. I’m not sure what they were using at that time. I dropped linux again for a while.

About 2003, I tried Slackware out. I’m so glad I came across it. I’d heard it aimed to keep to the original mission of linux (whatever that is), and for the first time I learned what linux was about: getting your fingers dirty and really learning about your machine so you can do exactly what you want with it (and getting lots of professional grade free software). By this time I’d heard that Gnome and KDE were the big contenders, so I tried KDE. Another good choice–this didn’t look like an uncertain Disneyland. I’ve still got that running on my laptop.

In 2004 I entered a comp sci program, and gentoo was the rage. It was almost impossible to do anything useful in the department w/o linux, and they helped people to learn much more. The school itself used Debian w/ a choice of KDE, Gnome, Fluxbox, Windowmaker, IceWM, and maybe another. I used KDE, and it worked fine for me.

At home, though, I worked with Gentoo, and people in the forums were raving about fvwm as well. I was interested to hear about window managers like WindowMaker and FVWM that were very lightweight and customizable, running lightning fast. I was fortunate to come across a good .fvwm2rc file, and with a few tweaks, I had a beautiful, fast desktop. I soon learned about transparency, swallowing apps, buttons, the ability to customize all sorts of events with the mouse, your own menubars, icons etc.

I hadn’t been interested in doing much more since I had things very simple and to my liking, but lately, with a new comp, I’m excited to learn more about fvwm and how to script and configure things more. I did a quick look around the net to compare the different wm’s, and for what I want, none of the others begin to compare.

I have nothing better to do today, so I will tell you my story as well :slight_smile:

My beginnings in Fvwm was not so good. I really hated that 95-ish look of some kind of strange window manager that someone gave me to make a bit more functional my X-session on the shell account of my university. That was around 1996/1997 or so. I never liked the Windows 95 interface, but, well, TWM was not so functional (amongst many other problems). That was on Solaris based machines.

In that time I was used to KDE (which performance was degrading on huge steps) and Window Maker (that I liked the most, because it was light and I really felt comfortable with it’s applets.

I started using it and never felt interested about diggin on its internals, I did not even know that that 95-like thing was based on FVWM (I saw before the classic pink fvwm and, well, I did not realise that both were really the same window manager with just different configs and a few patches).

Years passed ant I passed thru Gnome (that never liked either, and whose file dialogs I hate like the hell), E, WIndowMaker again, and finally Fluxbox. Flux was fine but I was missing something more configurable (Flux is too simple). Then I started to use kde-3.0 and I have to say that I was so impressed, overall when 3.2 (or .3, dont really remember) came to the light. The performance boost in comparisson with the 2.x series was really huge, and the management of resources was a lot better (at least the memory consumption was clearly smaller, with a sane config, of course).

But I was still missing something… For example something like a simple and clean config. To really get a clean interface with kde I was forced to use the most unclean solution, the baghira kwin theme (wich is one of the heaviest thing, being the crystal decoration the only heavier thing that I know of). I used it with the gradient option and both colors set to the same (so it was just a plaing deco, as it should). About the qt style the thing was easier, I just used reinhardt, that I loved and still love, though now I use qtcurve, since I can use the same for the gtk applications).

So, I was one day wondering around the Gentoo Forums and I got to see the huge thread relating fvwm and saw some screenshots and some interesting stuff that really impressed me. I had no idea at all that the pinkie wm that I disliked so much in the past was able to do that things. The transparencies really did not impress me too much (I dont like them and find them annoying for the daily work) but some other things like the power of the dinamic menus, the vector decos and the configurability of the focus, the placement, and the pager really impressed me. Every single bit was configurable, and with the plus of an easy mechanism to add features thru external applications (I’m talking about piperead here). At a first glance millions of things came to my head, that was definitively impossible with a conventional DE or WM. So I started using it and, until today, I can say that my performance has drastically boosted.

Every single piece of the 6thpink’s desktop behaves just like 6thpink wants it to behave. Incredible, but true. I can’t say that it deceived me, I’m now a happy fvwm user for ever (unless fvwm 3.0 takes 150 mb or ram :stuck_out_tongue: ). And all thanks to these forums and the Gentoo ones. All your help and the mailing lists also helped a lot.

Tried it about 4 times over the past couple of years but didn’t stick with the config process, so went back to other WMs, such as the various *boxes, and pekwm.

Finally stuck with it and am so glad I did! 8)

I started using fvwm because it was the default window manager in SLS.

I’ve flopped around between other window managers over the years, but I always find myself back in fvwm.

It’s like home.

well it was that or mwm at the time of my first Linux distro - which was slack i think… i used it to connect to a telnet session because getting telnet working on dos seemed impossible. well anyway fvwm was the only game in town.

anyway time passed and i moved to window maker - which worked okay, then to blackbox - then i remembered stuff i did in fvwm and found no good replacment in blacl box - then tried gnome and kde for a bit and decided fvwm was the only viable WM out there. flexible, fast, small foot print, pretty. perfect. it has been pretty much my only wm since 2001.

i am no fvwm wizard - but i know what to do to make it to suit my needs