NsCDE Releases, Changes and Announcements

Last couple of months, NsCDE is in the “release candidate” stage of versioning. 1.0rc18 is the latest.

Soon, in a few days maybe, NsCDE 1.0rc20 will be released under releases tab on github. It will contain graphical color modificator for color themes in a Color Style Manager, localization support, Font Style Manager rewritten almost from scratch, floating graphical pager positioning improvements and some fixes.

Not so Common Desktop Environment - NsCDE 1.0rc21 is out.

It can be downloaded on GitHub.

Some major improvements, fixes and documentation update. This should be considered 1.0 (or maybe I will name it 1.1) without “rc”.

It is intended to be used with FVWM 2.6.7 - 2.6.9 or newer from 2.6 major branch of FVWM.

It can be used experimentally with a few glitches also with FVWM3, which is still in development, but once authors make it’s design known for final release, NsCDE will for sure support it and make use of it’s new features.

Here is the changelog:

  • NsCDE 1.0rc21 release
  • Localization support + first new language (Croatian)
  • Multiscreen fixes
  • Color Style Manager clickable base colors with frames and foreground,
    improved CDE similarity
  • Color Editor on new Modify Button, full CDE functionality in Color Style
  • Installer modifications and improvements, more local examples: Style,
    Keybindings and Menus
  • Documentation update for Color Style Manager
  • Fix: Use $[w.resource] instead $[w.name] everywhere because of localization
  • Oasis palette consolidation, new Coalmine palette …
  • README.md cleanup
  • InputForm corrections and improvements
  • Font Style Manager rewritten from scratch in a robust and more usable way
  • Fontsets rethinking and reorganization, new fontset added (Fira)
  • Documentation update for Font Style Manager
  • Fix over-edge placements of pagers
  • WindowList mouse positioninig with keyboard - change to center of the
  • Rest minor fixes and cleanups
  • Misc documentation updates

Thanks a lot!
Nscde looks great on my netbook. Its fast and my fav openTTD feels at home with it.

NsCDE 1.0rc24 is released.

NsCDE 1.0rc24 (pre)release notes

Two and half months after 1.0rc22 prerelease, new release candidate again has
extended functionality of the NsCDE. There will be no more new functionalities
before 1.1 release, just couple of months for fixing and polishing existing
code. NsCDE 1.1 (1.0 was actually long ago), will be released probably in
december, on the day when all started 2 years ago.

Here are the highlights of what has changed and what is added between 1.0rc22
and 1.0rc24

  1. New Apps and Features
  • NProcMgr: NsCDE Process Manager: application which shows NsCDE FVWM and
    other processes, their pids and running/presence state. Processes can be
    started, stopped and restarted. It also has capabilities for rereading
    various parts of the configuration: Menus, Functions, Style, Keybindings
    etc. NsCDE Process Manager is present by default on the Desktop Settings
    submenu (7) of the Front Panel, but it can also be found on the Workspace
    Menu NsCDE submenu, as well as from Watch Errors and Fvwm Console contextual
    part of the Window Options Menu.

  • GeometryMgr: Before 1.0rc22, “Save Geometry” option on the Window Options
    Menu or Meta+F6 directly called function which saved current window
    geometry, so windows will be positioned and sized on exact geometry
    coordinates next time when they appear on the page and workspace for the
    first time, or with “Reposition Window” option of the Window Options Menu.
    Needles to say, this option was easy to catch with mouse by mistake, and
    even more with key binding.
    New FvwmScript application brings dialog with window class and resource
    names, and exact coordinates when Save Geometry is called, plus info about
    previous remembered pixel size and position if any. Here, user can inspect,
    tune, cancel or confirm that new saving. Clearing all values and choosing
    save clears that and any before existing geometry mapping for that screen

  • Custom Front Panel Launchers: from the beginning until now, Front Panel
    had fixed number of launchers (big icon or applet plus optional submenu)
    on the left and right side of the Workspace Manager. Now, with a usage of
    Front Panel Controls menu and it’s “Number of Launchers …” submenu, user
    can reduce to 0, or extend to 20 number of launchers. As in CDE, default
    is 10 launchers (5 left, and 5 right), which gives 10. This can be doubled
    or reduced to 4, 3, 2, 1 or no launchers at all. This allows user to make
    configurations with Workspace Manager leftmost or rightmost on the Front
    Panel, to make minimal only Workspace Manager plus handlers Front Panel
    without launchers, or to make really wide Front Panels with 18, 19 and
    with maximum 20 launchers (screen resolution must support such stretching
    of the Front Panel). All new custom launchers can be customized to contain
    icons or applets, to have or not subpanels.

  • Wide or Eco Workspace Manager: together with custom launchers on the Front
    Panel, Workspace Manager (WSM) now by default has fixed width of workspace
    buttons. This means that shrinking workspace to 2 workspaces will shrink
    Front Panel, and expanding workspaces to 6 or 8 will expand it. This is
    in contrast to fixed WSM on which until now the buttons themselves where
    shrinked (6, 8) or expanded (2), but WSM frame remained of the same width.
    New behaviour is in sync with visual CDE behaviour and gives a chance for
    wider workspace names in 6 or 8 workspaces mode. Old fixed width WSM can
    be used if InfoStore variable wsm.eco is defined and set to 1 in

  • Splash screen: NsCDE has now splash screen on startup. It displays logo,
    information about system on which it is running, NsCDE and FVWM version,
    licence and such. It lasts some 6 seconds on start, but can be speed up
    with Control+C or by clicking on the text.

  • Show Workspace functionality: called by the Root Menu as “Clean/Restore
    Workspace”, by Ctrl + Left click on the root window and with Meta+Alt+W
    keybinding. It will iconify all windows on the page or restore them on
    subsequent calls. Already iconified windows prior to calling this function,
    as well as newly opened windows on the page will not be affected by this
    group iconify / deiconify (show desktop) action. During this action, any
    animation which may be configured with Window Style Manager for FvwmAnimate
    will be temporary disabled to avoid long dance on the screen if there are
    many windows on it.

  • New keybindings:

    • Meta+Shift+Tab will cycle workspaces backwards.
    • Meta+Alt+W calls Show Desktop
  • Dunst support: A nice FVWM-friendly notification daemon dunst(1) is probably
    the best choice for custom DE environments and classis Window Managers. It
    is now tightly integrated with NsCDE in the same was as stalonetray: it can
    be enabled or disabled with InfoStore variable nscde_use_dunst 0/1 in user’s
    $FVWM_USERDIR/NsCDE.conf. Configuration is provided and partially managed
    (Color Style Manager and Font Style Manager) by the NsCDE as
    This means that handling of dunst(1) and stalonetray(1) can be removed from
    $FVWM_USERDIR/libexec/colormgr.local, because this is now handled

  • New Palettes and Backdrops:

    • palettes: LateSummer
    • backdrops: CubesSmall and Pearls
  • Merge of the VUE Palettes and Backdrops: there is no need to install this as
    addon. It is merged with other palettes and backdrops, because it is fully
    compatible, no matter that this comes from pre-CDE era.

  • New finder for Audio Volume Control application: gives it’s best to find
    working audio mixer app on the subpanel of launcher 9 on the Front Panel.

  • Installer.ksh: support staged installation (for packaging) with -D

  1. Bug fixes
  • Fix possible indefinite Wait in share/templates/NsCDE-Functions.local sample

  • Fix WSM truncating WSM.conf bug after initial creation before first restart

  • Style fixes for Gkrellm, Sysinfo, menus etc …

  • Removed xscreensaver splash

  • Iconify Event function fix when PipeRead gets dash(1) shell on Debian, which is
    aliased to /bin/sh (called by the system()) users will not have ‘=’ and ‘60’ empty
    files in their homedir anymore.

  • Better error handling for sysinfo.py (Workstation Information)

  • Python syntax fixes (warnings noticed on Debian)

  • Major works on higher DPI corrections for font handling

  • Localization fixes

  • Fix Splash Screen under fvwm3 (hopefully) on multi display

  • Fixes for monitor enumeration, preparations for FVWM3 support

  • Fix default Front Panel Iconified IconBox position not to overlap stalonetray

  1. Removed / discontinued
  • Stop using FvwmBanner (removed in FVWM3) - we have Splash now

  • Removed Black.dp, BlackWhite.dp and White.dp obsolete nonworking palettes

  1. Misc
  • Documentation revision and update, new sections and corrections

  • Consolidated Delete/Close/Destroy Window Options menu actions

  • Front Panel Controls menu consolidation and help

  • Add Solaris Earth Watch icon in the icon set, document example how to use it
    on the Front Panel as a custom applet.

  • Init and setup procedure polishing

1 Like

Also, on the Github wiki page, there is FAQ, link to videos and work in progress to make usefull snippets of advices, solutions and such quick documents for faster problem resolving or start.


NsCDE 1.0rc25 is out

Basically rc24, but with important installer fix.


Release Notes:

  • NsCDE 1.0rc25 release

  • Fix nasty stopper in Installer.ksh which misconfigures NSCDE_ROOT in interactive setup.

  • Reworked the way “Version” builtin variable is used in FVWM configuration, it will go
    away in FVWM3.

  • Added checks on the basis FVWM_IS_FVWM3 environmnent variable to functions,
    Sysinfo and Splash. This is not yet full FVWM3 support.


I’m announcing new release candidate for NsCDE - rc28. Hopefully the last before non-rc release, which should happen at the end of the year, two years after initial development started.

NsCDE 1.0rc28 (pre)release notes

This pre-release focuses on 5 major points:

  • FVWM3 support
  • Menus and keybinding ergonomic reworked for usability as well as CDE
    similarity where applicable and useful
  • Front Panel color 8 and colored WSM options support, which covers a wide
    range of CDE variants on old UNIX systems
  • Reworked OccupyWorkspace/Page dialog for extended usability
  • General polishing and fixing for release 1.1 which should happen in the
    middle of december 2020 on the 2th anniversary of starting work on NsCDE
  1. New features
  • Color Style Manager in “Number Of Colors …” dialog now offers two new
    (sub)options: to use color 8 of the palette for icon background on Front
    Panel and interior Icon background as on some versions of CDE on HP-UX
    and AIX. Further, some versions of UNIX systems had Workspace Manager in
    the color 6 of the palette, which is also offered as an option in NsCDE
    now. Both of this features are available only in 8-colors mode, not in
    4-colors. Because of necessary internal changes, (Colorset 23 addition)
    $FVWM_USERDIR/NsCDE-Colorset.conf must be rebuilt. After upgrade, Color
    Style Manager and popup message with that info will appear on screen
    after upgrade from pre-1.0rc28 and (re)start of FVWM. Select existing
    or any other color scheme to get Front Panel properly colored again.

  • Icons can now be focused and browsed with up/down arrows on the one page
    with Meta+Alt+i. Pressing Meta+Alt+i selects back last non-iconic window on
    the current workspace/page.

  • Smooth use with FVWM3 as much as this can be, during this still “young”
    phase of FVWM3. On system with both FVWM2 and FVWM3 installed, FVWM2 will
    still be used by default, but this can be overriden by putting FVWM_BIN
    variable in startup or login profile to point to main FVWM2 or FVWM3 binary.

  • Occupy Workspace and Occupy Page dialogs has been merged into one app. When
    called as “Occupy Workspace” initial behaviour and list is workspaces, and
    when called as “Occupy Page” initially list of pages will be shown. By
    pressing workspace or page radio button, or space key shortcut, mode of
    operation will switch from pages to workspaces and vice versa. In short,
    it is enough to call Occupy to select workspace and page in one move.

  • Window Operations Menu can be now called with Meta+Alt+Space or Meta+Alt+m.

  • CDE Alt+ArrowUp and Alt+ArrowDown raise/lower overlapping windows support.

  • Flipping windows on the current workspace/page with Ctrl+Menu and

  • Icon placement now in pixels matches CDE placement of iconified windows.

  • Menus are now logical and consolidated. Specially Window Operations Menu.
    There are no dead or non-usable options presented. Dynamic menus are used.
    This is now tuned also for the Front Panel and Subpanels menus.

  • It should be possible now to work with keyboard without touching mouse in
    the most cases.

  • New logo based on brutalism achitecture style and patterns, which nicely
    fits general CDE and NsCDE experience.

  • nscde_setup wizard now supports localization.

  • Select Area screenshot option

  1. Bug fixes

    • See ChangeLog or “git log” for detailed working list of fixes. Generally
      most of the fixes are working same-day fixes, but there was some old
  2. Removed / discontinued

    • Removed old logo, removed some faulty and wrong backdrops and the rest
      consolidated. Removed duplicate and very similar palettes from some old
      non-standard CDE palettes collection.

    • OccupyWorkspace and OccupyPage dialogs are replaced with unified Occupy

  3. Misc

    • Backdrops were consolidated, named logically from their ad hoc choosen
      names, palettes were also consolidated with duplicates and almost
      duplicates removed.

    • New TallSkyDark and TallSkyLight backdrops for moden big displays.
      Diethering of course remains.

    • First mouse button click on the root window now gives root menu, not
      double click. Double click will give Window Options menu.

I very much love the look of this. Sadly, after 4 days of trying on NetBSD 9.1, my frustration is at an end. I need to get actual work done.

My observations for NetBSD users - PyQx is time consuming, or impossible. Follow the link in the FAQ for installing ksh- from source which works and allows the install to commence. The tiny little annoying X utilities have to be compiled from source, which is fine, but some of them must also be downloaded because they are not included in the source package library.

I feel a lot of the problem for NetBSD users is going to be the name convention used, which sometimes doesn’t match, or they simply are not included in the source download tarball.

I would love to work with your overlay, but at this point, I don’t have time. I hope you continue your work!

Hi 0x1b,

Thank you for constructive criticism, but I really don’t understand what exactly is the problem.

I have first installed (modern) NetBSD in virtual machine a week ago. Never saw it before, if we exclude playing with it few days in VAX emulator 15 years ago.

  • PyQt5 is installed with pkg_add py37-qt5.
  • Korn shell from the system is not Korn shell but actually pdksh which simply cannot grasp some installer and lot of runtime code. Korn shell from package is broken. This should be reported to NetBSD people as soon I got time. This is the problem only for NetBSD and OpenIndiana.
  • I’m not native english speaker, and I have a problem understanding what you mean by name convention used, and what does it not match, and what do you find missing from source tarball.
  • For users of Qt5 applications, there will be no theme integration, because NetBSD lacks qt5 style plugins package. It can be of course compiled from source, but in the case of complex qt5 sources, this is probably couple hours of work. Maybe it is better to report this to NetBSD.

BTW, many portability issues are solved on post 1.0rc28 master tree from github. This parts of the FAQ are written for post 1.0rc28. NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFly and OpenIndiana support is fresh thing, two weeks old. Until the middle of this month, when there will be exactly 2 years of NsCDE development, for users of above mentioned systems, git clone of master branch from github is the best option. I have draft points for FAQ which will be enriched this days for portability.

Hi all,

I’m announcing first real release of NsCDE (1.1) after 2 years!

It can be fetched from here:


NsCDE 1.1 release notes

This is the first “real” release, after 2 years of development.
Release focuses on this major points:

  • Better wallpaper handling in Backdrop Style Manager
  • FVWM3 used by default when found (if not overriden by explicit environment)
  • Keybindings has been further logically reorganized
  • Manual Tiling support with Meta+Alt+R
  • Documentation update
  • Portability: NetBSD, OpenIndiana, OpenBSD, DragonFly BSD
  1. New features
  • Wallpapers can now be centered, tiled or aspect-stretched in the Backdrop
    Style Manager

  • Windows of the current page can be tiled with Meta+Alt+R, and resized in
    semi-automatic zoom in and zoom out mode with Meta+F4 and Shift+Meta+F4

  • NsCDE has been tested, tuned and fixed to run on NetBSD, OpenIndiana,
    OpenBSD, and DragonFly BSD. With Linux and FreeBSD support, this covers
    pretty much all of active free, open and semi-free UNIX and Linux systems

  • Key bindings are ordered to use Meta, Alt, Meta+Alt, Menu, Escape and
    Tab in conditions where appropriate, hintful and logical. For example,
    Menu key based keybindings are for actions about menus. Window movement
    iconification, size, closing, repositioning actions are bounded to F
    buttons with similar actions on the same F button, but with Alt or Meta
    as the modifier

  1. Bug fixes
  • See ChangeLog or “git log” for detailed working list of fixes. Generally
    most of the fixes are working same-day fixes, but there was some old
  1. Removed / discontinued
  • NsCDE-photos git repo is discontinued and will be removed in the future.
    With NsCDE there are now coming four file size optimized PNG examples.
    All other wallpapers, if wanted instead of backdrops, should be provided
    by the user in $FVWM_USERDIR/photos manually, or imported with “Add …”
    button from Backdrop Style Manager
  1. Misc
  • Two years ago, NsCDE has started as consolidation of chaotic private set
    of fvwm configurations and scripts. Spontaneously, this emerged as
    something which can be shared by others, and in march of 2019 uploaded
    as project on GitHub. Since then, lot of features and fixes appeared
    and active development has beed made on betas, and then long never ending
    row of release candindates up to rc28. This is now the first release.
    Since most of the release candidates were really 1.0 already. The first
    real release will take version 1.1. After it, 1.2 will emerge and so on …

Looking good ! It feels like 1995 again. In my opinion, this should become the default theme…

Hi Jos

Palette “Broica” is default theme in NsCDE as well as on default non-vendor CDE and some vednor provided CDE.


I meant nscde could be a default for fvwm, or is it already (I mean, when you install fvwm)


I don’t think so. FVWM is more like API or framework. There is some default like “demo” when run out of the box, but it is largely meant for users who want to make either:

  • their own setup which suits their needs and wishes of how things should work and look

  • for us, who make custom hybrid desktop environments out of it and other standalone open source components, either original, or targeted clone like me

This is why I say FVWM is a model for software freedom. Not just in licence, but in what it provides and how it provides. The spirit is that user has control, not Android app with two radio buttons in settings “dark” and “light”.

Ok hm yes only light and dark option doesnt sound too good. But anyway I will keep it as my default ;)

I tried installing it today (new version) on my manjaro base… the system built without errors, but the desktop crashes. I removed the NsCDE setup. It’s a sad day.

Thank you for detailed description of the problem. On the basis of this report, I can throw chicken bones on the pentagram and then commit this on github.

Sadly when there are no errors beyond a failure to successfully login… chicken bones it is. :sad: FWIW. In order to uplift you with joy, the same software does run on my MXLinux machine. Yay!


Failure to successfully login does nothing to do with NsCDE, but with your X display manager, whatever it is: lightdm, sddm, gdm etc … and underlaying PAM modules managing authentification, authorization and session requirements on the system. When this succeds, only then something is executed by the display manager … like window manager.


Presumably the reason is fvwm crashed. For that, you’ll have to see if a corefile has been created on your system. If corefiles are enabled (see: ulimit -c), and you’re using a systemd-based distro, then you can use the coredumpctl command to analyse the corefile. If you’re not using systemd, then you might find a corefile in $HOME or /tmp/.