Hello, if there’s anyone there at all…
First post on the forum. I much prefer mailing lists but I tried to subscribe and AFAICT got no reply yet from the list server.
I’ve been a very contented user of fvwm for what must now be more than two decades but I would still call myself no more than a novice user.
I use fvwm on several work machines and on my laptop. The laptop usually sits on my desk, powered up continuously.
To set up fvwm, all I’ve done over the years is tweak an example configuration file (which I think I originally found in some distribution) to give me something that does more or less what I like. That’s basically three desktops with a grid of 12x6 screens on each which I use in ways to which I’ve grown very accustomed to keep quite a lot of plates in the air. That’s how I work.
Normally I’ll run the fvwm desktops on my laptop like that for many months at a time continuously, without restarting fvwm.
When I upgraded from Debian Jessie to Stretch in February 2018 I didn’t notice any spectacular changes in the behaviour of fvwm, and I normally have automatic upgrades enabled so things keep fairly up to date (well, at least as up to date as Debian ever is, which isn’t very).
A few days ago, around August 7th-8th 2018, something happened overnight, possibly during an automatic update, which crashed the laptop.
It failed to restart the OS. It went into a rebooting loop which was still looping when I got to it the next morning.
After I got it rebooted I couldn’t start fvwm at all. There were error messages in the log about drivers which made no sense to me.
After some experimentation I got fvwm started with an old configuration file, but the behaviour of what I guess is a new fvwm with this old config was nothing like its behaviour when I used to use that file, years ago. In this state it was more or less unusable. I don’t even know what version of fvwm I was using before this event - I’d never had cause to ask, I was just happily using it - but the version now is
laptop3:~$ >>> fvwm -V fvwm 2.6.7 compiled on Jan 16 2017 at 17:52:00 with support for: ReadLine, RPlay, Stroke, XPM, SVG, Shape, XShm, SM, Bidi text, Xinerama, XRender, XCursor, XFT, NLS
So I did some more tweaking (it took me three days) and got something that at least I could use to start a few xterms and a browser and actually do some work. The entire configuration directory as it stands is available on the Web in a password-protected file archived with tar and 7z if anyone wants it, please ask for the location and password which I’ll send by private message.
Now I’m left struggling with a some issues that are at the moment beyond my fvwm skills.
I work on a lot of remote machines like Web and mail servers, which don’t themselves have X installed. I use emacs, with syntax highlighting for editing source code, mostly in C and Perl. I’ve been used to using those colours for many years, so a colour instantly says to me “comment” or “keyword” or whatever. Now, when I start emacs24-nox on a remote machine from an xterm on my laptop, the syntax colours are completely different from what I’m used to; some of them make the text illegible. I can tell emacs what colours to use in its startup files, and in desperation I’ve done that on a couple of machines, but I really don’t want have to edit the all the startup files for all the different users on all the remote machines if I can just get fvwm to do what it used to do. This is the most annoying problem I have at the moment.
Somewhat less annoying but still rather damaging to productivity, the viewport size (if that’s the right term) seems now to be half the width that fvwm thinks is the width of a screen. The heights seem to agree, however. The disagreement in the widths has the very irritating effects that
(a) the mouse cursor sometimes vanishes for several seconds at a time until I manage to drag it back to someplace visible, and
(b) dragging a window from one screen to a screen to its left or right takes a whole lot longer than it should because the window vanishes into some sort of hyperspace between the two viewports during the process. I had no idea that a screen and a viewport could even be different sizes, and I’ve found no way to specify their relationship.
- More than slightly annoyingly
(a) FvwmPager vanished. I guess this was because it was always tethered to the top left of the screen (it was like that when I found it and I’ve never changed it) and the top left of the screen isn’t now actually visible in the viewport, because the viewport is only half the size of the screen and by my bad luck it’s viewing the right hand half of the screen. I’ve somehow accidentally untethered FvwmPager from its tethered position and made it visible (I don’t know how) but I’d like to tether it back again when I can see the whole screen in the viewport;
(b) FvwmPager is now a lot bigger than it used to be (I guess I did that); it used to be about 10% of the screen size, and now it’s about twice the viewport size in width (so you can’t see it all at once) and about 30% of the screen height; and
© the button on the right of FvwmPager (which used to minimize it leftwards or pull it out rightwards from its minimized state) has disappeared.
- Least annoying, but puzzling, the window decorations have changed significantly in appearance from what I’m used to and the ‘close window’ button has also disappeared. No big deal, I can exit a shell/xterm and kill a process if I need to, I rarely need to use the button.
I’ve spent days with man pages and search engines but I’m no closer to solving these problems than I was three days ago so if anyone can point me in the right directions I’d be most grateful.
Last question: Unrelated to the above unwelcome surprises, for many years I’ve wondered if there’s a way to assign a keyboard shortcut to switch between desktops. It’s not a deal breaker for me but it would be enormously useful to be able to do that switch with the keyboard instead of with the mouse. At present I use to move between viewports on a desktop.
Finally thanks for taking the time to read this, if you have, and if you’ve ever had any hand in developing fvwm, thank you very very very much for that too.
Obviously I’m old enough that I had no trouble with the captcha.