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#1 2009-08-17 13:38:04

Murray_B
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2008-07-29
Posts: 130

Window manager - pros and cons

Hi!

I do like the discussion about the file managers in the forum and just want to start one about window managers.

Which window managers did you try or work with? What do you like or dislike with those window managers?
Which feature is important for you, which "feature" don't you like? And finally: Which one are you using now?

Please, don't write things like "xyz is the best!", we know that everyone has the best wm - for him or her...
It is more interesting to see the reasons behind your decision ;-)

I'll write some of my experiences, too, but I have not enough time at the moment.

Greetings from good ol' germany,

Thomas

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#2 2009-08-17 13:50:32

Mr.Elendig
#archlinux@freenode channel op
From: The intertubes
Registered: 2004-11-07
Posts: 4,033

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

xmonad > * !!!!!!!!!111onehoundredeandeleven!

Anyway.
1. really nice documentation
2. fairly easy to configure
3. handles xinerama/twinview nicely
4. fairly stable
5. tiling
6. good community
7. doesn't try to force things on you that you don't want. (most of the time, anyway)


Evil #archlinux@freenode channel op and general support dude.
. files on github, Screenshots, Random pics and the rest

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#3 2009-08-17 13:57:20

Army
Member
Registered: 2007-12-07
Posts: 1,784

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I used Gnome's, KDE's and Xfce's WM, when I used these DEs and they all had their pros and cons. Then I tried out LXDE with Openbox, which I liked for its speed, but not for its look, round corners are really much more beautiful wink But that was the time when obkey-git appeared in the AUR. This tool made me switch to a complete pure Openbox desktop and I didn't really try out anything else from that moment on. I gave musca a try, but these tiling WMs aren't my thing, I can control my Openbox completely by keyboard (thanks to obkey it only took me ~half an hour to configure it smile ). So I cannot say if e.g. Fluxbox or let's say all the other lightweight WMs would be better for me, but I'm really completely happy with Openbox, so I'll stay until ... until I'm REALLY bored wink And then musca will be my first one to be tested!

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#4 2009-08-17 14:10:01

np
Member
Registered: 2009-08-17
Posts: 4

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Vote for DWM here.

Pros:
It's so small you can see exactly how it works
It's tiling, so full keyboard navigation.
Easy to customize if you don't mind hacking at the source.
There's tons of great patches if you need extra functionality
Maximises screen space automatically, so you don't need to organise your windows.

Cons:
Self-proclaimed 'elitist' community.
Documentation isn't brilliant.
Hacking source > Compile > Reinstall > Restart cycle can be tedious.
Isn't too pretty -  no window decorations and icons, if you're into that kind of thing.

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#5 2009-08-17 14:40:08

mateusz.f
Member
Registered: 2009-04-17
Posts: 46

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Vote for ION3.

I falled in love in tiling when I started to use XMonad. I still like it very much, but after some time I got bored.

Then I used Awesome for few months. I liked the lua configuration, and how it is by default showing tray icons and is very beginner user friendly.

I was a very happy user, until I read somwhere about DWM simplicity, I started to play with different WM-s, including WMII and other less popular.

Finally I have found ION. The funny thing is that, when I read on it's web page that it is made while searching for better usability - I didn't believe it is more usable. It took me few days to understand what makes it that good.

What I like mostly in ION: manual tiling, tabs and scratchpad. Maybe these features aren't exclusive to this WM, but they just feel right for me.

/Matt

Last edited by mateusz.f (2009-08-17 14:41:35)

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#6 2009-08-17 14:48:57

davvil
Member
Registered: 2008-05-06
Posts: 165

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I was a long time user of FVWM. It is a great window manager which allows you to configure everything and has great scripting possibilities. I had a nearly mouse-free configuration with which I was quite happy. The visual aspect can also be configured as much as you like, from completely minimalistic to the most bombastic you can imagine.

However the tiling approach to window management has finally won me over. The increasing size of displays has had a role in it. As I had more screen space, I tried to optimize how to better organize the windows. And for that the tiling window management is a winner. I currently use xmonad, although I have not tested other possibilities extensively. When I made the change awesome was redesigning its configuration interface and that put me back. xmonad has a great documentation and is also very configurable (although my haskell knowledge is a bit lacking currently).

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#7 2009-08-17 15:08:10

SpeedVin
Member
From: Poland
Registered: 2009-04-29
Posts: 955

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

np wrote:

Vote for DWM here.

Pros:
It's so small you can see exactly how it works
It's tiling, so full keyboard navigation.
Easy to customize if you don't mind hacking at the source.
There's tons of great patches if you need extra functionality
Maximises screen space automatically, so you don't need to organise your windows.

Cons:
Self-proclaimed 'elitist' community.
Documentation isn't brilliant.
Hacking source > Compile > Reinstall > Restart cycle can be tedious.
Isn't too pretty -  no window decorations and icons, if you're into that kind of thing.

+1
It's fast too and eat least memory resources for a WM smile
He do what he have to do (Mange Windows) smile

Last edited by SpeedVin (2009-08-18 13:12:21)


Shell Scripter | C/C++/Python/Java Coder | ZSH

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#8 2009-08-17 15:18:56

brisbin33
Member
From: boston, ma
Registered: 2008-07-24
Posts: 1,796
Website

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

XMonad, yes.

why?
-- sane defaults, install and run w/o a config if you like.
-- extensible as hell, xmonad-contrib has anything and everything
-- configuring takes time, this leads to a sense of pride in your xmonad.hs
-- you can literally make it act or look any way you want... if you have the patience to figure it out
-- all the l33test archers use it, just look at the screenshot threads.

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#9 2009-08-17 15:30:05

SimonPhotography
Member
From: Arkansas, US
Registered: 2008-04-03
Posts: 24
Website

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I'm using ScrotWM right now, and liking it.

The defaults are sane, and basically mirror those of Awesome, which is what I was using before.  The config file is *very* simple, and you can pipe in a conky from the command line - handy.

Cons - well, its simplicity means that it is quite limited.  It suits my needs, though, as I like the defaults.  The only things I've done are add xcompmgr and set my urxvt-unicode terminals to partially transparent.

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#10 2009-08-17 15:58:58

Murray_B
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2008-07-29
Posts: 130

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Hm, quite some messages in this little time... Okay, now I want to tell a bit about my tries:

KDE: I started with KDE in version 1.x. and ended with KDE 4.2. I like that everything fits together and the graphical configuration of a very lot of things. I like quality of some applications which was great in the early KDE-times. Still nowadays there are less non-KDE-apps which are as good as some KDE-apps (e.g. kmail, korganizer, kaddressbook, kdm, ...) I didn't like that it became more and more bloated... Too many applications in one package (hello to split-packages) and too many features I don't need. Downloading and installing KDE needs time... And it is not the fastest thing.

Gnome: Pro: Less features, Con: Feels even more bloated than KDE, because it needs so many different libs and has so little configurations in comparison to KDE

XFCE: Feels like a Gnome which is done right... Pro: Small, fast, kind of simple elegance, modular, graphical configuration, very intuitive and good usability (for non-handicapped people). And there is this strange feeling, that everything I need is there when I need it and I am not really missing something. And it is small!
Cons: Well, yes, there are some things I am missing. A menu-editor, display the properties of multiple folders and files in thunar, that only the background of a panel is getting transparent and maybe a nice login manager (slim is no real replacement for kdm/gdm, these ones are just the best.)

ION: I tried it in a time, when nobody was talking about tiling WMs. I am still using everything in maximized windows, so there is no real need for a tiling WM. I liked the new concept but still can't imagine how to work efficiently with it...

IceWM: Pro: Fast! very fast! Contra: A bit ugly without the right theme... (Still?) supports no freedesktop-standards

Openbox: Pro: very small and fast. Contra: You need apps, even panels for it. I always had the feeling, nothing fits together. Well, maybe, because nothing belongs to OB ;-) And I always worked with apps from KDE and it didn't make sense for me, to use a lot of KDE-apps and not KDE itself.

I tried some others, too, but there are too complicated to configure, I want to work with my computer and not for my computer...

I switched to XFCE 4 some months ago and feel quite well with this lean desktop environment, but maybe I'll switch to openbox somewhen and won't use any desktop environments any more.

Thomas

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#11 2009-08-17 17:55:11

Nepherte
Member
From: Singapore
Registered: 2008-09-09
Posts: 427
Website

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

brisbin33 wrote:

XMonad, yes.

why?
-- sane defaults, install and run w/o a config if you like.
-- extensible as hell, xmonad-contrib has anything and everything
-- configuring takes time, this leads to a sense of pride in your xmonad.hs
-- you can literally make it act or look any way you want... if you have the patience to figure it out
-- all the l33test archers use it, just look at the screenshot threads.

I couldn't agree more.

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#12 2009-08-17 18:14:48

Peasantoid
Member
Registered: 2009-04-26
Posts: 928
Website

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Musca.

Pros:
Very minimal. The only decoration is a colored border, and you can easily get rid of that.
Simple configuration syntax.
No enormous dependencies, just dmenu and libx11.
Can operate in both tiling and stacking mode.

Cons:
Could be more minimal, like DWM.
Configuration is not as flexible as, say, XMonad's. If you want any remotely complex behavior, you have to edit the source code.
Stacked mode is rather lacking.

Last edited by Peasantoid (2009-08-17 18:16:18)

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#13 2009-08-17 19:02:59

Runiq
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2008-10-29
Posts: 1,053

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Peasantoid wrote:

Musca.

Pros:
Very minimal. The only decoration is a colored border, and you can easily get rid of that.
Simple configuration syntax.
No enormous dependencies, just dmenu and libx11.
Can operate in both tiling and stacking mode.

Cons:
Could be more minimal, like DWM.
Configuration is not as flexible as, say, XMonad's. If you want any remotely complex behavior, you have to edit the source code.
Stacked mode is rather lacking.

In what way could it be more minimal? Were it more minimal, it'd be dwm, which is pretty much the epitome of minimal.

I'm using musca too. Has all the features I need and then some. Haven't tried Xmonad yet because of That Huge GHC Dependency.

More pros:
Hooks. With them, you can do pretty much anything whenever you're using any musca command. (I have one for starting gimp, for example: It creates a new group, sets the frame layout accordingly and positions the gimp windows as I want them.)
Dmenu as a dependency. Any app relying on dmenu for anything is instantly made awesome. smile I'm using no panel or statusbar at all at the moment, dmenu is pretty much enough. (Of course, this might also stem from general laziness and my inability to setup dzen properly. smile )

More cons:
I'd like a floating layer on top of the tiling layer since not all apps work that well with tiling. (The group feature makes this pretty manageable, though.)
I have some general gripes with its window placement, but these are mostly minor. I'd like to be able to make windows of the same WM_CLASS display only in specific frames, for example. Getting the names of windows which are hidden under a frame would be nice, too.

Last edited by Runiq (2009-08-17 19:03:36)

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#14 2009-08-17 19:05:37

Peasantoid
Member
Registered: 2009-04-26
Posts: 928
Website

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Runiq wrote:

Hooks. With them, you can do pretty much anything whenever you're using any musca command. (I have one for starting gimp, for example: It creates a new group, sets the frame layout accordingly and positions the gimp windows as I want them.)

I think everyone has a hook like that. tongue

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#15 2009-08-17 19:10:09

Runiq
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2008-10-29
Posts: 1,053

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Peasantoid wrote:
Runiq wrote:

Hooks. With them, you can do pretty much anything whenever you're using any musca command. (I have one for starting gimp, for example: It creates a new group, sets the frame layout accordingly and positions the gimp windows as I want them.)

I think everyone has a hook like that. tongue

Heh. True. tongue

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#16 2009-08-17 21:57:25

Intrepid
Member
Registered: 2008-06-11
Posts: 254

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I prefer Awesome

Reasons:
~It's a tiling wm, so no unused screenspace
~it's programmable in Lua, so I was able to customize until it was perfect to me
~It has a system tray for application icons, something I missed using other tiling wms.
~Every workspace, window, and program's defaults (size, layout, master or slave window) can be configured.
~It's much faster and more lightweight than a DE, but has many DE features like a statusbar/window list


Intrepid (adj.): Resolutely courageous; fearless.

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#17 2009-08-17 22:27:05

jealma
Member
From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2008-01-03
Posts: 71

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Question: I read about ION's "manual tiling". What is the difference between xmonad's tiling and ION's tiling if I may ask?

Regarding my WM choice:
Xmonad,
because it gives me full keyboard control,
because it gives me all screen estate
because it allows tiling windows in all kinds of nice ways (grid, tabs, etcetera)
because it fits well with using a minimalist environment, with a lightweight WM and lightweight applications
because it's cool to have a WM that 99.99% of all people can't use (oh how I like it when someone moves the mouse on my desktop, searching for a start button, clicking left and right while nothing's happening, using ctrl-alt-del, alt+F2 and others without anything happening, that's really cool)

I've used KDE3 for most of my Linux-life, also some Gnome. I liked KDE3 a lot, but it's ill-maintained in most distro's and then I got used to Fluxbox, then Openbox, then Xmonad, the Openbox again and finally settled on Xmonad. I like KDE4 also, but somehow the window management feels a little sluggish (probably because of kwin effects and nvidia trouble). I use some KDE applications though, like digikam, gwenview and krusader, which is currently easy with the split kde packages.

Fact is: I can't really find one WM that is "IT". I currently like Xmonad the most, but I feel also pretty comfortable working with KDE4, Gnome and Openbox.

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#18 2009-08-17 22:46:06

methuselah
Member
Registered: 2007-10-02
Posts: 570

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Murray_B wrote:

XFCE:Cons: Well, yes, there are some things I am missing. A menu-editor, display the properties of multiple folders and files in thunar, that only the background of a panel is getting transparent and maybe a nice login manager (slim is no real replacement for kdm/gdm, these ones are just the best.)

1.) A menu editor is supposedly in the next release, and possibly proper transparent panels and xfwm4 window decorations.

2.) For a transparent xfce4-panel right now you can try the cairo-patch: http://www.cooptel.qc.ca/~pggervais/xfc … tch.tar.gz

You can use the old PKGBUILD from the AUR to build it using the new patch and the new 4.6.1 source: http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=22081

Then to change panel colors and transparency levels, edit the patch before you build the xfce4-panel (takes one minute to edit the patch, one minute to build the panel).

change these 4 ALPHAs part of the patch to anything from 0.1 to 0.9 for different transparency levels:

+#define ALPHA                   0.2

and, for different RGBA color change this part:

cairo_set_source_rgba (cr, r, g, b, ALPHA);

to something like this (makes it a clear black color that is best with ALPHA = 0.7):

cairo_set_source_rgba (cr, 0, 0, 0, ALPHA);

3.) Slim can be made to look nice, but I prefer starting xfce4 from my inittab with this:

x:5:once:/bin/su "YOUR_USERNAME" -l -c "/bin/bash --login -c startx >/dev/null 2>&1"

........

One of the reasons I stick with xfce4 is because I'm on a notebook and it would seem like a waist to install a nice tiling window manager like xmonad. I would really want to use xmonad if I had a nice desktop with a few monitors, and if I used a few more console apps other than nano, vim (learning), mc, mpd + ncmpcpp, rtorrent.

Right now I'm using "terminator" for a tiling console (along with devilspie to embed it into my wallpaper), so all of my console apps can run on my wallpaper, and my gui apps like firefox take up the whole screen.

Last edited by methuselah (2009-08-17 22:49:43)

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#19 2009-08-17 22:56:54

thisllub
Member
From: Northern NSW Australia
Registered: 2007-12-28
Posts: 231

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I vacillate between OpenBox and E17.
I have them both set up pretty much the same, they both seem as fast, I rarely have a problem with either of them.
I sometimes use keystrokes to shape, size and place my windows, sometimes I don't.
With openbox I use gmrun to mimic the built in runCommand in E17.
I don't have wallpaper or desktop icons and I don't use a panel.
The client list is far superior to a tray.

My watch sits under my main monitor so I don't need a clock.


In the past I have had E17 configured to move left and right monitors independently. I like that.

I have OpenSolaris and Gnome on my laptop and I have to admit I find it the worst of all WM/DE options.

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#20 2009-08-17 23:10:32

Ronin-Sage
Member
Registered: 2008-10-24
Posts: 153
Website

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

Enlightenment(E17)

+Lightweight: (in terms of resource consumption) and quite fast
+Customizable: (keybind config is straight-forward; your desktop theme can use "parts"(border, etc.) from other themes)
+Modular: (all features, such as the screenshot gadget, color-config gadget, or tiling add-on are loadable "modules")
+Generally looks nice

-Some features are still in the pre-production stages(EFM, systray, for example)
-A few parts are buggy(some parts of Efreet and Edje in particular)

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#21 2009-08-17 23:18:33

drelyn86
Member
From: Indianapolis, IN
Registered: 2009-04-10
Posts: 80

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I'll be the n00b of the bunch...
Gnome w/ Compiz!!!

Pros:
~Rivals the other OS's in eye-candy
~Zoom-plugin is extremely useful for flash videos without fullscreen
~Other highly-useful plugins such as Expo, Scale (w/ Scale Addons), Tile, and Grid
~easy and powerful configuration

Cons:
~Just say no to an ATI card (esp. w/ opengl applications)
~High memory (see below)
~Not mouse-free (see below)
~not enough 1980's-like appearances (lol, just a jab)

Other [debatable] thoughts:
~High memory usage? Compared to your lightweight and/or tiling WM's: yes, Compiz appears bloated. Compared to Windows Vista or 7... not so much...
~Not mouse-free: It could definitely be configured to be mouse-free, but should it really be a con that you have to use your mouse anyway?

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#22 2009-08-17 23:39:10

cardinals_fan
Member
From: /dev/null
Registered: 2008-02-03
Posts: 248

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

musca > dwm = evilwm > ratpoison > jwm > *

musca

Pros:
+ Innovative, powerful control over your windows
+ Completely keyboard-controllable
+ More tolerant of floating apps than most tiling WMs
+ Lightweight

Cons:
- Not configurable on-the-fly
- Not as small as evilwm tongue
- A bit new and therefore susceptible to bugs (though I haven't found any yet)


Segmentation fault (core dumped)

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#23 2009-08-18 00:45:19

opothehippo
Member
From: hella norcal bro
Registered: 2009-08-06
Posts: 89

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I mostly use openbox, but I'm not completely happy with it. The xml files are a pain to read, and you have to use your mouse a lot, but its still one of my fav's.

I would love to use a tiling WM, but I couldn't configure awesome well enough with the lua files. I'll try xmonad sometime.


Arch x86_64 | XMonad

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#24 2009-08-18 00:55:34

Square
Member
Registered: 2008-06-11
Posts: 435

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

My favorites are XMonad and Ion3

XMonad
Pro:
  - Light
  - Efficient
  - Extensible
  - Tiling
  - Two choices for handling of multiple screens (Workspace per screen or full workspaces across screens)

Con:
  - Can be kludgy depending on how you work
  - Apps that need floating cause a headache

Ion3
Pro:
  - Manual tabbed tiling
  - Extensible
  - Efficient
  - Fullscreen apps create own workspace and go back to the main workspace upon restore
  - Excellent built-in panel/statusbar (optional tray and dynamic, too!)
  - Can be controlled via full mouse or full keyboard
  - Embed workspaces in frames
  - Execute lua code on the fly (how the above is done)
  - Scratchpad (I use it for pidgin's buddy list)
  - Loaded with control

Con:
  - Very ugly by default
  - Can be a PITA to configure
  - Politics: Previous conflict between dev and arch devs
  - Steep learning curve (but, like vim, worth it)

I'm currently using ion3 again after a good run with XMonad. I do bounce around from wm to wm every now and again.

Last edited by Square (2009-08-18 00:56:31)


 

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#25 2009-08-18 01:07:41

linkmaster03
Member
Registered: 2008-12-27
Posts: 269

Re: Window manager - pros and cons

I used to use Openbox.

Openbox
Pros:
- Easy to setup
- Keybindings are a snap with obkey
- No bloat installed by default
Cons:
- Uses the mouse a lot
- XML configurations can be messy

I've been using dwm for a few weeks now and I'm done with Openbox. It fits my needs a lot better.

dwm
Pros:
- Very flexible statusbar
- Fast and minimal
- Automatic tiling means you don't need to learn a ton of keybindings and spend a lot of time moving all your windows around just how you like
- Supports floating and monocle
- Tags are like virtual desktops, but way better
- Uses dmenu

Cons:
- Tedious to convert patches for the newest version of dwm, especially if you have multiple patches
- You have to recompile to apply changes, although this is not an issue once you have it all configured how you like
- No real community
- Not very well documented
- Doesn't really support/implement any standards

Last edited by linkmaster03 (2009-08-18 01:15:27)

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