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Lesson 6 Common window managers
Objective List the characteristics of various window managers

Characteristics of various window managers for X Windows

A window manager for X Windows is responsible for defining how application windows behave in a GUI. Each window manager has its unique features and characteristics. Here's a rundown of some popular window managers:
  1. Metacity: Metacity was the default window manager used in early versions of GNOME. It's known for its simplicity and lack of visual effects. It aimed for usability over aesthetics, focusing on managing windows in a straightforward and predictable way.
  2. Compiz: Known for its rich and attractive visual effects, Compiz is an OpenGL compositing manager that is extendable via its plugin system. It offers features like 3D desktop, window animations, and desktop zooming.
  3. KWin: The default window manager for the KDE Plasma desktop, KWin, provides a balance between visual appeal and resource efficiency. It includes a range of effects like transparency, shadows, and animations, and it also supports tiling, stacking, and compositing.
  4. Mutter: Mutter is the default window manager for GNOME 3 and later. It's a compositing window manager that integrates closely with the GNOME desktop. It replaced Metacity in GNOME, introducing a more modern, visually appealing aesthetic and the Clutter toolkit for hardware-accelerated effects.
  5. Openbox: Openbox is a lightweight, minimalist window manager known for its configurability and standards compliance. It can run by itself or under KDE, GNOME, or XFCE, replacing their native window managers.
  6. i3: i3 is a tiling window manager, designed for power users and developers. It maximizes the use of screen real estate by tiling windows, ensuring they do not overlap. It's also notable for being entirely keyboard-driven, for efficiency.
  7. Awesome: Awesome is a dynamic window manager for X Windows. It's highly configurable and extensible in Lua and comes with a range of features like multiple and extensible status bars, a system tray, and support for multi-head setups.
  8. Xfwm: Xfwm is the window manager for the XFCE desktop environment. It's designed to be lightweight and fast, with a simplicity that adheres to the philosophy of XFCE. It supports a compositing feature that provides window shadows, transparency, and basic 2D animations.

Each of these window managers offers different features and aesthetic appeals, and the choice between them often comes down to user preference and the specific needs of the workstation.

Common Window Managers in Redhat Linux

There are many window managers for X. Although Enlightenment has many advantages, it does not fit everyone's preferences.
For instance, GNOME and Enlightenment tend to take up a large amount of memory. If your situation requires low overhead or a fast X session, there are alternative window managers you can use. The following table lists some common window managers along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Window Manager Main Advantages Main Disadvantages
Enlightenment Full featured; easy to configure; only fully GNOME-compliant window manager Takes large amounts of system resources
twm Clean treatment of interface; highly configurable; low memory operation Not many advanced features; not GNOME-compliant
fvwm2 Very conservative use of system resources; uses less memory than twm, but manages to add a 3-D look Not readily configurable through simple point-and-click methods
sawmill Easily extended and configured Limited functionality, as it is mostly used in association with GNOME
KDE Provides an alternative, unifying framework similar to GNOME; very easy to configure. KDE's window manager is kwm Similar to GNOME in its heavy resource usage
AnotherLevel A highly customized setup of fvwm2; very easy to configure Not as fully featured as GNOME or KDE

Select Window Manager

You can use the information in the table to select a window manager, but the only way to find out which window manager is best for your situation is to try them out. The next lesson shows you how to use the GNOME Control Center to select a window manager and edit configuration files.

Common Window Managers - Quiz

Before moving on to the next lesson, click the Quiz link below to check your understanding of common window managers.
Common Window Managers - Quiz