an X11(aka X) window manager originally designed to provide integration support for the GNUstep Desktop Environment.

In every way possible, it reproduces the elegant look and feel of the NEXTSTEP(tm) user interface. It is fast, feature rich, easy to configure, and easy to use. It is also free software and part of the GNU Project, with contributions being made by programmers from around the world.

Window Maker includes compatibility options which allow it to work with other popular desktop environments, namely GNOME and KDE.

Source: the Window Maker WWW site,

In summer '99, I was a Hardcore FVWM2 User. An old wisdom says that you can spend a whole weekend customizing a FVWM2 titlebar, and I had done that.

I got a job at local museum - I needed to make a web page for them. I installed Debian on the work computer. Just for thrills, I didn't set up GNOME and fvwm2 for it - I picked Window Maker.

"Man, this thing sucks. It is... it is..."

Say it.


Kind of disappointing to see a program that's easy to use, light, stylish, overall very pleasurable - than your current solution that you have spent hours and hours on, and it still isn't as cool.

I installed that to my home machine too. And haven't regretted that.

Window Maker is very easy to use and configure. Now, while the title bars can't be customized that much to make it look weird (you can pick between two kinds of titlebars, that's all), it's still aesthetically pleasing, and colors/bitmaps can be picked too. And theme support is there, right out of box (even automated theme packaging is there!). And as for all other configurations (window behavior, etc), those are there too. Let's just say that it is almost as configurable as FVWM2 - and configurations can be done with a text editor as God intended, or with an easy to use or even more detailed separate application wmakerconf.

Window Maker's workspace support is pretty nice - the virtual desktop support of X has always been good and Window Maker doesn't make sacrifices. Alt+(number) changes workspaces, and the Clip (a widget that keeps application icons together; I believe this is called Fiend in NEXTSTEP) can be used to change between them, too.

For application launching, WM has an application menu (by default openable with right mouse button on top of the desktop). In Debian, it is automatically built from system menus, so that's always up to date without editors. Also, there's a Dock where running applications can be dragged to from the Clip and they can then be launched with a doubleclick. The Dock can also hold dockapps, that are basically small programs that run in dock. (Everyone loves asclock - yes, it existed before GNOME started it using as the panel clock =)

Overall, I think WM's app launching works better than any other application launching system I've ever seen; The Dock doesn't clutter the desk space, it stays down and doesn't obscure windows (unless you specifically want it to stay on top). Window Maker has learned its lessons from GNUStep and its heritage very well.

I use Window Maker with some GNOME tools as my primary desktop environment. It works very well.

It's stylish, it's easy, it's themable, it works well, it requires not much more computing muscle than fvwm2 - yes, Window Maker has been, as the slogan says, "my next window manager". Plus, it has a very descriptive name. =)

WindowMaker (I prefer it without the space. That's just the odd way I am) is the complete opposite to most other DEs out there, in that it is not configurable to any great extent.

Try this. Open up KDEs Control Center. Take a look around and find hundreds upon hundreds of options you'll probably never ever use, ever. Admit it: you won't. However you delude yourself, you will never use the kernel configurator. And you use GRUB, so the point of the LILO screen is lost. Everything is far too configurable. It's overwhelming. Contrast this with WindowMaker: the WindowMaker theming approach is to have some tiles scattered about, maybe a title bar pixmap and that's it. Oh, and a background image. These are supplied by a theme package, as well-can't really mix and match. The WindowMaker preferences applet is a work of art: options very well laid out and well signposted. The menu editor is easy to use: select it and a menu pops up, which you drag items onto to use. Heaven.

I'm actually willing to bet that a Linux distribution based around WindowMaker with special configuration tools, like Red Hat's, would probably be easier for newbies. It's minimalist. You can show the newbie how icons appear at the bottom of the screen, and can be manipulated; dragging an icon to the dock rather than having to go into a menu, find the application menu item and drag it onto a panel seems far more logical, does it not? Show them how to open applications from the root menu. Show them how to change windows using the middle mouse button or wheel. It just plain makes more sense than Windows and the clones like KDE and GNOME. And it's much, much faster to boot. And dockapps...who doesn't like dockapps?

Any budding Linux distributors want to give this a go? Maybe a Gentoo based system, Portage already set up with X and WindowMaker...mmm. (/me sets to work).
More factual details now. WindowMaker is a very, very minimalist DE modeled around the NeXTStep design by NeXT. Yes, this means it shares sort of the same foundations as OS X, and the dock in OS X actually seems to be a lot like the WindowMaker dock. On starting a default WM set up, you get a few icons on the right hand side of the screen and a clip in the top left corner of the screen. The right hand side is the dock: open programs have icons in the lower left corner of the screen which can be dragged onto the dock to become permanent fixtures, like KDE panel buttons. Right clicking on the desktop opens the root menu, which is basically an application menu-infinitely customisable through the WindowMaker preferences applet. Middle clicking on the desktop opens up a menu with a list of open windows, which can be selected from. If you're accustomed to KDE, GNOME or Windows this feels very different, but as above it becomes second nature and seems much more logical.

Dockapps are one of WindowMakers main strengths: instead of having an open window and a little icon in the lower left, dockapps have just a little display in the lower left, which can be dragged to the dock to show anything: my personal favourites are WMFire (which shows your CPU usage as a burning flame, which gets more vicious as you use more CPU time) WMMemLoad (Just a memory indicator) Docker (A KDE/GNOME system tray for WindowMaker, very useful) and WMBinClock (a binary clock). There are hundreds available at, far more than any sane person would need. A lot of them are pointless-a lot are genuinely useful in the extreme.

Give it a go, you may just love it.
Inspired by doing a poster about WindowMaker for a GCSE IT DTP project...34/40, suck it :)

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