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kalambong



Joined: 08 Nov 2008
Posts: 165
kalambong
I am interested to know which window manager you like / hate that runs on Linux, and why

I'm trying to fix couple old computers (pentium 4) for a group of senior citizens, and install Linux on the machine, I don't really know which window manager to choose

Thanks in advance Very Happy
Post 25 Aug 2009, 07:42
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YONG



Joined: 16 Mar 2005
Posts: 8000
Location: 22° 15' N | 114° 10' E
YONG
I'm using Openbox. Reason: It comes with SliTaz GNU/Linux. Wink
Post 25 Aug 2009, 08:33
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TmX



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 821
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
TmX
I use XFCE and FVWM. I think FVWM consumes less resource, but a bit hard to configure...
Post 25 Aug 2009, 10:03
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 1154
ManOfSteel
Hate? None, really.

Use: xfwm (Xfce's WM), but not on Linux though. It's a relatively complete DE that is still simple (not minimalistic) and light compared to the 2 main mastodont leaders (that I won't name).

Like: FVWM (designed to be customizable to the max), TWM (yeah, really!), any boxen (especially Fluxbox, and Openbox if you want real minimalism).


A P4 should [u]easily[/] be able to run any of those, including the Xfce DE, without any problem. But it may also depend on RAM.
Post 25 Aug 2009, 11:11
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Borsuc



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 2466
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Borsuc
is there a linux distro with a window manager that looks and is as lightweight as Windows Classic theme? I'm tired of all the "awesome" looking bloat out there.

if not, how hard is it to install a window manager (i.e what must be modified, etc)? remember, regard it for someone with no experience in *nix whatsoever (not even the basic commands).

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Post 25 Aug 2009, 14:40
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 1154
ManOfSteel
Generally you don't change your system/distro just because you dislike the WM or base your choice of system/distro (if you don't already use a *nix system) on the sole appearance of the WM.
The whole Xorg server, with Xlib, with the toolkits (Athena, GTK*, QT, etc.), with the WM are all just "userland" programs (i.e. they're not part of the base system) so you can easily install one or the other. Heck! You could even install 10 of them at the same time if you like.

FVWM (and many others) can be customized to look like anything, from Aqua to the Windows 9x/XP+ interface. You can also try FVWM95 for a 9x-like interface. There's also QVWM.
I'm sure I missed many others.

Other WMs have themes that look like Windows. For instance xfwm has the Redmond and RedmondXP styles.
But of course this only changes the themeable parts of windows, not the widgets themselves, whose appearance is defined by the toolkit used by a specific application.

How you de/install software depends on the system, as well as whether you're compiling from source (using a port tree of some sort) or installing a binary version of the software.

As for "what to change?", I'll give you - pardon me for that - the usual "Read The Fabulous Manual" that you'd get anywhere else for asking such a broad question.
There are literally *hundreds* of WMs out there, each with its own dot file/directory, each with its own "internal language", each with its own specific settings. You can easily get your answers by checking the online documentation or the WM's man page if it has one.
Post 25 Aug 2009, 15:30
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Borsuc



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 2466
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Borsuc
I meant how do you specify in Linux a window manager to automatically load on startup and not the terminal, for instance, stuff like that. Are these hard? (like in Windows where you have to get into the registry).

Anyway I am mainly interested in being as lightweight as Windows Classic, not necessarily in looking like it -- if it looks like it but wastes 2x more memory because it's an "emulation" I won't like it. However if it wastes LESS then I'm all for it! (the whole system when loaded up should use no more than 60MB, excluding drivers of course, over which Linux has no control (but the device manufacturers have)).

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Post 25 Aug 2009, 16:25
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TmX



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 821
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
TmX
Like this?

Image
Post 26 Aug 2009, 03:59
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revolution
When all else fails, read the source


Joined: 24 Aug 2004
Posts: 17348
Location: In your JS exploiting you and your system
revolution
What is the obsession with Xeyes in Linux? Where is it useful? Is it just to give Linux a "wow" factor?
Post 26 Aug 2009, 04:06
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TmX



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Posts: 821
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
TmX
revolution wrote:
What is the obsession with Xeyes in Linux? Where is it useful? Is it just to give Linux a "wow" factor?


not really usefull, but it's pretty cute Wink
Post 26 Aug 2009, 04:21
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 1154
ManOfSteel
Borsuc wrote:
I meant how do you specify in Linux a window manager to automatically load on startup and not the terminal, for instance, stuff like that.

Ah, that! In general there's a /etc/ttys file or something similar that defines the different types of terminals (virtual or not). You have one line per terminal and each one usually runs a program like getty (get teletype) that in turn runs login to ask for your username/password. Instead of running getty, you could simply run Xorg's default display manager XDM. In simple terms, a display manager starts and manages sessions, i.e. it's some sort of a graphical getty/login combination. You would then make a .xsession file (in your home directory), which simply executes your WM. Then, you're good to go: everytime you boot the system, XDM is executed on the virtual terminal you specified, it asks for your username/password and on success executes your WM.
More "advanced" DMs for desktop environments (e.g. GDM for GNOME) can be ran just by adding a line to startup files. But I have some feeling you're not going to use an "advanced" DE.

Borsuc wrote:
Are these hard? (like in Windows where you have to get into the registry)

Yes, there are many files like Windows registry: huge blobs of binary data that normal humans could not possibly read. They like all those obscure, hermetic things in the OSS community. Just kidding, all configuration files are plain text files that you can edit with any kind of editor. And usually, options are described in a man page or in the rc/conf file itself.

Borsuc wrote:
Anyway I am mainly interested in being as lightweight as Windows Classic, not necessarily in looking like it -- if it looks like it but wastes 2x more memory because it's an "emulation" I won't like it. However if it wastes LESS then I'm all for it

Contrary to what you might think, this is a very complicated matter. It depends on the tools/features you want. A WM is not everything. You may also need/want a desktop manager, a panel (the taskbar in Windows jargon) if the WM doesn't already provide one, a tray, etc.
What about the applications you want to use everyday? You may want graphical applications or you may prefer text applications (that you can run from a terminal emulator). You may choose applications that use different toolkits and that would use a lot of memory, or you may use only one toolkit and you'd have a lot of shared memory.
You should also understand that some of these systems are made with the "free memory is wasted memory" design principle in mind, and will use as many memory as they can for caching and buffering and you'd *easily* think "OMFG, I have no MB of memory left".
Really, you may want to give the system a try. Try different WMs and stick with the one you like more for its feel, usability, memory footprint, etc. Then try the many different applications that you can find in a specific category until you find the "right" one.

Borsuc wrote:
the whole system when loaded up should use no more than 60MB

Hmm, right now I've got 84M active, 98M inactive, 74M wired, 72K cache, 46M buffer.
I'm running the DE, Opera, two instances of a text editor, a few toolbar utilities and a daemonized torrent client.

Borsuc wrote:
excluding drivers of course, over which Linux has no control

Some drivers come from the corporations themselves in binary format only. But many others are coded by OSS programmers.


Last edited by ManOfSteel on 26 Aug 2009, 11:10; edited 2 times in total
Post 26 Aug 2009, 11:06
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 1154
ManOfSteel
TmX wrote:
but it's pretty cute

Hehe, especially when they're bloody exophthalmic eyes! Twisted Evil
Post 26 Aug 2009, 11:07
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Borsuc



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 2466
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Borsuc
Thanks for clarifying further ManOfSteel.

But when I said it should use no more than 60MB, that is the system startup. In windows, caching doesn't use up memory (even if it does use the RAM) because it is deallocated as it is needed and there's no more free space.

I have 4GB of RAM but I don't want the system to use it for flashy effects, I want my apps, virtual ramdrive, and caching to use it. I didn't say I only use 60MB, I said that the system on startup (no app loaded except the system and drivers, and window manager, desktop etc) should use no more than 60MB.

Mind you, less memory on startup also means less startup time, which is a bonus. In Windows XP, of course, I had to deactivate a lot of crappy services I don't need to achieve this.

In short I want to use my RAM with what I want, not the Operating System!

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Post 26 Aug 2009, 15:11
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 1154
ManOfSteel
You may achieve this... depending on the system you choose, how you configure it, what kernel modules you load, the WM you choose, the WM's features/tools you add, etc. These conditions are all just for what you consider to be the "system".

These systems do not use ANY effect, "flashy" or other. They're purely utilitarian command-line systems primarily designed for serving content over networks. They can't afford anything useless.
As for WMs, if you try those mentioned above (or many others) you'll hardly find any effect at all either. And in virtually all the others, compositing, anti-aliasing, etc. can be disabled.

What do you mean by memory vs. R(andom)A(ccess)M(emory)? Isn't it the same? Maybe you mean kernel memory vs. RAM (total physical memory)?
Where is caching going to be if not in... memory?

And of course any OS that deserves being called that name reallocates memory that was previously used as cache or any memory that can be swapped, as the need arises.
Post 26 Aug 2009, 18:49
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Borsuc



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 2466
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Borsuc
By memory I mean allocated memory -- that is, memory that can't be deallocated if needed. For example, if you have 2 GB of "memory" and 100MB left, and you run an app needing 500MB, you will run "out of memory"!

If you have 2 GB of "cache", and 100MB left, and you run an app needing 500MB, you will not run out of memory because the cache isn't actually allocated, the app will simply use chunks from the cache (oldest probably).

See what I'm saying?
In Windows, the cache doesn't even appear in the "Used Memory" in the Task Manager because it's not "memory used" or so! (not sure how to explain it)

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Post 26 Aug 2009, 23:02
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
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ManOfSteel
What you're saying is not quite right. Allocated memory can be "deallocated". That's called ...swapping. Okay, "reclaimed" might be a better term, but still...

If you have 100MBs of physical memory left and you need 500, you don't really run out of memory. Instead, the memory manager scans the page hierarchy (directories > tables > pages), finds 500MBs worth of pages that haven't been accessed for the last X slices, and pages them out to disk.
500MBs is relatively easy to find in a 2GBs physical memory as the system usually only really needs hundreds of MBs at most. Of course, in such conditions, you may later suffer a bit from thrashing.

What really counts is wired memory, and precisely THAT, Windows' task manager doesn't show!
Post 27 Aug 2009, 07:46
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Azu



Joined: 16 Dec 2008
Posts: 1159
Azu
Swapping something to a pagefile on disk is not the same as it using less memory, and is absolutely horrible for performance.

It still uses the same amount of memory, but that memory is on hard disk drive rather than DDR2/DDR3..
Post 27 Aug 2009, 08:09
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ManOfSteel



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 1154
ManOfSteel
Azu wrote:
Swapping something to a pagefile on disk is not the same as it using less memory

I don't recall saying otherwise. I never said swapping was like compression or something. I said when a program needs more space, the memory manager reclaims pages from non-wired memory, especially inactive+cache memory (i.e. pages that have not been accessed for some time and are thus swappable) and allocates them for the program's use.

Azu wrote:
and is absolutely horrible for performance.

... which can be mitigated by powerful processing and high HDD RPM.
Besides, if one of your programs suddenly needs 500 additional MBs, you're most probably not browsing the web or listening to your favorite songs, but more likely doing some memory intensive work like video processing, 3D or music rendering, etc. (... or gaming) and you probably won't be reusing immediately the swapped pages on and off, and therefore thrashing will be minimal.
Now of course if you're swapping all day long, it may be time to add more physical memory.

Azu wrote:
It still uses the same amount of memory, but that memory is on hard disk drive rather than DDR2/DDR3..

Shocked
Post 27 Aug 2009, 09:49
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Azu



Joined: 16 Dec 2008
Posts: 1159
Azu
I doubt any amount of RPM will get you ~2ns latency..
Post 27 Aug 2009, 10:20
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Borsuc



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 2466
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Borsuc
ManOfSteel wrote:
What you're saying is not quite right. Allocated memory can be "deallocated". That's called ...swapping. Okay, "reclaimed" might be a better term, but still...

If you have 100MBs of physical memory left and you need 500, you don't really run out of memory. Instead, the memory manager scans the page hierarchy (directories > tables > pages), finds 500MBs worth of pages that haven't been accessed for the last X slices, and pages them out to disk.
I disabled disk paging completely.

And yes I'm not going to "torture" my harddrive with it, better live with the "out of memory" message so I can do something about it Laughing

But anyway caching is like "unused" space in the HDD filesystem: it is there for performance, but once that space is needed, it can be discarded -- and not swapped to disk! Just simply discarded because it isn't important information, it's just there for performance reasons. That's what I've been trying to say.

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Post 27 Aug 2009, 14:10
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