Grumpy Editor - lightweight window managers please!
Posted Feb 21, 2007 16:42 UTC (Wed) by cantsin
In reply to: Grumpy Editor - lightweight window managers please!
Parent article: Xfce 4.4: The best lightweight desktop environment (Linux.com)
Please let's not confuse window managers and desktop environments. A window
manager, in the narrow sense, only decorates, places and resizes X11
windows. (Examples would be aewm, sawfish, evilwm, ratpoison, ion, but also
xfwm, Gnome's metacity and KDE's kwin). A number of "window managers"
stretch that definition by also providing in-process panels, taskbars,
docks, or application menus (fvwm, Window Maker,
black/flux/openbox, icewm being perhaps the most popular examples). In a
desktop environment however, these components run
as separate processes. On top of that, a desktop environment also includes
graphical file management, typically also desktop icons and last not least
graphical setup menus, with configuration changes being effective on the
fly as opposed to restarting a wm. The single components of a desktop
environment have a consistent look and feel and can interact via
drag-and-drop, thanks to a common GUI toolkit and the use of mechanisms/APIs
such as those of freedesktop.org.
For the end user, the
main difference between a WM - even a WM that accomplish more than pure
management - and a DE is that the latter is fully and consistently
operable through the GUI, never throwing users back to the command line for
standard tasks like file management and desktop configuration. To my
knowledge, only KDE, Gnome and XFCE match those criteria of a genuine
environment in the Unix-compatible, X11-based free software world. And
among those three, XFCE is the only one that restrains itself to being just
a desktop, and not a complete middleware layer with, among others, its own
component architecture and massive set of DE-specific libraries and demons.
So it is more than just a window manager on the one hand. On the other, in
comparison to Gnome and KDE, it is very much like Galeon and later Firefox
to the older, heavier, integrated Mozilla suite (now Seamonkey). Just like
Galeon had the slogan "the web and only the web", XFCE could deservedly
claim to be "the desktop and only the desktop". I wouldn't be surprised if
what proved to be a winning formula for free software web browsers could
also become a success formula for the free software desktop. With version
4.4, XFCE achieves for the desktop what the first stable versions of Galeon
and Firefox achieved for web browsing.
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