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Desktop Resources

* X
* Window Managers

Related Resources:

Revision / Modified: Sep. 24, 2001
Author: Tom Berger


Some explanation of terms: 'X' is the graphical environment for GNU/Linux, a suite of programs. In contrast to operating system like Windows or Mac Os, it is not an integral part of the operating system itself, it's just an add-on.
To make sufficient use of X, you will need a window manager or a desktop environment like KDE or GNOME.
Desktop environments aren't window managers. They provide another layer between X and a window manager, e.g. for things like drag 'n' drop, a common look and feel etc. Whereas KDE comes with its own default window manager, kwin, GNOME doesn't. You can use any window manager on top of these environments as long as they are compatible with ('aware of') them. Or you can skip the extra layer and run a manager directly on 'X'.
KDE and GNOME come with their own set of programs. You can run these programs on every environment / manager, provided you have the basic libraries of the environment those apps were written for installed.

* X

Also referred to as XFree86, X11 or X Window System.
If you are looking for a quick way to make yourself unpopular with senior GNU/Linux users, call it 'X Windows' ;-).

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The 'Kool' Desktop Environment is still the default desktop for the Mandrake-Linux distribution. Therefore many questions are related to topics KDEish. If you think you have such a question consider using KDE specific resources first because they are much more likely to wield good results.

  • The KDE main page. For all kinds of news, support, documentation etc. Check out their KDE 2.2.1 Info Page for updates and a list of frequently asked questions. There's also an FAQ.

  •, a portal for KDE users.

  • KDot is the central KDE news and discussion site.

  • Homepage of KOffice, the KDE office suite.
    This is only one of a growing range of official KDE sites, have a look at thelinks section of for a complete listing.

  • The usual bunch of mailing lists. I wouldn't advise subscribing to kde-user, though, unless you have plenty of time at hand and a large mailbox ;-) (and even if you have, you better subscribe to a Mandrake list...). I found 'kde-announce' quite useful.

  • The KDE mailing lists archive. Very well organized and with a decent search function. This is the No 1 resource when having trouble with KDE.

  • The Usenet newsgroup German users might prefer de.alt.comp.kde

  • The Mandrake CD comes with the KDE Quick Start Guide, the KDE FAQ and the KDE User Guide (just follow the 'documentation' link in your desktop menu). Note that the KDE FAQ included naturally is less up to date than the online version of the KDE FAQ.

  • More KDE related links.

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The 'other' desktop environment for GNU/Linux. After a fairly shaky start GNOME has now caught up with KDE in terms of stability and usability.

  • The GNOME main site. Looks nice. News, docs, software map etc.

  • Latest GNOME news are posted to and discussed on Gnotices.

  • Ximian offers a repackaged version of GNOME, appropriately called Ximian GNOME. Other offers include the 'Integrated Workgroup and Personal Information Management Solution' Ximian Evolution.

  • Another bunch of mailing lists and their respective - search-able - archives.

  • The GNOME team is working on an office suite, too, called GNOME Office.

  • If you are interested in the technology behind GNOME, have a look at The GNOME White Papers, along with lots of other useful stuff for developers at GNOME's development site.

  • Mandrake comes with the GNOME Users Guide. If you want to give GNOME a try, you most certainly want to install and read this one. Also have a look at the GNOME FAQ, lots of info there.

  • More GNOME related links.

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* Window Managers

Without them, you won't be able to see anything on X. There arelots of them out there, some of them are compatible to either KDE or GNOME (or even both), some of them are not. Of course you can still run KDE and GNOME apps on them. Using a 'simple' manager instead of a full-blown 'environment' can save you quite a bit of system resources.


  • Window Managers for X. This site offers a comprehensive list of window managers along with screen shots, descriptions and links.

  • Themes.Org. Everything to make your manager look even prettier. Some themes are perfect in slowing down X to a scrawl, though ...

A small selection of managers:

  • AfterStep. A classic which tries to mimic the NextSTEP Look and Feel. Derived from 'Bowman' which in turn derived from 'FVWM'. You'll find on your Mandrake CD. Neither GNOME nor KDE compatible. Small memory footprint.

  • Blackbox. Designed for speed. Minimal KDE support, no GNOME support. I'm using it on older machines. You might also be interested in FluxBox which adds some nifty features to BlackBox.

  • Enlightenment ('E'). If you're a in it for the looks, that's the one for you. It is however still in its early development stages. Compatible with GNOME and KDE in newer releases.

  • FVWM. The mother of all window managers ;-). Still to be configured via text-files, but arguably the most configurable window manager out there. At least compatible with GNOME (not sure about KDE). On your Mandrake CD.

  • IceWM. The master of disguise. If you're looking for a manager that makes X look like the interface for another operating system, get this one. GNOME compatible. On your Mandrake CD. There's also a light version (icewm-light) with minimal features.

  • QVWM. For those who want to have their X looking exactly like MS-Windows9x (including task bar and start menu)... No compatibility.

  • Sawfish. Sawfish has taken the place of E as the window manager of choice for the GNOME desktop. It is a rather minimalistic manager and therefore better suited for running in an environment than E.

  • Window Maker. A medium-sized, small, quite fast, easy configurable, compatible window manager. An offshoot of the AfterStep WM. That's the window manager I'm using most of time.

  • wm2. Arguably the smallest manager available: no icons, no extensible root menus, toolbars, reconfigurability. So, what's the use? Well if you just need to start X to run some big app or game (like 'Civ: CTP'), wm2 will leave you with as much free memory as possible. It has a bigger brother with some more features, called wmx.

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Legal: All texts on this site are covered by the GNU Free Documentation License. Standard disclaimers of warranty apply. Copyright LSTB (Tom Berger) and Mandrakesoft 1999-2002.