The X Window System in .NET

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8 The X Window System
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If you decide not to use either KDE or GNOME, a variety of X Window system window managers are available. Essentially, your choice is about balancing beauty against simplicity. If resources are limited, one of the fairly minimal window managers may suit you. Also, if you are in the habit of starting everything from the command line, then complex menus and icons may not be so useful to you. At the very minimal end of the spectrum, TWM and MWM provide an environment where you can start an xterm and do everything else from there. Apart from the ability to move and minimize and maximize windows, there is not a great deal of other functionality. On the other hand, a window manager such as Enlightenment offers complex menus, a great deal of configurability, and a lot of eye candy, but uses a good deal of resource and lacks the nice built-in file management capabilities of GNOME and KDE. Window managers such as IceWM and Blackbox fall somewhere in between the two extremes. In general, if you use one of these window managers you are going to find yourself spending a fair amount of time doing configuration to get the look and feel the way you want and the menus the way you want: At least some of this work will be spent editing text files by hand.
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MWM (the Motif Window Manager) is minimalism in action (see Figure 8-6). If you are installing a server and you just need to have X available so that (for example) you can run the graphical Oracle installer later, you may choose the Minimal + X11 installation option, which uses the FVWM2 window manager by default but also installs MWM. Figure 8-6 shows the MWM window manager.
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Figure 8-6: MWM
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Part II The SUSE System
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A good site for additional information about the Motif Window Manager is xwinman/mwm.html.
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Blackbox (see Figure 8-7) is elegant minimalism of the less is more school of thought. Based on the window manager provided on NeXT computer systems (NeXTStep), Blackbox is a powerful and elegant window manager.
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Figure 8-7: Blackbox A good site for additional information about the Blackbox window manager is The Openbox window manager is based on Blackbox and also included with SUSE Professional (see also openbox/).
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IceWM is very configurable in terms of the look and feel of window decorations and menus, and offers a start button and cascading menus. It also offers multiple desktops and the capability to switch between them by clicking a panel applet. A good site for additional information about the IceWM window manager is http:// IceWM is a great window manager with low resource requirements.
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8 The X Window System
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XFCE is in a similar tradition but has a launcher panel rather than menus. It comes with its own file manager called xftree. XFCE is actually more of a low-resource desktop environment than a simple window manager because it provides lightweight functionality for drag and drop and other desktop capabilities. The primary web site for XFCE is
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Window Maker
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Window Maker has some strong advocates; it offers themes, menus, and icons, and is based on the look and feel of the NeXTStep environment. The primary web site for Window Maker is
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FVWM (see Figure 8-8) is another old favorite. In the early days of Linux it tended to be the default. It has a launcher rather than cascading menus, and multiple desktops with a nice desktop pager.
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Figure 8-8: FVWM For more information, go to
Configuring the System with YaST
USE has always had a great configuration tool, YaST. Over the years it has moved from being a small configuration tool to being able to control system services configuration and X configuration. With each release iteration, the module s integration into YaST grows, and SUSE 9.1 is no different. YaST (yet another setup tool) can be executed in either a terminaloriented, non-graphical mode or an X Window system mode, the difference being that one is purely text-based menus for remote configuration and the other is a GUI running under X. With SUSE 9.1, SUSE has released the source code for YaST under the General Public License (GPL) license. As we discussed in the Introduction, this has been a bone of contention because people felt it restricted the distribution of the SUSE operating system. With the release of YaST under GPL, it means that the powerful configuration modules can now be ported to other versions of Linux. Other distributions do not have the wealth and breadth of configuration modules for system configuration as YaST does, so we hope this will help speed up the use of Linux by both home users and enterprise deployments. With the recent acquisition of SUSE by Novell, the technologies from both companies should be able to take YaST to a much higher and more centralized configuration management infrastructure.
Note We talk about YaST in GUI mode in this chapter, but the differences between YaST on the command line and YaST under X are only cosmetic. YaST has been designed so that regardless of the way you view it, the functionality is the same.