| ## Running Window Maker as your X11 wm
## Jim Mock <>
If you run FreeBSD on your desktop system, or even dual-boot with another
OS, chances are you run X on it. You also probably have a favorite window
manager and spent some time setting it up just the way you like it. While
there are a bunch of different out there, this article will cover the one I use..
What is Window Maker?
Window Maker, written by Alfredo Kojima is an X11 window manager that
emulates the NeXTSTEP look and feel.
From the :
"Window Maker is an X11 window manager designed to give
additional integration support for GNUstep applications. It
tries to emulate the elegant look and feel of the NeXTSTEP(tm)
GUI. It is relatively fast, feature rich, and easy to
configure and use."
What features does Window Maker offer?
Some of the features of Window Maker include:
- Application dock that can be configured with drag and drop
- Workspace dock (the clip) which is a workspace specific dock extender
- KDE and GNOME friendly
- Built-in GUI configuration utility
- National language support
- Gradient support for menus and pixmaps
- Built-in icon dithering support for 4bit and 8bit displays
- Support for xpm, png, jpeg, tiff, gif, and ppm icons
- Built-in utility to set the root window background
What does it look like?
There are screenshots of window managers all over the web, including shots
of Window Maker. Some shots of my desktop are available on my
personal web site.
How do I install it?
So you've decided to give Window Maker a try and want to install it. The
easiest way to do it is probably through the Ports Collection. You can also
install the FreeBSD package, or compile and install the source code yourself.
The only installation method I'll be covering (for sake of time and space) is
via the Ports Collection.
The latest version in the Ports Collection (and the latest version
available at the time of writing) is 0.51.2. If you don't have the Ports
Collection installed, see the Newbie's Corner article written by Dan Langille in
Issue #2for instructions on installing it.
To install the Window Maker port, do the following as root:
# cd /usr/ports/x11-wm/windowmaker
# make install distclean
By adding distclean, you tell make to clean up the work directory and
delete the tarball from /usr/ports/distfiles. It's not required, just
something that will save some disk space. Feel free to drop distclean from
the make install command.
If you don't have the required dependencies installed, the port will fetch
and install them for you before building and installing Window Maker itself.
How do I run it?
Now that you've got it installed, you're going to want to run it. You'll
need to start by preparing your personal setup files for Window Maker.
You're probably thinking.. "How do I do that? What setup files?" Window
Maker comes with a script called 'wmaker.inst' to do it for you.
To run wmaker.inst, do the following as the user id you'll be running
Window Maker as. The files will be installed in that user's home directory.
For example, my user id is 'jim', so that's who I'd run wmaker.inst as.
The script will run and ask you a few questions along the way. After it's
finished, you'll have a ~/GNUstep directory in your home directory. Your
personal configuration files for Window Maker are in
~/GNUstep/Library/WindowMaker. That's where you'll find the menu, styles,
themes, backgrounds, etc., that you can configure to your tastes.
How do I add applications to the dock?
One of the most frequently asked questions about Window Maker is by folks
who want to add an icon to the dock. Most applications you run will create
an 'appicon' which resides at the bottom of the screen by default. To dock
that particular application, "grab" the appicon and drag it over to the dock.
When it's in a dockable position, a white box will show up on the dock.
Release the appicon there and it'll "snap" into place on the dock. To run
the application again, simply double-click the icon on the dock.
How do I remove applications from the dock?
To remove an application from the dock, simply drag the icon from the dock
into the middle of the screen and release it. The icon will vanish and it'll
be removed from the dock.
How do I get rid of appicons?
You might notice eventually that appicons begin to clutter your screen. To
disable the appicon of a specific application, do the following:
- Right-click on the title bar
- Choose Attributes
- Choose Application Specific from the menu
- Check the 'No application icon' box
- Click Apply then Save
- Close the Attributes pop-up window
- Repeat with other applications as desired
Doing the above will prevent an appicon from being generated for that
application and save some desktop space.
There are plenty more configuration tips, but those are probably the most
asked ones. They'll also be the only ones I cover in this article, otherwise
it'd be extremely long. For more, see the list of resources at the bottom of
Where can I get themes?
There are quite a few sites around that have some themes, but the most
popular has got to be http://wm.themes.org/. These guys have done an
excellent job with this site and have a huge amount of themes available (715
at the time of writing). Drop by and get your theme fix.
How do I install a theme?
Installing themes is quite easy. Do the following:
- Move the theme tarball to ~/GNUstep/Library/WindowMaker
- cd ~/GNUstep/Library/Windowmaker
- Uncompress the tarball
- Go to Appearance, then Themes in your Window Maker menu
- Enjoy your new theme =)
Here are some resources to help guide you on your way to configuring and
using Window Maker.
Return to Issue #4