April 22, 2019

Window Managers Explained


  • September 16, 1999
  • By Steve Singer

Many users who are new to Linux are unfamiliar with the term Window Manager. The concept of a window manager does not exist in the Microsoft Windows world but plays an important role in managing the look and feel of your Linux environment. This article will explain the role of a window manager and briefly talk about some popular window managers available.

What is a Window Manager

A window manager is the piece of software responsible for managing the different windows that appear on your screen. The window manager controls the placement of windows, draws the borders and scrollbars, and is responsible for ensuring that your X-Windows programs get along. A window manager is usually started after the X server finishes loading, which is the application responsible for drawing everything onto your screen. It is the window manager, however, that controls much of the look and feel of your X-Windows desktop. Usually window managers also allow you to launch applications. The attached diagram shows how the pieces fit together. Window managers sit between the X-Server and X-Windows applications, controlling the placements and look and feel of windows. It is possible to run X-Windows applications without a window manager, but it is rather crude and limiting.

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