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From the Desktop: Q Stands For QVWM and Quality Sarcasm

Yearning for Windows?

January 2, 2001

If you made a list of all of the things the average Linux user does not like, I am sure Windows, in any flavor, is somewhere high on that list. You could also throw Linux fonts on, as well as those temptresses at the BSD booths at nearly every computer conference...oh, wait, what am I saying?

Windows, though we hate it, has done some good for the computing world at large. No, I haven't gone giddy with champagne from New Year's. While I don't think we should kneel down and bow to Redmond as the Great Be All End All, we can and should acknowledge some positive things Microsoft has done for us.

Microsoft has perfected the use of the call-in technical support to get things fixed. I mean, only in the 21st Century could we call someone on the phone and have them not help us fix something. In the old days, you had to take your broken thing to a local repair shop to have it fixed. How inconvenient.

Uniformity is something else Microsoft has promoted. Not since the days of wearing Don Johnson's Miami Vice fashions have so many people participated in the same look. In a related statistic, the color teal now ranks high on the list of favorite colors by a majority of the population of the G7 nations.

Thanks to Microsoft, terms like "crash" and "blue screen of death" have now entered the common English vernacular. The word "frozen" has gained in popularity, particularly within the tropic locales.

Can you believe all the really great things Microsoft Windows has accomplished? Boy, I sure can't.

When we look back at all of the things that Windows has brought us, it's a wonder we are seeing such a big migration to other operating systems like Linux.

Go figure.

It must be an homage to Windows, then, that motivated the developers of QVWM to make this X window manager look identical to the old Windows 95 interface.

I went into this one a bit blind, I must admit. I had never even heard of QVWM before I fired it up for this review. There's nothing in the name in English that would tip someone off that this window manager looks and feels like Windows. For a moment I thought my girls had moved their Windows machine into my office as a practical joke. Good grief, what a start I got!

According to the QVQM Web site, the name actually comes from a play on some non-English characters. The English "Q" stands for "9," which has the same pronunciation in Japanese, and "V" for "5," as in the Roman numeral.

The developers intended this window manager to bridge the gap for Windows users to use X, and for diehard X users to get used to Windows. (Like this is a hard transition.)

Still, the first idea is not a bad one, and if you have to mimic Windows, you might as well do it right.

Except for the fonts, almost everything about the screen looks like Windows. It even uses the same pixmaps for icons, except that they're inverted horizontally.

Like Windows, there's Alt+Tab window switching capability, which is nothing new to X, but still is nice for migrant Window users. Windows can be moved and sized like any other window manager, and there's even a frightenly familiar dialog box that pops up when you exit QVWM.

This window manager will eventually go way beyond just a superficial look, too. The developers are currently working on a complete class library called libqv that will allow for the creation of even more Win95/Win98-looking apps.

Is there a place for QVWM in the Linux community? As much as I'd like to make a snide comment about Windows-like interfaces, the simple truth is that there will be a number of non-technical users who could benefit from the ease of transition to X.

And, let's face it, there's room in the pantheon of interfaces in the Linux arena for any kind of interface: even Windows.

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