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The StartX Files: U Stands for UDE and Uncharted Territories
Yes, we know that UDE isn't really a window manager....
February 13, 2001
I have almost decided that holding a contest to pick a column name is something I should do every week. I got lots of nice e-mails and a lot of good suggestions. Two people sent in the suggestion, though, which tickled my fancy the most. And, since I love to have my fancy tickled, I am rewarding them both with a boxed set of the distribution of their choice.
So, Daniele Tosti of Milano, Italy gets a copy of the Official Slackware Linux CD set from Walnut Creek and Aaron Estrada of Van Nuys, California will receive a copy of SuSE Linux 7.1 Personal Edition. Honorable mentions must go out to a guy named Collin for Desktopia, and to Larry, who sent an anagram of "From the Desktop": "Fed The Most Pork." Thank goodness I don't keep kosher.
Changing the name of the column is a refreshing, almost enlightening experience. I feel as if I can now break new ground, venture forth into new, uncharted territories. I could actually have the word "edgy" applied to me, in a way that isn?t synonymous with "paranoid."
But most likely I'll keep churning out the same old stuff. After all, we Hoosiers tend to stick to our ways., and I didn't see a pay raise come in with the new name....
UDE Tries Something New
Before I get e-mails telling me that UDE is not a window manger and I have to politely thank people for being so anal that they have nothing better to do with their lives than e-mail me and correct my misperceptions of the universe instead of doing something really useful and e-mailing me with the passwords to the White House servers so I can slip little notes in to Dubya's fileserver, let me say this: I know UDE is not a window manager. That distinction belongs to UWM, UDE's window manager. But right now UDE is comprised of just UWM and little else. Thus, for the purposes of this article, I am going to treat them as one.
It's that edgy writer in me.
Debian users will be more likely to have run across the UNIX Desktop Environment, since it's been offered on that distro for some time now. If you haven't seen UDE yet, I would suggest to you that you venture over to the UDE site and get a copy of it for yourself.
That being said, what is it about UDE that makes it so special?
Aesthetically, UDE is not as full of eye-candy as GNOME, though there are some interesting looking themes available. There are also some workflow occurrences that make dealing with UDE a bit like dealing with my seven-year old: smart, but apt to get wacky on you every once in a while.
The first smart/wacky feature I found (by accident) was navigation the multiple desktops. This is done by holding the left mouse button and then clicking the right, which moves you forward a desktop. Holding the left and clicking the center button moves you back. It makes sense after the fact, but its one of those quirky things that makes you really buy into the UDE development team's slogan: "UDE--Get used to it!"
The development team has also worked a bit of interface magic with the window control tool. Instead of the typical drop-down menu in the upper-left corner of the window, in UDE all you have to do is click on any part of the window border to see a six-button "honeycomb" control that will iconify, minimize, maximize, and otherwise control that window. It took me a minute to figure out what each icon did, but after I grooved to it, it made a lot of sense, too.
One other thing that makes sense about UDE is the fact that this C-based desktop environment does not use QT or GTK+ libraries. Instead, it manages quite well using the standard Xlibs. The development team claims this lends more speed to the GUI. I certainly can't dispute that, because when I ran it, UDE clipped right along.