February 16, 2019

From the Desktop: F Stands For FVWM95 and fOX Project - page 3

The Saga of the Evil Twins

  • November 14, 2000
  • By Brian Proffitt

The very first time I started FVWM95, I thought my window manager utility had royally screwed up and loaded FVWM2 instead.

I mean, this was the same window manager!

On the surface, these two GUIs are indeed identical, and with good reason. FVWM95 is admittedly a direct hack of FVWM2. In fact, when FVWM2 is updated, much of the same changes have found their way into FVWM95.

So what's the point of choosing one over the other?

It is not aesthetics that will dictate your decision here, but rather how you think your code should work. The makers of FVWM95, led by lead hacker Hector Peraza, were not trying to build a new window manager as much as try to vastly improve the workings of an old one. The code for FVWM95, they maintain, is much leaner than the conventional FVWM2's code.

If this assertion is true, I could find no evidence of it, as there was no noticeable performance differences between the two.

When I first began research for this article, there was some question as to whether FVWM95 was even in active development. In fact, when I communicated with the FVWM2 developers, they were pretty sure the FVWM95 team no longer existed.

But Peraza maintains that FVWM95 is still alive and kicking, though active development has been put aside in favor of Peraza's latest work on the fOX Project.

The fOX Project is an effort to create a new set of libraries called the Xclass. The Xclass Toolkit will ideally give applications a Windows 95 look but will also provide programmers with a new design standard to use.

"Most of the effort right now is being put on the Xclass library," Peraza said. "The whole window manager is being rewritten using the library."

Like most of the smaller window managers, work on FVWM95 proceeds at a snail's pace, because for many of developers, this is a volunteer effort. In fact, looking at the Projects page on their Web site, many of fOX Project's activities have not been updated for years. There are some signs of life in some of the projects, though, so FVWM95 is still breathing.

Is FVWM95 a different window manager, or should it be lumped into the FVWM family altogether? Visually, you could make an excellent argument for the latter, but when it comes down to it, FVWM95 is another example of how open source will allow programmers' creativity to take code into an entirely new direction.

So FVWM95 isn't an evil twin after all.

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