March 20, 2019

From the Desktop: M Stands for MLVWM and Memories - page 2

Moving Forward

  • December 5, 2000
  • By Brian Proffitt

The very first thing I did when I saw MLVWM was take a step back and say "what the?" Despite my affinity for Apples, it has been a long time since I saw a Mac interface on a computer I owned, so it took some getting used to.

The last time anything remotely similar had occurred was when I played around with the StarOffice preferences and turned the whole thing into a Mac emulation. That lasted all of three minutes.

MLVWM can easily be categorized as one of those window managers that pays homage to the interfaces of the past. It acts just like a Macintosh interface, right down to the Special menu command in the task menu.

MLVWM was created by Takashi Hasegawa, a programmer now working for Hitachi Cable in Japan.

Hasegawa created the MLVWM interface (which stands for Macintosh-like virtual window manager, of course) and released the code to the public back in 1998, when he was still a student.

Superficially, the interface is a lot like a Mac, but configuring this interface is not as simple as other window managers. After some time poking around trying to find the configuration files or documentation that could lead me to these files, I had to give up.

What comes out of the binary box, therefore, is a menu-driven system that changes to reflect the menus native to a given application, just as Macs do. In lieu of configuring the menus, I found it suitable to start a console and run everything from there, but I felt rather silly doing this. I wondered how a novice would cope with this interface when I, an intermediate-level techie, was having problems.

Hasegawa created this window manager purely out a desire to emulate the Mac interface, he told me in an online interview.

MLVWM is actually based on "a very old version of FVWM," Hasegawa revealed, and is written entirely in C.

This is a solo project for Hasegawa, too. He is the sole developer on the project, though every once in a while someone will send him a patch that he'll include in the body of the code.

Even though this is a solo project, Hasegawa maintains big plans for his window manager. In the future, he hopes to add GNOME-compliancy to the list of MLVWM features, as well as more APIs for additional applications to get written for MLVWM.

If you love Macs, and I personally know you're out there, then you might like to give MLVWM a spin around the block. Don't look for anything robust though; its homage to the Mac interface still needs some work for now.

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