April 22, 2019

From the Desktop: Derailing the Alphabet - page 2

The History of Motif

  • December 12, 2000
  • By Brian Proffitt

I regard the OpenLook Window Manager (OLWM) with some degree of nostalgia, since it was the first X window interface I ever used, 'way back in the days when this Hoosier boy scurried through the streets of Manhattan to work for the IEEE.

OLWM was a window manager that appeared on the desktops of SunOS and Solaris machines until it was replaced by (you guessed it) Motif and CDE. It was and still is a pretty tight interface.

OLWM (and its sibling OLVWM) is a menu-driven window manager that puts a lot of power in the right mouse button, but not the other two buttons.

For instance, in the root window, clicking the left or center mouse buttons just brings up a wire frame for collecting windows together. The wire frame you define by dragging collects the windows together and seems to be useful for moving windows as a group.

Pressing the right mouse button brings up a Workspace menu of applications and submenus, which can be pinned to the screen. I have no beef with lefties, but this surely is an odd way to run a railroad.

OLVWM is identical to OLWM in every way, save that it uses a virtual desktop larger than your actual screen size. It also supports additional graphic formats (such as GIFs) for icon use. I found this a pleasant addition, but nothing to write home about.

It should be noted that to properly run these window managers, you are going to need to lay your hands on the Open Look libraries. RPM and DEB packages are available to get everything you need.

Active development on OLWM has been discontinued, because it is owned by Sun Microsystems. However, some programmers may still be plugging away at OLVWM. Version 4.4 is available on the site of Scott Oaks, though it is uncertain whether development is still ongoing.

If you used the old OpenLook environment, you may find these window managers a good way to get some of that experience back on your Linux desktop. Other window managers that are in a more current state of repair might be your cup of tea.

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