March 24, 2019

From the Desktop: T is for twm and Tracking Originality - page 2

Recycling old texts

  • January 23, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

When you look at twm, it's not exactly an easy thing to get excited about. Having to manually place a window on the desktop when ever that window is started up can get really old in a hurry, for instance.

There are no taskbars in twm, nor control panel settings. Just a .twmrc configuration file that is pretty simple to figure out how to use. What I really found very helpful was running a search for .twmrc on the Web and finding quite a few sample configuration files that I could adapt for my own use.

twm is often described as "ugly" and "aesthetically challenged," but this ugly little duckling made a big contribution to the world of X when it was included in many of the first X Window distributions from the X Consortium. At one time, this was the most popular window manager in use.

Like a lot of the early window managers, twm has lot of offspring--other window managers that took the best parts of twm and built upon it. This list includes:

  • ctwm Claude's Window Manager
  • dwim Do What I Mean WM
  • m_swm SIGMA User Interface Tools Window Manager
  • piewm Pie Window Manager
  • tvtwm Tom's Virtual Tab Window Manager
  • vtwm Virtual Tab Window Manager, which added virtual desktops to twm.

With no less than six different progeny, clearly twm has played a significant role in the early development of window managers for X. And while it has fallen out of popular favor amongst competition such as Sawfish and Enlightenment, certainly this is not a window manager that should be forgotten.

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