February 17, 2019

Window Maker Desktop: Lightweight Linux Minimalism - page 2

First Impressions

  • March 10, 2010
  • By Juliet Kemp

The WPrefs application enables you to set various preferences and configuration options. Unfortunately, the window doesn't seem to be resizable, which meant that on my screen, some labels were partly cut off, as in the bottom right in the picture below.


The Applications tab enables you to create your own applications menu (accessed by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop), by dragging items from the list in WPrefs onto the Applications menu outside that window on the desktop. Window Maker is heavily drag-and-drop based, and it took me a few minutes to get used to that. If in doubt, try dragging something around the desktop a bit! (Although unfortunately the Debian package doesn't have all the drag-and-drop features compiled in.)

The custom Run dialog available when configuring the Applications menu enables you to easily create a menu entry to run any program you like (I set one up to run Firefox). It's all incredibly straightforward, and once I got used to the style, I was definitely impressed.

You can also add icons to the Dock. Start up an application via an xterm or the desktop menu, then when its icon appears next to the Clip, drag it over to the Dock. Icons on the Clip are by default per-workspace, while Dock icons are constant across all workspaces. However, you may need to change the icon later – you can do this by right-clicking and choosing 'Settings', but you can only look for icons in the directories set in the Icon Search Path in WPrefs. (Another minor nuisance.)

A slight niggle for me is the lack of a native pager, but as the FAQ explains, you can use the KDE or Gnome pagers. The Gnome pager, though, seems to require the use of the full Gnome panel – which works fine (try it out with gnome-panel &, but which I found a quite unpleasant shock to the eye after the panel-free simplicity of WindowMaker without it! The BlackBox pager should also work, but didn't for me. There are, however, other ways of moving between workspaces, so this isn't a dealbreaker.


Window Maker is pleasingly fast, and I grew to like the minimalism, but I found it slightly more aggravating to use in a couple of ways than Xfce. There are slight usability irritations, such as the inability to relaunch an existing application via its Dock icon, and the fact that you can't set icon search paths from the settings panel for a particular icon. It is very configurable, if you want to put the time into it, as can be seen on their website, so it may be worth it if you enjoying fiddling around. Unfortunately, I'm lazier than that, so it didn't quite cut it for me! I will however be bearing it in mind in future as a very fast and lightweight option if working with older or slower machines, especially as it doesn't require any of the KDE/Gnome packages.

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