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From the Desktop: E Stands for EPIwm and Epidemic - page 3

Out of Order

  • November 28, 2000
  • By Brian Proffitt

A few weeks ago, I looked at FVWM95, the apparent clone of FVWM, and did not form any powerful conclusions. This was glaringly apparent by the incomplete nature of the article I posted. One talkback on Linux Today caught the lack of meat to the story (I feel your pain, Todd W!) and another editor from Linux Magazine praised me on the quality of the BS I produced.

One does what one can.

As I mentioned earlier, I was sick, and babbling something about evil twins. It made sense at the time, but what the article really needed was an in-depth interview with the creator of FVWM95, Hector Peraza.

Step into the Wayback Machine, kids, for here's the rest of the story...

FVWM95, on the surface, really does look and feel a lot like FVWM2, but the goal of the development team is far different. Peraza initially began developing FVWM95 because of a rare liking of Windows 95.

"It started as some kind of experiment, since the fvwm code was available," Peraza explained, "I wanted to modify it to see how my Linux desktop would look like with the Windows look."

Peraza stayed with the programming, working in many Windows features he found useful.

"I tried to replicate the look as exactly as possible: 3D-borders, buttons, title bar, mini-icons, taskbar... I liked the results and decided to stay with it," he said.

The coding was not without its share of humor either.

"I used FVWM95 as a joke too," Peraza related. "Once I compiled it on a DEC station of a friend of mine and told him I had erased UNIX and installed WindowsTM...you should have seen his face!"

Despite the antipathy many Linux users feel towards the Spawn of Microsoft, Peraza was pleased with how well his window manager was accepted. Though, initially, he had not planned to release it at all.

"I didn't really plan to make FVWM95 publicly available until I saw somewhere on Internet the screen shots of somebody trying to achieve the same results by changing FVWM's configuration file," Peraza said, "I realized then that other people could also benefit from my work and that day I made all the files available at my machine's ftp directory and posted a note to FVWM's discussion list.

"Many people were immediately scared with the idea--they didn't want to associate in any way UNIX with Windows. But on the other hand, I started having several hundreds of downloads per day, and receiving a lots of e-mails (my record was about 1400 e-mails in a month)."

Pleased with the strong response for his new window manager, Peraza did not rest on his laurels, and is striving to perfect his creation even today. Among his target goals are a general code cleanup, a redesign of the module interface, better colormap handling, and improved interaction between FVWM95 and applications.

A lot of these changes will come about when the window manager is reused with the xclass library Peraza is creating in the fOX Project.

"The xclass library is a C set of classes intended to be used when developing applications with win95 look and feel," he explained. "It implements a basic set of widgets like menus, buttons, list boxes, icons, etc. as well as some commonly used dialog boxes like the file open menu, message boxes, etc. It is just a sort of toolkit similar to qt or Gtk. We used it to develop the explorer and some other applications."

Once the xclass rewrite of FVWM95 is complete, there are still going to be more improvements added to the window manager. Citing the fact that non-experienced users have trouble installing FVWM95, Peraza hopes to be able to come up with a better way.

"We would like to have some kind of distribution package comprising not only the window manager, but also all the necessary modules together with the explorer, desktop manager and a suitable configuration utility," Peraza said.

The differences between FVWM95 and EPIwm are nothing short of dizzying, from their initial design to their final appearance and workflow. When looking at them together, it should make X users appreciate the incredible diversity available for their choice of GUI.

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