Thursday, December 25, 2003


FVWM ("FVWM" Virtual Window Manager) is rather old, but quite useful. It's a lot lighter weight than GNOME (actually sawtooth) or KDE. It is realtively easy to setup and manage by editing the ~/.fvwm/.fvwm2rc file.

You can set up a virtual desktop. I use one that's 3x3, meaning that the desktop is 9 times the size of my screen. I can move open applications between the screens by dragging them with a mouse.

There is a fully configurable button bar. Mine includes a load meter, a map of the virtual desktop, a clock, and quick launch buttons for the fortune program, an xterm, MozillaFirebird, and a kill button.

There is also a configurable Win95-like TaskBar, which shows all open windows and allows quick navigation between them. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get it working here, though it works out of the box in older RedHat versions and in SUSE Linux.

Unfortunately, fvwm is not included in the Fedora distribution. To get it, you must:

  1. Download the program from the Offiicial FVWM Home Page or from another source. The official FVWM page includes RPMs, Deb packages and tarballs. You can also download various themes and icons.
  2. Install in the usual way
  3. Create a file ~/.xsession in your home directory. In it put the full path to your copy of fvwm. If you install from an RPM, it's in /usr/bin/fvwm2.
  4. Run this command from a terminal window: $ chmod 555 ~/.xsession This makes ~/.xsession executable, and insures that it won't be overwritten. (See man chmod for more details.)
  5. Log out of whatever WindowManager you are using.
  6. Before logging in again, click on the Session button on the login screen and set it to default.
  7. Log in. You should be running FVWM. There is a default menu, which will have an option which saves the configuration information into the file ~.fvwm/.fvwm2rc. You can edit this to get the behavior you want. When I get my file satisfactorily adjusted I'll post a link to it.

That should be all you need to use FVWM. Look at the FVWM pages and man fvwm for more details.