Thursday, December 15, 2005

Making FVWM an Option

A correspondent (we now have correspondents, aka people who write us) sent us a link to FVWM Crystal, a set of tweaks and addons to enhance the FVWM Window Manager.

I'm not going to be using it soon, it looks rather bulky, and one of the reasons for using FVWM was the fact that it is relatively lightweight when compared to Gnome and KDE. (The other reason was the large virtual desktop, mine is 9 times larger than the screen, and I can pan anywhere on it with the mouse.) However, Correspondent also mentioned that FVWM-Crystal contained a file which made FVWM show up on the GDM (and KDM, presumably) window manager login screen.

This has been an irritant. In a default Fedora Core 4 setup, when you turn on the computer there's a splash screen which has a box for your username and password. Down at the lower left there's an entry called, I think Session. The options inside Session are, by default, Gnome, KDE, Last Session, and Default.

If you install FVWM from source, as I've done (or use a home-rolled RPM file) it doesn't show up on the login screen. To get FVWM to launch when you log in you need to create a .xsession file in your home directory which contains the line


if that's the location of your FVWM executable. This is the "default" option on the Session menu.

That's not too hard for me to figure out, but suppose I want some other user of this machine to have a chance to learn the glories of FVWM? The easiest way to do that is to give them the ability to launch FVWM from the Session menu. That's where the hint from FVWM-Crystal comes in.

The Gnome (GDM) and KDE (KDM) window managers look in the directory /usr/share/xsessions to see what window managers are available. I found the files gnome.desktop and kde.desktop there. Obviously I need to install a fvwm.desktop file. But what goes in it?

FVWM-Crystal comes with a fvwm.desktop file. It's not totally appropriate for my setup, but it provided enough hints to let me construct a version for myself. Mine looks like this:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=F(eeble) Virtual Window Manager:  Lightweight, Fast

[Window Manager]

I'm not sure if all of that is necessary or not.

Save this file as /usr/share/xsessions/fvwm.desktop, make it executable ($ chmod 755 /usr/share/xsessions/fvwm.desktop), log out of your Xsession, and look at the Session option on the login screen. FVWM should be available as an option.


Penguin Pete said...

I've had to go through similar degrees of Hades using Window Maker on Mandriva 10.1. And don't get me started on the distros that corner you into KDE, period, like it or not. I just did a window manager review today @ , if you're curious.