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FVWM is a stable, powerful, efficient, and ICCCM-compliant multiple virtual desktop window manager for the X Window system. It requires some effort to learn to use it well, since it is almost entirely configured by editing configuration files with a text editor, but those who persist end up with a desktop environment that works exactly the way they want it to work. Development is active, and support is excellent.

One should not confuse the FVWM window manager with the project FVWM-Crystal, which can be also found in the Arch repositories and is basically an add-on that makes FVWM much easier to configure (although the easier configuration allows much less flexibility than direct editing of configuration files). And for those who wonder, FVWM means Feeble Virtual Window Manager.

This wiki is by no means complete, but with user participation it can help show the potential of FVWM. The discussion in Arch Forums is here.

Installing FVWM

Install FVWM with the following command: # pacman -S fvwm. You can also install the patched version FVWM-patched (presently out of date) from the AUR, or if you have archlinuxfr (see Unofficial user repositories) added to your pacman.conf it can be installed so: # pacman -S fvwm-patched

Starting FVWM

FVWM will automatically be listed in kdm/gdm in the sessions menu. Otherwise, add

exec fvwm2 


exec fvwm

to your user's .xinitrc.

A sample .xinitrc might be as follows:


case $1 in
        exec ck-launch-session fvwm
        exec ck-launch-session awesome
        exec ck-launch-session $DEFAULT_SESSION

SLiM is very good login manager, that does not have many dependencies and acts well with FVWM. SLiM can also be used with multiple environments as well so it makes it very appealing if one need several environments, but want to have a real control of the process.

When you start FVWM, you will get into the blank configuration. However, when you left-click on the desktop, you will be able to select to configure FVWM. Chose the modules you want and you are ready to get started.

Making FVWM Better

Since FVWM comes pretty blank in the beginning, you need to create your desktop from scratch... or almost. So here are some tips:

  • Although it is outdated, the FVWM beginners guide helps to understand how FVWM functions and how to build your basic setup.
  • As you copy what other people have done, you might look at these tips on configuration files by Thomas Adam, the most active FVWM developer.
  • Useful applications are similar to those suggested for Openbox or Fluxbox.

External Links

Links used in this tutorial: