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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. And for those who wonder, FVWM means Feeble Virtual Window Manager.

Installing FVWM

Install FVWM so

pacman -S fvwm

You can also install the patched version (presently out of date) from the AUR, or if you have archlinuxfr (see Unofficial user repositories) added to your pacman.conf it can be installed so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

FVWM-Crystal, which is also in the Arch repositories, is an add-on that makes FVWM much easier to configure, although the easier configuration allows much less flexibility than direct editing of configuration files.

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 good login manager with few dependencies that acts well with FVWM. SLiM can also be used with multiple environments so it is helpful if one wants several environments and real control of the process.

Bringing Out its Power

When you start FVWM for the first time, you will get something that looks very blank. When you left-click on the desktop, you will be able to select a very basic configuration for FVWM. Chose the modules you want and you are ready to get started. You will undoubtedly want to do more to create your desktop, 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  • Although it is outdated, the FVWM beginners guide helps to understand how FVWM functions and how to build your basic setup.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 work with what other people have done, you may find it helpful to look at these tips on configuration files by Thomas Adam, the most active FVWM developer.
  • Fvwm plays well with xcompmgr for simple compositing effects.
  • Useful applications are similar to those suggested for Openbox or Fluxbox.

External Links

Links used in this tutorial: