Window Maker

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Revision as of 06:19, 8 September 2010 by Drcouzelis (talk | contribs) (Styles)
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Window Maker is a window manager (WM) for the X Window System. It is designed to emulate the NeXT user interface as an OpenStep-compatible environment, and is characterized by low memory demands and high flexibility. As one of the lighter WMs, it is well suited for machines with modest performance specifications.


The latest official release can be found in the windowmaker package. Since the official release is quite old, another package with many bug fixes and small updates has been made, called windowmaker-crm-git. [1]

To install Window Maker:

pacman -S windowmaker-crm-git

Once installed create or edit the file Template:Filename as follows:

exec ck-launch-session wmaker

Before starting Window Maker, take some time to setup GNUstep and the default Window Maker settings. Create a directory for your Window Maker settings. Traditionally, it is in Template:Filename.

makedir ~/GNUstep

Set the GNUSTEP_USER_ROOT variable to your GNUstep settings directory. You can set this variable in a file such as Template:Filename.

export GNUSTEP_USER_ROOT="~/GNUstep"

Run the Window Maker settings installation program to setup the default settings.


To start Window Maker:




All of the settings for Window Maker can be found in the GNUSTEP_USER_ROOT directory, under Template:Filename and Template:Filename. They are saved as simple text files. You can use the Preferences Utility (Template:Filename) GUI application to change the settings, or edit them by hand.

  • Template:Filename - The current Window Maker settings.
  • Template:Filename
  • Template:Filename - The desktop main menu. It uses a simple text format that can be edited by hand. For more details, see the menu editing section in the Preferences Utility application.
  • Template:Filename - Used to restore a Window Maker session.
  • Template:Filename - Individual application and window settings, such as application icon settings and title bar settings. You can also edit this by right clicking on any application or window icon and selecting "Attributes".
  • Template:Filename - Settings for the Preferences Utility.
  • Template:Filename
  • Template:Filename - One of the default locations Window Maker looks for application icons. You can personally save your favorite icons here and use them by changing application or window attributes.
  • Template:Filename - Add applications that you want to automatically start when Window Maker starts. Be sure to run them in the background by using "&".
  • Template:Filename - Same as autostart, but used when exiting.
  • Template:Filename - One of the default locations where Window Maker looks for desktop wallpapers.
  • Template:Filename - One of the default locations where Window Maker looks for styles.


Styles are simple text files that change the appearance of Window Maker. They are very similar in appearance to the Template:Filename file. Whatever settings are in the style file will be applied to the Template:Filename file. Here is an example style that gives Window Maker a yellow and gray Haiku like look:


  FTitleColor = "#000000";
  MenuDisabledColor = "#636363";
  IconTitleBack = white;
  FTitleBack = (vgradient, "#fce99c", "#f9d22a");
  ClipTitleFont = "Arial:slant=0:weight=200:width=100:pixelsize=10";
  IconTitleFont = "Arial:slant=0:weight=80:width=100:pixelsize=9";
  MenuTextBack = (vgradient, "#e8e8e8", "#dadada");
  LargeDisplayFont = "Arial:slant=0:weight=80:width=100:pixelsize=24";
  IconTitleColor = "#000000";
  MenuTextColor = "#000000";
  IconBack = (vgradient, "#e8e8e8", "#dadada");
  MenuTitleColor = "#000000";
  MenuTitleFont = "Arial:slant=0:weight=200:width=100:pixelsize=12";
  MenuTextFont = "Arial:slant=0:weight=80:width=100:pixelsize=12";
  WorkspaceBack = (solid, "#243e6c");
  HighlightTextColor = "#000000";
  MenuTitleBack = (dgradient, "#fce99c", "#f9d22a");
  HighlightColor = "#a0a0a0";
  WindowTitleFont = "Arial:slant=0:weight=200:width=100:pixelsize=12";
  ClipTitleColor = gray30;
  MenuStyle = flat;
  ResizebarBack = (vgradient, "#d9d9d9", "#d9d9d9");
  PTitleBack = (solid, "#ededed");
  UTitleColor = "#636363";
  UTitleBack = (solid, "#ededed");
  PTitleColor = "#636363";

Styles can also be edited by using the Preferences Utility application.


The user interface of Mac OS X evolved from the style of user interface that Window Maker uses. There is a "dock" that contains applications icons that are "pinned" to the dock by the user. Also, the dock can hold special small applications called "dockapps", which run only inside the dock. By default, all applications run in Window Maker will have an application icon, which you can use to run a new instance of the application, hide and unhide all windows of the application, or kill the application. The application icon does not represent a window. Instead, if you minimize a window, a small icon representing the window will appear on the desktop.

After starting any application, (for example, from the command line) the application icon will appear on the desktop. You can pin it to the dock by clicking and dragging the icon into the dock area. To remove the application icon from the dock, click and drag the icon away from the dock area. You change settings, such as making an application automatically start when Window Maker starts, by right clicking on the application icon in the dock.

The default action to activate application icons and window icons is to double click them. In windowmake-crm-git, you can change a setting to allow you to activate them with a single click.


The "clip" is a button that has the image of a paperclip on it. You can change the name of the current workspace by right clicking on the clip. You can change workspaces by clicking the arrows that are on the clip.

The clip also has similar functionality to the dock. Application icons that are added to the dock are visible on all workspaces, while application icons that are attached to the clip are only seen on the workspace where they are attached. This allows you to conveniently associate specific application icons with specific workspaces.

Double click the clip to hide and unhide the application icons that are attached to it.


Dockapps are small applications that run in the dock. They can be usefull for showing system information. Some useful dockapps that are in the AUR include:

  • wmclockmon - Show time and date.
  • wmcpuload - Show CPU status and usage.
  • wmnetload - Show network status. Usage: wmnetload -i eth0
  • wmdiskmon - Show disk usage. Usage: wmdiskmon -p /dev/sda1 -p /dev/sda2


Applications don't always start

Sometimes an application, such as Firefox or Thunderbird, will start, and other times it will fail and no window will appear. If you are using the regular windowmaker, try using the windowmaker-crm-git package instead.

Can't disable smooth fonts

Delete (but keep a backup) the Template:Filename directory and Template:Filename file, then restart Window Maker.

Additional resources