Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Windowmaker versus Gnome

I am presently moderately tempted to switch window managers, for the first time in at least .. hmm.. 6 years? I've been using Windowmaker all that time, because I like the NeXTStep-style interface, and because it's very fast, simple, and I know how it works. It's very easy to configure to do everything I want it to do, and it strikes a good balance between flash and simplicity. I am, however, lightly being seduced by Fedora5's default GNOME desktop interface (some odd mix of metacity/nautilus/gnome-panel/etc). It's also not excessively flashy, but more importantly it has nice tools for switching languages, monitors my battery, and otherwise is a very smooth, desktoppy feel. Its problems are that it's not quite as configurable as Windowmaker, I don't know how its configfiles work (presumably some horrid mess of XML going through gconf, another complex piece of software I don't understand), nor do I really understand how the whole thing is put together. This is kind of like the dilemma between the old VW Bug where I understand everything under the hood, it's not particularly flashy, but I've tweaked it a lot and am comfortable with it, versus a new sleek hovercar that can go over water, has an ultra-modern stereo system, and can fly for short periods at a time, but has far fewer options and the insides are a black box. There are also the issues that

  • Windowmaker has not seen updates for a fairly long while now
  • Last time I checked their website, it was offline (and still is)
It's painful to switch these kinds of things, just like every time I have switched between Vi(m) and (x)Emacs, it has taken me a long time to get comfortable again. Is it time to ditch Windowmaker?

Update: I have checked all the systems I put Fedora5 on at work, and none of them show any of the oddities (misbehaving applications) that my laptop has. Windowmaker works fine, X Resources are happy, Perl-Tk goes great, etc. Similarly, all this has nothing to do with my user environment, because running under a guest account, it all still fails horribly. *Much* to my surprise, the Perl-Tk issues are apparently tied to my X being hosed, because when I ssh to my other workstations, Perl-Tk fails the same way, whereas when I vnc to then, it works fine. I would not be surprised if WindowMaker is not actually broken either. The server or the resources subsystem are definitely messed up though. I can, amusingly, vnc elsewhere and then ssh back into my box, and things work fine. That's pretty messed up.

Possible causes of problems:

  1. Failed install of ATI drivers + Stupid removal attempts
  2. The deep voodoo xorg.conf I used to get video kinda working
  3. Additional packages I installed
  4. One of the many additional tweaks I did to the system after install
I am thinking now that I will likely do another backup/install onto my laptop, this time playing very close attention to when/if any of these things break. On the upside, I've done some cleaning of my home directory during all this moving around.

CORRECTION: I found the problem. It was user error, in particular a bad RgbPath specifier in my xorg.conf (that was valid in FC4). I'm surprised that X even loaded and as much worked as it did. So, I will not reinstall Fedora, and to my surprise, for the first time the gnome components interact nicely with Windowmaker as my desktop, and I get pretty much all the good desktop stuff I wanted on toolbars that otherwise slide out of the way. Cool! I just need to take the time to install the hacked graphics driver that some other fedoran folks have cooked up, and all will hopefully be good.

Tags: tech
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