Selecting and Using Window Managers

A window manager is usually launched immediately after the X server starts. The window manager looks after the general look and feel of the interface, as well as the actual drawing of scrollbars, buttons, and so on. A window manager is essential to interact with the X server; without one, X client windows would not be able to be moved around or resized. Linux allows for a wide variety of window managers, and each window manager caters for specific requirements. This variety is one of the features that makes Linux and X itself more popular.

A window manager provides the user with a graphical interface to X, as well as a customized desktop which includes the look and feel of the window manager. Things such as icons, panels, windows, grab handles, and scroll bars are defined by the window manager's general settings and are usually unique to that window manager.

A window manger might also provide menuing on the root desktop or after a button is clicked in a client's window title bar. Some window managers support the use of special keyboard keys to move the pointer and emulate mouse button clicks. Another feature is the capability to provide multiple workspaces, or a virtual desktop, which is not the same as the virtual screen; whereas a virtual screen is a desktop that is larger than the display, a virtual desktop offers two, four, or eight additional complete workspaces.

Switching between these window managers is fairly simple. Before you login, click the Options button on the login screen and choose Select Session. You will then be given a list of the installed window managers that are ready for use. You can choose to change your default session to another window manager, or just use it for one session only. Do not worry about losing your favorite window manager to another one. Just change it back again when you next return to the login screen.


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