30 July 2009

Lightweight OS : Awesome Window Manager

Some year ago I used to try all kind of Window Managers on Linux and basically loosed a lot of time for nothing. I never though that I would fall back again, but having just 1Go RAM and running JetBrains MPS forced me to consider lighter alternatives than KDE.

First I tried XFCE, but it wasn't enough: too close to Gnome, too traditional. So I tried Fluxbox, didn't like the menu, RatPoison too simple and finally: Awesome. As usual, I found the Wikipedia list very useful.

And so far it is the best Window Manager I ever used.
- Fast, clean and simple, even their Web site is well designed.
- No more loosing time resizing the windows ! At about 98% I just need to have the applications full screen.
- But still it is easy to resize, typically popup window are often too small.
- No waisted screen space : no desktop.
- an unified way to close applications (no more Ctrl-Q, Ctrl-E, Ctrl-X ... one Mod4-Shift-c for all !)
- easy shortcuts
- search through the menu. It is not as good as Spotlight on a Mac or the KDE4 launcher, but I guess it can be configured.

It may sound enough, but there is more:
- highly and simply configurable with a scripting language: LUA. I already known LUA for being used in SciTE a very good code editor.
- it isn't a general purpose Window Manager, it targets my profile. It suits me: a bit cutting edge but not bleeding.

I always though that the "Desktop" was not a good abstraction, unless you have at least three 22' monitors. It becomes often a trash bin and is almost always covered with the application you are working with anyway. That is why I kind of like the KDE4 approach of a desktop that is more than a folder.
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