written by: M D Albertson Jr•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 9/24/2011
Linux is known for its customizability, and nothing displays that more than the variety of window managers. Here is a gallery of screenshots from some of the more configurable environments.
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Awesome Window Manager
Awesome is a tiling window manager that allows users to customize themes and keyboard shortcuts through the Lua scripting language. In the example above the user has altered the color scheme to match his wallpaper and set the background of his terminals to be completely transparent.
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Awesome Window Manager Themes
Themes can be changed to compliment the wall paper, and opacity of windows makes it so that the image is present but not interfering with the contents of the windows.
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A Transparent Window with an Opaque Window in Awesome
The contents of the transparent terminal window allows the content of the terminal's output to blend with the background creating an interesting image. Whereas the web browser stays completely opaque to maintain the readability of websites.
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Configuring Awesome with Lua
Awesome can be reconfigured using the Lua scripting language. This allows the end-user to change colors as seen on the left as well as change key bindings as seen on the right.
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Managing Space in Awesome
Awesome is a tiling window manager, which allows its users to arrange the layout of windows on their screen via keyboard shortcuts.
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Fluxbox is a stacking window manager that focuses on being lightweight and customizable. Its users can share customized themes like Fluxbox Black featured above.
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Moving Away from Typical Desktops with Fluxbox
This Fluxbox user opted to get rid of the typical desktop taskbar. Also this shot shows the variety of applications and options that can be accessed via Fluxbox's standard pop-up menu.
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Custom Made and Minimalist Fluxbox Theme
A customized theme and taskbar along with transparent menus and windows make the wallpaper seem like it is part of the interface.
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System Statistics Blended into the Interface in Fluxbox
System information blended into the interface so that the user can keep an eye on system resources while working on their projects.
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Fluxbox with a Minimal Taskbar
A small and informative taskbar combined with a xclock demonstrates that Fluxbox can do more with less.
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Gentoo + OpenBox
Openbox, like Fluxbox, is a stacking window manager that focuses on being light on system resources and very configurable. In the screenshot features OpenBox on a system running the Gentoo distribution of Linux with semi-transparent terminal windows, 3D icons, a system resource tracker and a minimalist taskbar.
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Openbox Without a Taskbar
This screenshot features a slightly modified Dyne theme without a taskbar as well as Openbox's pop-up menus and popular Linux applications like Pidgin.
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Incorporating Ideas from other Operating Systems in Openbox
This shot features an interface that uses Simdock to emulate the dock from Mac OS X along with a small system tracker and music player in the top left corner.
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An Artistic OpenBox
Through the Airborne theme and the selected wallpaper this Openbox desktop seems as if it is illustrated instead of rendered.
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Openbox's Elementry Desktop
Openbox can also be configured to look like and function like other environments. For example the shot above features a desktop made to look similar to KDE.
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XMonad is a tiling window manager written and configured entirely in the Haskell programming language. This allows it to be ported to other systems that can support an X windowing system like BSD or OS X.
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XMonad at Work
XMonad tiling windows on three monitors in order to manage all the information this user needs at his or her job. Also a book on programming in Haskell and a plush Tux doll.
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XMonad's Amazing Transparency
This screenshot illustrates something the compositing of many window managers cannot handle, completely opaque and semi-transparent windows are drawn behind transparent windows.
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Floating Windows in XMonad
Tiling window managers arrange windows as if they were tiles. Xmonad allows for certain windows to be set as floating, so that the user can drag them where ever he or she may want.
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More XMonad Transparency
Another example of transparency in XMonad this time with a taskbar and more cowsay (the program that drew the ascii cow in the terminal on the bottom right).
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XFCE Desktop Environment
XFCE, unlike other applications featured in this article, is a desktop environment, which means that it contains utility applications like text editors and file browsers. The screenshot also demonstrates that XFWM, XFCE's window manager, is not capable of drawing semi-transparent windows behind other transparent windows.
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Tiling in XFCE
XFWM supports tiling, though after the windows have been tiled they are still floating and can be dragged to another position.
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Media Control in the Taskbar in XFCE
The above screenshot features a taskbar that contains medai controls for the media player in use.
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Opacity and Transparency in XFCE
Mostly opaque windows can be drawn behind semi-transparent windows because of a recent update to the window manager.
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XFCE's Latest Look
XFCE's new theme from its latest version 4.8, which has been in the works for the last two years and includes changes many of the utilities provided by the environment.
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Scrotwm - Window Management "for Hackers by Hackers"
Scrotwm totes itself as being a window manager "built by hackers for hackers", which has led to its developement as en extremely fast, light weight, and customizable window manager.
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Floating and Tiling in Scrotwm
The top half of the image features floating windows in Scrotwm and the lower half of the image depicts five terminals arranged via tiling.
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Transparency and Statusbar in Scrotwm
A Scrotwm example featuring a transparent terminal and a statusbar.