Window Managers

X is even layered more than expected this allows to exchange the window manager with something that does fancy stuff. Window managers create a window space where a program can run. As examples for window managers:

Desktop environment

Window Manager


Plasma, Openbox, Kwin






openbox or kwin


Openbox (is considered as standalone manager)


twm (comes with X)

There are also some standalone Window Managers, since they want to be complete more than just the Window manager is coming with those programs:

  1. Compiz to make your desktop fancy

  2. Fluxbox

  3. TWM (is often the default one since it is basic with not much dependent libraries, as a result it is ugly, and often used jut to test X)

  4. Openbox

The Inter-Client Communication Conventions Manual (ICCCM) defines a standard way for Window managers and allows to exchange window managers.

Windows have windows decoration, this is usually the top colored bar showing on the right the window size and close icons and on the left an icon identifying the running program. Alt + Space can open its menu where new commands as move window, move up/down, Un/decorate, ... appear.

Openbox customization

Since openbox is rather basic some customization might be useful

Install fonts as ttf-bitstream-vera and corefonts

The menu is /etc/xdg/openbox or user level ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml There is the program menumaker that can create menus as mmaker -v OpenBox3 that then can be edited and copied to cp .config/openbox/menu.xml /etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml .

There is also an autostart script for system wide /etc/xdg/openbox/ and on user level ~/.config/openbox/


To evolve GUI's to have more alive desktops many projects have been created beryl, compiz and a merge of both compiz-fusion. There is a lot of activities since many people like a fancy desktop. According, everything will be merged again and will be called simply compiz version 8. See also its wiki Currently compiz-fusion seems to be the most stable option.

Installing compiz

Since compiz is just a window manager it needs desktops that are layered. Unfortunately some as gnome don't fit in this category, so compiz can no more work with it. On the other hand X11 become more plug and play capable and works almost without xorg.conf (that has become a directory /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d in the modular X11). So compiz can be used to pimp up simple desktop environment as LXDE.

Set the xcb, svg useflags. Lots of packages have to be unmasked to do the emerge compiz-fusion. After unmasking emerge compiz-fusion.

To start it unmask and emerge fusion-icon. Different options can be selected, as selecting the window manager a is possible.

Working with compiz

Configure compiz via the menu Settings => CompizConfig Setting Manager. See: .

If you see no window title, minimize/maximize/close buttons, verify the CompizConfig Setting Manager has Window Decoration enabled, since those buttons are part of the window decoration. To get a nice windows decorations emerald can be installed.

Ctrl+Alt and click on the mouse lets you turn the cube plug in and then the screen capture program can produce something as below:

Figure 6.2. Compiz cube


And Ctrl+Alt+Down Arrow shows you the following, where you can use left and right key to get the desktop desired:

Figure 6.3. Compiz screens


To get burning windows when close, select in the Settings Manager, Paint fire on the screen plus Animations Add-On. The in Animations go to Close Animation and edit the first entry, change there to Burn effect and leave the other things as window match as they are.

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