Chapter 8. Session Managers,Desktop Environments, and Window Managers

X and Desktop Environments

When the X Window System was first released, no desktop environment was available. Even when Motif was released in 1989, it did not include a desktop environment; although a few proprietary desktops were available, none of them gained widespread acceptance.

If you look back at X screen dumps taken in the late 1980s or early 1990s, you will find that in most cases there were no panel bars, application launching menus, or window lists. Instead, applications were launched from file-management windows containing icons or from root menus invoked by clicking on the root (background) window, and icons representing minimized programs sat directly on the root window or in icon boxes. This was possible because most of the window managers evolved (out of necessity) basic root-menu and icon-box capabilities.

By the mid-1990s, system vendors recognized the need for a desktop manager, and in 1995, the Open Software Foundation (OSF) introduced the Motif-based Common Desktop Environment (), CDE based upon HP’s Vue environment.

Today the dominant desktop environments are GNOME and KDE. CDE continues to be the default desktop on AIX and HP/UX systems, though IBM offers both GNOME and KDE for AIX. Sun Solaris 10 includes both CDE and GNOME.

As an alternative to GNOME or KDE, Xfce provides a GTK+-based desktop environment that uses only about one-third the memory of GNOME. Xfce’s window manager, xfwm, was ...

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