<CT> Re: Microsoft discontinuing support for Linux

  • From: "Brian L. Johnson" <blj8@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <calmira_tips@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 09:40:28 -0600 (MDT)

On May 18, Erwin Dokter directed electrons to calmira_tips@xxxxxxxxxxxxx:

>So, if I get this right, the Window Manager is actually the equivalent
>of the Windows GDI subsystem, which manages windows drawing and provides
>an API giving access the screen... while components like Gnome / KDE are
>equivalent of the Windows "shell", providing a basic user interface
>allowing users to manage tasks and files.

Well, yes and no...
Tasks such as drawing the windows themselves, and their widget
components (scrollbars, sliders, buttons, boxes etc) are the
responsibility of the apps themselves. Tho in Linux, there are many
multiple such widget libraries available.

What Gnome is, is a framework, and a few components that draw on that
framework. To be more precise, Gnome is based on libraries called GTK,
which provide widgets, graphic manipulation libraries and APIs. Gnome
uses that to build a desktop environment, and other apps can draw on
these same libraries. So if you write an app with GTK, it will share
appearance with other GTK apps, and if you change GTK themes, that app
will change along with.

KDE is a similar idea, but based on libraries named QT

So a window manager's role is:
*) Manage size and placement of windows
*) Manage iconification (minimizing in Unixspeak)
*) Manage layering (which window is on top)
*) Manage focus (which window gets keyboard input)
*) Manage virtual desktops - Many wm's have more than one single
      desktop) Note this is optional, some wm's have one desktop
*) Draw window decorations, such as titlebars, borders, etc
*) Draw and respond to window controls (buttons on the titlebar)

And unlike other environments, many wm's allow you to *not* have a
window managed. I do this with some of the windows on my desktop. For
example, I am writing this message in Pine, a text-based mail program
running in a terminal window (roughly equivalent to a DOS window). The
terminal window is set to be completely transparent, and I tell my wm to
not draw anything at all around the term window. The end effect of all
this is that the text of my email appears to float in space over the

If you're curious what this looks like, see
http://www.blj8.com/floatingpine.jpg (1600x1200, 371k, image quality
lowered to save space)

A particularly interesting and useful page is
http://www.plig.org/~xwinman/intro.html. After that, feel free to browse
the rest of that site, as it shows and tells about many window managers.
It manages to get just about all of the signifigant wm's in.


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