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17.5. A Quick Tour of the fvwm Environment

In any desktop environment with multiple virtual screens/pages, you can work on only a single screenful at a time. But fvwm2 makes it easy to switch the view between pages, run applications on different pages, and move applications between them. If you refer to a particular window all the time, you can even arrange for it to appear on every page of every desktop. (We'll come back to this concept of "sticky" windows.) And you're not limited to viewing a page proper or keeping a window entirely on a single page.

Notice the long horizontal box in the bottom right corner of our sample environment (Figure 17-1). This box is the FvwmButtons module (also called the button bar). FvwmButtons is generally used to house a number of tools and applications to which the user needs frequent access. Often these are other fvwm modules.

Figure 17-1

Figure 17-1. A typical fvwm2 environment

In our sample configuration, FvwmButtons contains two other modules: the Icon Manager (FvwmIconMan) on the left side of the box and to its right, the Pager (FvwmPager). At the far right of FvwmButtons you'll also see three small application windows: xbiff (a mailbox that indicates when you have new messages), xclock, and xload (a graphic representation of your system's workload).

The Icon Manager and the Pager are tools that let you both monitor what's happening in your environment and manipulate the windows running there. The Icon Manager shows an entry for every conventional window currently on your display. If that window is iconified, the Icon Manager entry is preceded by a square that has a three-dimensional appearance. You can iconify and deiconify any window on the current page by clicking the first pointer button on the corresponding entry in the Icon Manager. (The Icon Manager always shows the windows on the current page; for a similar tool that reflects what's running on every page on every desktop, check out the FvwmWinList, described later in this chapter.)

Think of the Pager as a tiny mirror of your entire desktop(s). In a typical default environment of a single desktop composed of two-by-two screen pages, the Pager shows a small grid of four partitions separated by dotted lines. These partitions correspond to the desktop's four virtual screen pages. (If you configure for multiple desktops, a solid line is used to show the border between desktops. The section "Having Multiple Desktops," later in this chapter, tells you how to set this up.)

Each application you run appears in miniature in the Pager window. Applications with small windows are fairly hard to spot in miniature, but a blip representing them is there if you look closely. The miniature version of a larger client, like xterm, should have a readable label.

Whatever operations you perform on windows on the desktop -- e.g., move, iconify, resize, and so on -- are mirrored in the Pager. But the Pager is more than a monitor of activity; it's also a tool. Thus, you can move the miniature versions, and the actual windows will be moved. The Pager can also help you move windows between pages and desktops and select the area to be displayed on your monitor (which does not have to correspond to a page proper).

In addition to the desktop tools, fvwm2 is commonly configured to provide a slew of cascading menus beginning with the Root menu. Clicking the first pointer button on the root window should reveal this menu. The Root menu is usually a good way to start a new terminal emulator window. If you start with the default environment for your system, the Root menu is likely to have submenus like Fvwm Modules, Fvwm Window Ops (which offers items like moving, resizing, and closing windows), Fvwm Simple Config Ops (for changing focus policies, how paging works, etc.), and Exit Fvwm (for restarting or exiting the window manager, starting another one, etc.).

This chapter assumes you know how to perform basic window manager operations. We're not going to teach you how to use the Pager or all the menu items. But we will show you how to change the number of desktops the Pager shows, add menu items, configure keyboard shortcuts, and make useful customizations.

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