Am I weird for liking to look at everything maximized?
January 5, 2006 11:01 PM   Subscribe

UNIXFilter: Windowmanagers that handle maximized windows nicely.

I have this problem when it comes to how I work on the computer: 90% of what I do, I do maximized (in Windows), and it feels very awkward for me to work with little screens all over the place in most unix wms (OS-X, too, seems to have a habit of wanting specifically-dimensioned windows for things). Ion claims to handle this exact problem nicely (and is sort of what I want), but unfortunately is a bit too rigid, and also uses sloppy focus exclusively (there's not even code for click-to-focus).

Neither Gnome or KDE did this well last time I used them (3.x for KDE, 2.x for gnome). Windowmaker just sucked at this. IceWM has other usability problems.

Other requirements include some intelligent way of switching windows (I use alt-tab very, very often in Explorer), and virtual desktops are always good (but most WMs support this anyway..)

Any ideas for a WM that won't frustrate me to death?
posted by devilsbrigade to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
fwiw, you're not crazy to want everything maximized. I find it less distracting, esp. when I'm writing. OSX drives me crazy on this score, and the people at the Apple Store didn't seem to even understand the question when I asked them how to maximize Word.
posted by words1 at 11:17 PM on January 5, 2006

ratpoison? :)

cwm may be of interest as well, inspired by evilwm.
posted by kcm at 11:31 PM on January 5, 2006

I'm an all-maximized nearly all the time kinda guy, too (used RatPoison for a while), and I've been satisfied with Gnome 2.12 (in Ubuntu 5.10.) It supports alt-tab and virtual desktops. (Windows maximize to fill all the area except the Gnome panels, which I consider a feature. If you want it to cover the panels, I think you can do that, but I'm not sure.)

XWinMan is a pretty comprehensive site on all the choices.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:38 PM on January 5, 2006

In Gnome, try pressing F11 for full-screen mode rather than maximizing.
posted by grouse at 5:23 AM on January 6, 2006

Sawfish is really great. I've been using it for years and can't imagine giving it up.
posted by duckstab at 5:48 AM on January 6, 2006

I don't get why KDE won't work for you. All my KDE applications default to opening the same way they were last closed, so maximize them once and they'll stay that way forever. Gnucash, which is Gnome 1, is the only app that won't stay maximized. Probably if I fiddled with Gnome settings I could make it stay maximized, but I'm too lazy.

Should that not be enough, you can right-click at the top of any KDE window, choose Configure Window Behavior, and do things like set every window to automatically and permanently open maximized, as well as set window focus options and so on.

It may be that you have one app which tends to open small windows. This is an application problem, not a window manager problem. But as above, I believe you can set KDE to open them all maximized anyway.

Alt-tab switches windows in KDE. Ctrl-tab switches desktops.
posted by jellicle at 6:12 AM on January 6, 2006

I've been using FVWM for years as well. Alt-F12 toggles window maximization. Ctrl->arrow key switches virtual desktops in the appropriate direction. I'd be glad to share my config file with you.
posted by roue at 6:36 AM on January 6, 2006

i use blackbox. no icons on the desktop = no distraction. you can maximize windows, but it doesn't fill the entire screen as it might in windows. to avoid the distraction of other windows, i often use shading (double-click the titlebar of the window and the contents disappear, rolling up into the titlebar as you might open a windowshade). os9 used to have this feature, but i've sadly been unable to replicate its functionality in osx.

honestly, i've embraced the darkside of nothing maximized, and find i'm much more productive. the potential distraction of them, when you aren't using more than one window, is really mitigated by the shading technique (for me).

good luck.
posted by moz at 6:54 AM on January 6, 2006

You might look into Blackbox or its spin-offs Openbox and Fluxbox. I'm using Fluxbox now, and I too maximize most things (Firefox is hard to manage otherwise).

KDE seems to use too damn much RAM for my usual style: Firefox on one desktop (with five or six tabs going), Opera on another (also with several tabs), konsole on a third (with three or four tabs, often with one of them compiling something big), and say a jpeg viewer and xmms on desktop 4. Shouldn't 512 megs of RAM enough for that?

I click on the task bar to switch between desktops myself; Blackbox and Fluxbox use a separate prgram called bbkeys (included with the WM) to handle keyboard stuff: to quote the bbkeys man page,

"On startup, bbkeys reads $HOME/.bbkeysrc, which you can edit by hand or through bbconf or bbkeysconf. This is now configurable through a command-line switch as show in OPTIONS."

Openbox switched to something called 'epistrophy' for keyboard handling, but on the pointed-to page is a link to a script to convert the bindings 'on the fly'; note that that link documenting 'epist' goes to a page for Openbox 2, but Openbox 3 -- still using epist, apparently -- has been out for a while.

That by the way points to my biggest problem with the *box WMs, having to edit the menus by hand to add in everything I use often in an easy-to-get-to format. There was an app somewhere that converted KDE menus to Blackbox format but that only worked for KDE 1.
posted by davy at 7:01 AM on January 6, 2006

This won't be helpful...
Your question confuses me. If your windows are maximized, why on earth do you want click-to-focus instead of focus-follows-mouse?

I loathe click-to-focus -- why should I have to move to a safe spot on the window where clicking won't do something else?
posted by Aknaton at 7:11 AM on January 6, 2006

IceWM has a very windows-ish feel to it. Native alt-tab, windows-like maximization.

Seems like just what you want.
posted by unixrat at 7:20 AM on January 6, 2006

Ion is great, but it really all about the keyboard. When using standard (WIonWS) workspaces I rarely use the mouse except when surfing, so mouse focus doesn't come into it.
Give Ion another look, it takes some getting used to, but it's a awesome wm for getting things done.
posted by mister e at 7:32 AM on January 6, 2006

aside to moz: os9 used to have this feature, but i've sadly been unable to replicate its functionality in osx.

posted by Popular Ethics at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2006

If you are going to run everyhing maximized, there isn't really a difference between sloppy-focus and click-to-focus, is there?

I love Ion and haven't used anything else since the day I installed it, but if you really want to run everything maximized you'd probably be better off with ratpoison.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:01 AM on January 6, 2006

Response by poster: I run most things maximized, but not everything.

I'll give Ion a shot, I might be able to get used to sloppy focus.
I also might try an older version of KDE. I really don't want or need 90% of the desktop, but I remember 2.x versions being relatively non-invasive.

I've tried FVWM in the past, and it seemed really fragile. Might give it another shot and see what config files can fix.

Thanks for the suggestions, they at least motivated me to (re)try some things!
posted by devilsbrigade at 3:58 PM on January 6, 2006

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