Window Maker Live: When less is more, but more is also ... more?

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Back successful August, a caller type of Window Maker arrived. Now there's a corresponding update to Window Maker Live, truthful you tin effort it retired without installing.

Window Maker Live, aliases wmlive for short, is simply a Debian-based distro designed to tally straight from a footwear medium, though it does person an installer, truthful you tin instal it permanently for illustration immoderate different distro if you want. Obviously enough, nan caller type contains Window Maker type 0.96, but location is overmuch other besides.

Window Maker Live has beautifully minimal aesthetics, but its exertion prime is nan nonstop reverse.

Window Maker Live has beautifully minimal aesthetics, but its exertion prime is nan nonstop reverse (click to enlarge)

This type of Window Maker is nan first merchandise since 2020, which suggests its developers are successful nary hurry. Window Maker, which dates backmost to 1997, was primitively named without a space, WindowMaker, but renamed to debar conflict pinch a mini British software house of that name. That was nan aforesaid twelvemonth arsenic nan similarly venerable IceWM emerged, and immoderate years earlier GNOME aliases KDE. It's 1 of nan oldest Linux model managers still successful progressive development.

After type 0.92 successful 2005, location was a seven-year hiatus, but since 2012 location were 9 releases successful nan 0.95 series. This intends 2 things: By modern standards, it's mini and fast, and secondly, it's mature and stable, truthful nan caller features successful caller releases are minor.

The distro shares nan type number of its graphical environment, truthful this type is called wmlive 0.96. It's based connected Debian Bookworm — specifically, connected 12.2. It has kernel 6.4, and comes pinch complete a 100 applications preinstalled – immoderate of them alternatively unconventional choices. The Window Maker dock is arranged vertically connected nan right, and pinned to it are 2 browsers: Both Pale Moon and Surf from nan Suckless project; nan Claws email client; 2 icons for nan MATE terminal, 1 for a modular relationship and 1 pinch guidelines privileges; Telegram Desktop for messaging; and nan Synaptic graphical package manager.

A right-click connected nan desktop gives nan main menu, which besides contains some an Applications paper and nan Xfce Application Finder. The prime is rather bewildering, but there's thing present for almost everyone. This merchandise sees a awesome caller addition: Underneath nan Applications submenu is simply a second, entitled GNUstep Apps. This contains a full assortment of applications built pinch nan GNUstep programming frameworks, including its improvement tools.

The caller Window Maker Live 0.96 now besides offers a suite of applications from GNUstep task arsenic well.

The caller Window Maker Live 0.96 now besides offers a suite of applications from GNUstep task arsenic good (click to enlarge)

You tin tally these straight from nan menu, which gives you a group of mutually accordant apps that fresh successful pinch Window Maker's NeXTstep-like environment. This is simply a bully thing, but nan problem is that they copy a batch of nan functionality of wmlive's built-in apps. So, alongside wmlive's Linux matter editor and terminal emulator and image spectator and truthful on, which don't look aliases activity for illustration Window Maker itself, location is also a GNUstep matter editor and terminal emulator and image viewer, which do look for illustration it and activity for illustration it.

But location is moreover much complexity lying successful hold here. The first introduction connected nan GNUstep Apps paper is GWorkspace, nan GNUstep record manager, which duplicates nan functionality of wmlive's PCManFM. However, GWorkspace isn't conscionable a record manager, it's a desktop. If you motorboat it, abruptly you person 2 docks: 1 afloat of Linux apps connected on right, and a smaller 1 connected nan near pinch conscionable 2 icons. The record head opens to show GNUstep's Applications folder, which is afloat of GNUstep apps, immoderate of which aren't connected Window Maker's menus, specified arsenic Ink, nan rich | matter editor.

If you unfastened GNUstep's GWorkspace record manager, you participate a full caller desktop, pinch its ain dock (on nan left) arsenic well.

If you unfastened GNUstep's GWorkspace record manager, you participate a full caller desktop, pinch its ain dock (on nan left) arsenic good (click to enlarge)

We are powerfully reminded of nan super-lightweight antiX distro, which also put retired a Debian 12-based release recently. Its maintainers can't determine betwixt aggregate record managers and desktops either, truthful it's paradoxically some lightweight and cluttered pinch aggregate redundant choices. This is really Linux distributions utilized to look successful nan 1990s, erstwhile distro builders threw successful each conceivable action to effort to fulfill everyone.

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The main point that changed this was Ubuntu, which had a different, extremist cognition astatine nan time: For each type of app, prime 1 champion prime successful each category, and make judge that they each fitted together and worked alike. Back successful 2004, nan consequence was tiny, clean, and fast. It fresh onto a azygous CD-ROM and had truthful overmuch room to spare that it besides put Windows versions of each its main apps connected nan CD arsenic well, to thief you easiness into switching to a FOSS desktop. Back then, this early vulture was moving SUSE Linux Professional, which by measurement of comparison came connected thing for illustration 7 DVDs afloat of compressed packages – though already good into nan broadband era.

Today, astir distros exemplary themselves connected Ubuntu. They supply nan valuable work of curation: Identifying and including that 1 best-of-breed app successful each superior category, truthful that alternatively than 2 docks and 3 aliases 4 exertion menus, each stuffed pinch hundreds of choices, you person nan twelve aliases truthful basal halfway devices that you need, and an easy app shop to find thing else.

However, since Ubuntu launched, times person changed, arsenic has Ubuntu itself. Its installation ISO is now a fewer gigabytes successful size, while offering precisely nan aforesaid halfway functionality arsenic it did 19 years ago. The task offers nary less than ten charismatic "flavors ," 8 of which connection different desktops, while nan different 2 bundle tons of other apps connected apical of 2 of nan modular desktops.

However, arsenic astir group progressively activity successful browser-based apps, nan existent type of Ubuntu's default installation is now nan minimal one, which provides small much than a web browser, a record manager, and a matter editor. Bloat is simply a superior problem, but nan institution is trying to conflict it.

Window Maker Live, intended to show disconnected 1 minimalistic model manager, could hardly beryllium a starker opposition to Ubuntu's default minimal install. Not only are location astir 150 different graphical programs pre-installed and filling its menus, it besides has 2 docks, and 2 main menus. The second intends it besides has 2 abstracted and independent sets of options to quit, logout, shutdown, and truthful on, but nan GNUstep ones conscionable driblet backmost to nan basal Window Maker desktop.

The Window Maker Live ISO is simply a hefty 2 and three-quarter gigabytes successful size. We consciousness that its maintainers request to study to workout a awesome woody much discretion, and really to execute nan unpleasant task of pruning. Sticking to just nan GNUstep apps would beryllium a awesome start. Unfortunately, a web browser remains 1 of nan devices that situation doesn't offer, but OnFlapp's GNUstep Desktop project that we covered backmost successful July is moving connected that.

We propose that nan squad make a adjacent investigation of GSDE a privilege for its adjacent release. Window Maker Live would beryllium overmuch much awesome if it confined itself to chiefly GNUstep apps, utilizing GNUstep's ain GWorkspace arsenic its record manager. Wmlive already includes some plain and rich | matter editors, a terminal emulator, an email client, and a full group of different devices which fresh successful pinch nan Window Maker look and feel. Judiciously supplementing these pinch a very mini number of carefully-chosen extras to capable successful immoderate holes would, we feel, make a overmuch much awesome objection of nan elegance of Window Maker and Debian, and would connection thing different to immoderate existing desktop distro. At present, it takes a grab-bag attack that feels cluttered and indecisive.

Even so, Window Maker Live offers an replacement position connected nan increasingly homogenous desktop landscape. It's accelerated and responsive, but besides pleasantly different, and it's nosy to research its many, galore options. ®