Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The AWM paradigm

I have previously posted about AWM (which is not to be confused with Ardent Window Manager). Alpt-wm is the ultra simple, ultra small and BLAZINGLY FAST window manager...

svn co http://dev.hinezumi.org/svnroot/alpt-wm

alpt-wm - dynamic window manager
This is my custom, window manager. It's small, functional and fast.
It is based on dwm ( http://www.suckless.org/wiki/dwm ) and it is just ~1800 lines of code.

...with absolutely NO bells and whistles. So what could be so good about something sooooo small?

Anyone remember screen ? It is the gift to console multitaskers ,particularly when ssh-ed into another system. AWM is to xwindows as screen is to the console. I am tempted to show a couple of screen captures but they would just take up bandwidth.

The Matrix revisited...

AWM allows the user to create a matrix of virtual desktops. X1, Y1 is the first. X1, Y2 is to the right of X1, Y1. X2, Y1 is above X1, Y1 and so on. Ctrl-Alt-RightArrow moves from 1,1 to 1,2 or Alt-Shift-UpArrow moves from 1,1 to 2,1. Each virtual desktop is created as you move to it. I just tried and I made 1,20. Certainly there are memory limitations but the point is that you can make the number of virtual desktops that you need at any given time.

So, I generally start out with two. The first runs a full screen xterm console. No frames, no menu bar, no clashing keymapping. Just a plain and simple CLI. Just like the good old days. But then comes the really great part. On my "second" virtual desktop I start an instance of FireFox, FULL SCREEN (yeah, yeah, I am yelling...'cause I am excited. Whatyawant?)

This is important, why? Why, because running on a IBM R51 laptop means that I only have 1024x768 to begin with. I am excited because I can run my X apps without taking the automatic GUI real estate hit.

So let me recap. I get a nearly unlimited number of virtual desktops. I get full screen console CLI and I get X apps all at the same time. All in about 19 megabytes of memory! (Emphasis mine! :) )

Those are the PROS...
...here are some CONS:
  1. AWM doesn't do anything for you. It is all up to you.
  2. You must start programs from the command line (if you didn't "hard" code them into config.h before you recompiled.)
  3. You have to "remember" what program is running on which virtual desktop.
  4. It has no sex appeal
  5. It has not eye candy

. . .