Subject: Re: Window manager selection proposal
To: None <>
From: Jan Schaumann <>
List: tech-x11
Date: 09/15/2002 12:08:03
Martin Husemann <> wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 15, 2002 at 12:08:10PM +0200, Hubert Feyrer wrote:
> > That should be part of XFree, not NetBSD. Better discuss there.
> No, that's a NetBSD question.

It's not.  Or rather, not directly.  The proposed changes are to the X
distribution shipped _with_ NetBSD.  Clearly, you would want such an
improvement to not be specific to NetBSD only, lest other OSs would need
to reimplement the solution (were it implemented properly).

> Our default installation of X is pretty stupid, and it takes a long way to
> get it into a useable state.

I disagree.  Currently, all I need to do is run xf86cfg (or choose any
other way of generating a config file)[1] and I'm all good to go.  I log
in (usually using xdm) and have a very nice, leet, quick and "usable"
window-manager (twm).  After installation of X, this takes me about, oh,
I don't know, 2 minutes.

> We have two ways changing that:
>  - choosing any reasonable window manager and providing a complete,
>    usefull default installation (I'm all for it, as long as it's
>    icewm-gnome and we deliver all of gnome with the base X install ;-} )

Uhuh.  Sure.  I really don't see how the current installation is
incomplete, useless or unusable.

> or
>  - giving the user choice, including tight integration of installed pkgs
> The latter can not be done by the XFree people, they have no NetBSD pkgsrc.

But this requires installation of 3rd party software.  Not everybody
will want to do this.

The problems I see with the initial proposal:

It relies on the existence of software that is not shipped with the base
system.  Thus, the list of windowmanagers may vary rather extensively.
You'd need a mechanism for a windowmanager-package to register itself.
Either a windowmanager-package modifies a file in the basesystem
(/etc/wms, or whatever it may be called), or it puts it into
${LOCALBASE}, in which case the switching program needs to account for
local settings differing from installation to installation.  Of course,
this is possible, but makes things more complicated.

The proposed solution seems to merely swap .xsession with .xwmselect:

|Chris Gilbert wrote:
| this also means that an enduser can run xwmselect at any time, log
| out, log back in and be in a different window manager.

I can do that by editing .xsession (or .xinitrc).

Suppose I want to start up several applications before I start the
windowmanager.  Usually, I place these in .xsession.  How would
xwmselect handle this?  Would .xsession (or .xinitrc) still be read and
executed?  In what order?  What if I just want to start one application
when X starts, and not run any windowmanager?

I think the task of choosing a window- or sessionmanager does not
require another application.  A login-manager such as gdm or kdm can
provide this functionality, if desired.  Or people can simply make the
necessary changes to their .xsession themselves.


[1] Granted, this process could be improved (how, I don't know, as I
haven't put any thought into this), but this problem is not addresses by
the proposal, either.

My other computer also runs NetBSD!