I haven’t got the fastest of machines, so Desktop Environments like Enlightenment & KDE, although incredibly cool, are out of the question for my day to day use. In my quest for a lightweight WM, I have tried Fluxbox, WindowMaker, Fvwm, and a few others. All of these are really neat in their own ways, but the one I finally ended up settling with is Ion3.
Here’s a screenshot of my desktop running Ion3:
That’s all it looks like! Some things that make it stand apart from most other WMs are:
- The keyboard is king here. The whole WM centers around minimizing mouse usage as much as possible. Once you’ve configured the keybindings to your liking you won’t believe how fast and productive you’ve become!
- There are no pretty much no overlapping windows: Every application gets the whole screen all for itself. You can have more than one app in different tabs of the same workspace, and also add as many workspaces as you want.
The nice thing about it is that it doesn’t stubbornly stick to its principles at the cost of usability: if you want floating windows for certain apps (Gaim and the Gimp come to mind), you can do that too. It’s only the default behaviour that uses tabbed windows. One of the first things I did was to change the keybindings: the defaults are F1, F2, etc which conflict with Midnight Commander’s keys. So everything on my Ion is Mod4+F1, Mod4+F2, etc (where Mod4 is the Windows key).
Ion uses a scripting language called Lua for a lot of things (forgive me for being hazy here, I’m kinda blank in these areas). So the point is that you don’t even need to such things to get comfortable with it. Install with it, fiddle around (F1 throws the man page by default), just give this window manager a try: its worth the minimal effort!