Since the beginning of GNU / Linux, the use and diversity of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) available has been growing. And at the same time, some competition has also grown among users, new and experienced, about which is the best among the many existing options.
However, the current options available from GUI for GNU / Linux, That is, the Window Managers (Windows Managers - WM, in English) most popular or well-known, they usually come integrated within the also well-known and complete Desktop Environments (Desktop Environments - DE, in English) while many others, just as good, but perhaps less known or used, usually come independently of a Desktop Environment specific.
Let us remember that, between a Desktop Environment and a Window Manager there are very clear differences when talking about a GNU / Linux Operating System.
First, it is worth noting the existence of X Window System (X Windows, in English), which It is considered the base that allows drawing graphic elements on the screen. As, X Windows provides the support that allows the movement of the windows, the interactions with the keyboard and the mouse, and draws the windows. And all this is necessary for any graphic desktop.
With this in mind, we can better understand that it is a Window manager and a Desktop Environment.
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It is the piece of the puzzle that controls the placement and appearance of the windows. And that requires X Windows to function but not from a Desktop Environment, of obligatory form. And according to ArchLinux Official Wiki, in its section dedicated to «Windows Managers«, These are divided into 3 types, which are the following:
- Stacking: Those that mimic the appearances and functionalities of Windows and OS X, therefore, manage windows like pieces of paper on a desktop, which can be stacked on top of each other.
- Tiling: Those of the "mosaic" type where the windows do not overlap, and where there is usually a very extensive use of keyboard shortcuts, and less dependence on the use of the mouse is obtained.
- Dynamics: Those that allow you to dynamically alternate the design of the windows between mosaics or floating.
It is an element or system much more integrated than a Window Manager. And therefore requires both X Windows like a Window Manager, to work. Which is why most usually include their own and / or make use of one or more independent WMs to function optimally.
In addition, it is important to note that a Desktop Environment generally includes a set of applications that are tightly integrated so that all applications know each other, such as, an application of type panel (taskbar) that facilitates certain operations such as placing small elements (widgets) for quick action or information to improve the user experience.
In case, you want to know more about the Desktop Environments, we recommend exploring our following previous available entries:
Window Managers versus Desktop Environments
Pertaining to a specific Desktop Environment
- Metacity: From GNOME
- Mother: From GNOME Shell
- KWin: From KDE and KDE Plasma
- XFWM: From XFCE
- Muffin: From Cinnamon
- Marco: Matte
- DeepinWM: From Deepin
- Gala: From Pantheon
- BudgieWM: From Budgie
- UKWM: From UKUI
Independent of a specific Desktop Environment
- 2BWM: https://github.com/venam/2bwm
- 9WM: https://github.com/9wm/9wm
- AEWM: http://freshmeat.sourceforge.net/projects/aewm
- Afterstep: http://afterstep.org/
- Awesome WM: https://awesomewm.org/
- BerryWM: https://berrywm.org/
- Blackbox: https://github.com/bbidulock/blackboxwm
- BSPWM: https://github.com/baskerville/bspwm
- Byobu: https://byobu.org/
- Compiz: http://www.compiz.org/
- CWM: https://github.com/leahneukirchen/cwm
- DWM: http://dwm.suckless.org/
- Enlightenment: http://www.enlightenment.org
- EvilWM: https://github.com/nikolas/evilwm
- EXWM: https://github.com/ch11ng/exwm
- Fluxbox: http://www.fluxbox.org
- FLWM: http://flwm.sourceforge.net/
- FVWM: https://www.fvwm.org/
- Haze: http://www.escomposlinux.org/jes/
- Herbstluftwm: https://herbstluftwm.org/
- I3WM: https://i3wm.org/
- IceWM: https://ice-wm.org/
- Ion: http://freshmeat.sourceforge.net/projects/ion/
- JWM: https://joewing.net/projects/jwm/
- MatchBox: https://www.yoctoproject.org/software-item/matchbox/
- Metisse: http://insitu.lri.fr/metisse/
- Musca: https://github.com/enticeing/musca
- MWM: https://motif.ics.com/
- OpenBox: http://openbox.org/wiki/Main_Page
- Pekwm: https://github.com/pekdon/pekwm
- PlayWM: https://github.com/wyderkat/playwm
- Qtile: http://www.qtile.org/
- Ratpoison: http://www.nongnu.org/ratpoison/
- Sawfish: https://sawfish.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page
- Spectrwm: https://github.com/conformal/spectrwm
- Steamcompmgr: https://github.com/ValveSoftware/SteamOS/wiki/steamcompmgr
- StumpWM: https://stumpwm.github.io/
- Sugar: https://sugarlabs.org/
- SwayWM: https://swaywm.org/
- TWM: https://www.x.org/releases/X11R7.6/doc/man/man1/twm.1.xhtml
- UltimateWM: http://udeproject.sourceforge.net/
- VTWM: http://www.vtwm.org/
- Wayland: https://wayland.freedesktop.org/
- Wingo: https://github.com/BurntSushi/wingo
- WM2: http://www.all-day-breakfast.com/wm2/
- WMFS: https://github.com/xorg62/wmfs
- WMX: http://www.all-day-breakfast.com/wmx/
- Window Maker: https://www.windowmaker.org/
- WindowLab: https://github.com/nickgravgaard/windowlab
- Xmonad: https://xmonad.org/
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