Window Maker: A Real (90s) Desktop

Window Maker Desktop
Window Maker with Dillo, xman, xedit, xclock, and xeyes open.


Anyone at least a little familiar with Linux knows about the different major desktop environments: GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, MATE, etc. For fun, I decided to test a Window Maker on Ubuntu in a virtual machine. Being a fairly experienced Linux user, the learning curve was relatively minimal. Window Maker was designed to closely imitate the NeXTSTEP desktop, an ancestor to the modern macOS interface. It’s a different experience, but it’s light, it’s fast, and it’s 90s. Because it’s not a composited desktop, there’s lots of window tearing. And though you won’t get a ton of eye candy, it’s very customizable and has an awesome control center. If you need a light desktop, are experienced with Linux, like the 90s, and are looking for a different experience, I recommend giving Window Maker a shot.

To Install

To install on Debian/Ubuntu:

# apt install wmaker

Other Distributions: Head to the Window Maker site, download the source code, and compile.

How I Set Up My Environment

I downloaded the Ubuntu 16.04 server CD image and install in qemu.
Once installed I ran:

$ sudo apt install xorg wmaker

To start Window Maker, I typed:

$ startx wmaker

2 thoughts on “Window Maker: A Real (90s) Desktop

Add yours

  1. apt install instead of apt-get install? ive never even heard of that. however it seems to work! interesting…

    never could get myself to like window maker, its just too “weird.” i would probably take it over the native x wm, twm, though i use ctwm for a while. my own distro (fig os) uses icewm– another true 90s wm.

    i find openbox+lxpanel or tint very tolerable and useful, fluxbox i never grew to love (its almost right but just not right) and i find xfce inoffensive and feature-rich, but its never worth the resources.

    everytime i stray from icewm i come back. what do i like about window maker though? its cool looking, very retro, and pretty much i think it has historical significance. where else can you get a feel of what it was like to use a nextstep machine like the one that ran the first web server?

    Liked by 1 person

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