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What is Fvwm-Nightshade?

First of all what is it not - it is not a new desktop and it is not a standalone application. So what is it then? It is a lightweight but feature rich and good looking configuration of Fvwm. It contains many useful things to make work and life easier with a flavor of a modern desktop.

Why we developing Fvwm-Nightshade

Fvwm is a fast, stable and highly configurable windowmanager, despite of his age it can keep up with younger desktop environments easily.

Unfortunately Fvwm has three problems, beginners become frightened to test it:

  1. Most distributions containing a too old version of Fvwm in their repositories (e.g. 2.5.27). Since release 2.6 older versions of Fvwm are no longer supported and therefore interested persons have to compile Fvwm from source.

  2. If this was successfully done and Fvwm is started, not much will be shown. Searching the web for better configurations than the default one discovers many results. There are good looking and feature rich configurations (e.g. 1, 2) but trying them to run ends up mostly in frustration to get them working (except 3 and 4). People try to test some of them with more or less good results but at the end Fvwm is removed and replaced with Xfce, Lxde or Openbox because ...

  3. Mostly of the configurations are too complicated/confusable. Or they're made for one desktop resolution only. Some are too old or made for static systems. To adapt them means to become acquainted with Fvwm's huge documentation, but RTFM isn't that what normal users like. They want to install a desktop environment and then work with it, not experimenting many days to get it work.

This is why we developing Fvwm-Nightshade. We want to show

  • how easy it is to install
  • how good and modern looking Fvwm can be
  • how fine it is for daily work
  • that it can work out of the box
  • some specials other desktop haven't

Ok, Fvwm-Nightshade isn't complete (which environment is that ...) but with the users help it will be in the future. Give it a try and tell us your impressions.


Here are the current features we've implemented:

  • Works now with FVWM 2.6.5 but with full support of Xdg menus like in CVS version
  • Own configuration directory ~/.fvwm-nightshade. So you can use it parallel to an existing Fvwm configuration
  • Own entry "Fvwm-Nightshade" in graphical login managers
  • Different layouts which fits automatically for any desktop resolution:
    • Horizontal (Top)
    • Vertical (Right)
    • G2like (Top & Bottom)
  • Different themes/decors (Clean, Ambience, FlatTab, Tribal, CrystalBalls and Air) which adapt automatically for any resolution. Can changed on the fly without restart.
  • 4 virtual desktop pages
  • Taskbar to show running apps per page
  • Create thumbs with mini icon and name for iconified applications instead of their icons
  • Lock desk & screensaver
  • Dynamic menus
    • Wallpaper thumb browser
    • Personal menu (Favorites)
    • Help pages
    • Icon size is adapted automatically to used size in fvwm-menu-desktop created menu(s)
  • Different config tools
    • For base settings (Font, layouts, etc)
    • Governor-tool to handle cpufreq settings
    • useful set of GUI tools to configure the global system (Gtk+, Qt, mouse, keyboard, etc)
  • Animation control of window moves
  • Configurable Splash screen
  • Simple "Run" command with FvwmForm
  • Autostart possibility (starting apps while startup)
  • Help messages for mouse bindings in titlebar, window, corners, sides and icons/thumbnails. Also for key bindings.
  • Switching focus between windows with Alt-Tab (forward) / Shift-Alt-Tab (backward)
  • Key bindings leaned on to the "bigger" DE's
  • Build support for deb, rpm, Arch and Gentoo packages
  • Possibility to install Fvwm-Nightshade without root permissions
  • Localization support for German, French and Spanish
  • Smart maximize windows - move and resize windows to the largest free area of a desktop/page
  • New set of vector icons for menus and internal apps to exchange wm-icons
  • Own XDG applications menu with it's own directory files
  • Revised fvwm-menu-desktop GUI with help windows
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