Skip to content

Latest commit



233 lines (177 loc) · 8.46 KB

File metadata and controls

233 lines (177 loc) · 8.46 KB

Developing for FVWM

This document aims to help the developer with the expectations when dealing with the FVWM3 source code.

The FVWM3 source conforms to the Linux kernel style guide.

Command Parsing

The internal representation of how fvwm3 parses commands in undergoing a rewrite. Some notes on how fvwm3 parses commands exists.

Branch Workflows / Submitting Code Changes

The main FVWM3 repository treats the main branch as stable, in that it's the branch which has the most tested code on it, and the branch from which releases are made. Formal releases of FVWM3 are tagged, in the form x.y.z, historical versions of FVWM3 are tagged as version-x_y_z. Untagged code may well accumulate on main, which will go to form the next release.

Other branches in the repository will reflect on-going development from core fvwm-workers. As such, these branches are often in a state of flux, and likely to be rebased against other branches. NO code should be based off topic branches, unless explicitly agreed with other developers, who might need to collaborate.

Branch naming

Branch names are used to try and indicate the feature, and who is working on them. So for example, a topic-branch will be named as:


For example:


denotes that the branch is worked on by someone with the initials TA and that the branch is about fixing warnings from Clang.

Sometimes, if more than one person is collaborating on a branch, the initials prefix might not be needed.

Submitting Pull-requests

External contributions are always welcomed and encouraged. If you're thinking of writing a new feature, it is worthwhile opening an issue against the fvwm3 repository to discuss whether it's a good idea, and to check no one else is working on that feature.

Those wishing to submit code/bug-fixes should:

  • Fork the FVWM3-repository
  • Add the FVWM3-repo as an upstream remote:
    • git remote add fvwmorg && git fetch fvwmorg
  • Create a topic-branch to house your work:
    • git switch -b initial/mybranch
    • [ hack, hack, hack... ] && commit
  • Rebase it against fvwmorg/main:
    • git fetch && git rebase -i fvwmorg/main
  • Push the latest changes to your fork:
    • If you've never pushed this branch before: git push -u origin HEAD
    • Or, if updating an existing branch: git push origin -f
  • Open a pull-request

Protected branches and the use of Github Actions

Pull-requests made will result in the use of Github Actions being run against the branch. This builds the copy of the pushed code in a Debian environment, with all the additional libraries FVWM could use, loaded in. If a build fails this check, it is recommend to fix this by rebasing the commits with the additional fixes

The FVWM3 repository also treats the main branch as protected. This is a GitHub feature which means the main branch in this case cannot have changes merged into it until Github Actions has verified the builds do not fail.

This has merit since not every developer will be using the same operating systems (Linux versus BSD for instance), and that main is meant to try and be as release-worthy as can be.

NOTE: This means that no work can be committed to main directly. ALL work that needs to appear on main---including the release process---MUST go via a separate topic-branch, with a PR (pull-request). Not even fvwmorg owners are an exception to this.

Merging changes / Pull Requests

The history of main should be as linear as possible, therefore when merging changes to it the branch(es) in question should be rebased against main first of all. This will stop a merge commit from happening.

If using github this process is easy, since the Merge pull request button has an option to Rebase and Merge. This is what should be used. See also the documentation on Github

If this is manual (which will only work when the Github Actions checks have passed), then:

git checkout topic/branch
git fetch --all
git rebase -i origin/main
git checkout main
git merge topic/branch
git push


The following tries to list all the conventions that the fvwm developers adhere to, either by consensus through discussion, common practice or unspoken agreement. It is hopefully useful for the fvwm development newbie.

Programming Languages

The following programming languages are allowed:

  • ANSI C
  • Perl
  • Portable /bin/sh scripts for examples.


At the top-level of the fvwm3 git repo, is a .editorconfig file which sets some options which can be used across different editors. See the editorconfig webpage for more information and to see whether your editor is supported.

New Code Files

  • All .c files must have
#include "config.h"

as the first non-comment line. Otherwise the settings made by the configure script may not be used. This can cause random problems.

File Names

  • The names of the code files in the fvwm directory are in lower case.
  • Files in the libs directory may begin with a capital 'F'. This letter is reserved for wrapper files for third party libraries or modules. For example, FShape is an abstraction of the XShape X server extension and FBidi is a wrapper for the fribidi library. Do not use the 'F' for other purposes.

Copyright Notices

  • A copy of the GPL should be at the beginning of all code files (.c) and scripts, but not at the beginning of header files (.h).

Maintaining Man Pages

  • Every feature must be described with all options in the man page. Man pages are generated via Asciidoctor from files in doc/

Creating a release

Make sure you have all optional libraries installed.

NOTE: as main is a protected branch, changes made to files during the release phase must be done on a separate branch, and not on main directly, as pushes to this branch are not allowed until checks have been done on it. This means the end result of the release-phase must have these changes issued as a pull-request against main.

  1. git checkout main && git pull && git checkout -b release/x.y.z Where: x.y.z will be the next release.

  2. Change the dates in and fill in the release dates.

  3. Set ISRELEASED to "yes".

  4. Change utils/ and include the appropriate version string.

  5. Commit the results.

  6. Run: ./ && make clean to get the tree into a clean slate. Because this is a release, the source needs compiling. To do that, run:

     make CFLAGS="-g -O2 -Wall -Wpointer-arith -fno-strict-aliasing -Werror"

    Fix all warnings and problems, commit the changes and repeat the previous command until no more warnings occur.

  7. Tag the release: git tag -a x.y.z -- where x.y.z represents the appropriate version number for the release.

  8. Build and test the release tarballs:

    Run: make dist

    If that succeeds, check for fvwm-x.y.z.tar.gz in the current working directory. This is the release tarball which will be uploaded to Github. Unpack it to a temporary directory and build it; check the version as well, via: ./fvwm --version.

  9. Push the tag out: git push origin x.y.z -- where x.y.z is the specific tag created in step 6.

  10. Set ISRELEASED to "no" in and commit and push that out.

  11. Issue a PR (pull-request) against main and merge that in assuming all checks pass. If not, fix the problems, and repeat this step.

  12. Upload the fvwm-x.y.z.tar.gz tarball to Github against the tag just pushed.

  13. Update the fvwm web site (see below)

Updating fvwm-web

  1. Ensure you've a checkout of the repository:

    git clone
  2. Update the RELEASE variable in Makefile to the desired version which has been released.

  3. Run make. This will update all relevant files.

  4. git commit -a the result, and push it out.