[lug] Basic Guidance: Revisited

rm at fabula.de rm at fabula.de
Wed Sep 25 14:21:07 MDT 2002

On Wed, Sep 25, 2002 at 01:10:33PM -0600, John Dollison wrote:
> Charlie,
>  KDE & Gnome are Window Managers, they give you a pretty Windows-like
> desktop (GUI) instead of a command line to work from.  If you're new to
> linux, you'll definitely want one.  I'd suggest installing both, and you can
> switch between the two until one strikes your fancy.  There several other
> Window Managers available on the Mandrake CD (and probably other CD's, as
> well).

Maybe this is nitpicky, but this is not entirely correct. KDE and Gnome
are desktop environments, not window managers. If you are used to MS windows
or Macintosh you  won't know the difference, but the Xwindows environment
lets you have different applications for these jobs. A window managers job
is to draw window frames arround applications windows, move and resize
them on users request (usually by dragging the window frame with the mose)
etc. There's a plehora of window managers to chose from. Another important
job of the window manager is the management of the so-called 'root window'
(that's the big window behind all others -- most people would call it the
screen background). Whenever a user clicks on that the window manager gets
notified by the X server and can react (most often by displaying a menu).

A desktop environment usually will install a huge window in front of this
root window to catch all these events and it will also use this window in
case the user wants to put files or  folders on her 'desktop'. The two most
often used desktop environments on Linux (Gnome/KDE) will both come with
libraries that provide X widgets to applications. Applications linked to
these will have a common look and feel, but, if you have installed both
sets of libraries, it's possible to run KDE apps in a Gnome environment
and vice versa. Both environments also come with other features such as
drag-and-drop between applications, component support (a bit like OLE/COM
on Win or OpenDoc on old Macs). If you don't fancy lots of files on your
desktop you might very well live happy without a desktop environment ...
I personaly just run a window manager (pwm) and seldom miss the 'big'
desktop environments (BTW, if you know  SunOS/Solaris or HPUX or AIX,
their equivalent to KDE/Gnome would be CDE, the common desktop environment).

  Ralf Mattes

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