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Window Manager Helper Programs
These are applications you can use to make your Window Manager experience better - application launchers, pagers, menu systems, screen savers, screen lockers, and stranger things. I will for the most part list only applications that work well in multiple WMs (ie. a pager meant specifically for KDE won't be listed). See also the list of X terminals.
This page is updated, but only intermittently: some applications on this page are probably abandoned.
- Backstep - "draws icons for minimized windows on your desktop"
- Barrier - This is a fully open source fork-replacement for Synergy, which includes encryption in flight (something that should be a default but that Synergy makes you pay for). I highly recommend this for keyboard-and-mouse sharing between multiple machines, and across Linux, Mac, and Windows.
- bbrb - Blackbox background manager
- Cairo-Dock - pretty and customizable dock application, requires compositing. I use this heavily (2015).
- Conky - "a light-weight system monitor."
- dmenu - you'll
need something like this in your fluxbox keys file (or equivalent):
Mod4 P :ExecCommand $(dmenu_path | dmenu -fn 10x20 -nb black -nf white )- a type-until-you-match application launcher, and my personal favourite.
- dzen - "Dzen is a general purpose messaging, notification and menuing program for X11. It was desigend to be scriptable in any language and integrate well with window managers like dwm, wmii and xmonad though it will work with any windowmanager." It is generally displayed as a very narrow strip at the top or bottom of the screen with system or menu information. It works well ... but development appears to have stalled in 2013.
- Fluxspace - "blends Fluxbox's window management with new desktop management capabilities. It leverages existing components and the power of Python to help build a flexible desktop environment around Fluxbox and other lightweight window managers." (Old: "tested with [Python] version 2.2.")
- fbpanel - "fbpanel is a lightweight, NETWM compliant desktop panel." Not developed since 2010.
- Genmenu - menu generator for several WMs. Last updated in 2012.
- GKrellM - stack of system monitor boxes.
- gmrun - a Gnome application launcher
- OBPager - "OBPager is a lightweight pager designed to be used with NetWM-compliant window managers like OpenBox"
- Plank - "Plank is meant to be the simplest dock on the planet." Used by ElementaryOS, and in that context it looks great.
- Polybar - status bar
- PyTyle - Adds tiling to EWMH-compliant WMs
- qcon - make any terminal emulator a Quake-style console. (Points to freecode because the website is broken.)
- Qingy - DirectFB graphical replacement for getty that runs on text terminals. I love this, but it can be a bit of a challenge to get started with. Odd monitor setups will cause problems.
- Rofi - "A window switcher, application launcher and dmenu replacement."
- root-tail - displays log files in different colours on your root window.
- screenpager - "a screenwise pager for X workstations running Xinerama. It works like a desktop pager, but acts at the level of screens." (dated 2010)
- selectwm - allows you to choose your WM when you start X. (dated 2004)
- SLiM - "SLiM is a Desktop-independent graphical login manager for X11, derived from Login.app. It aims to be light and simple, although completely configurable through themes and an option file; is suitable for machines on which remote login functionalities are not needed."
- Stalonetray - stand-alone freedesktop.org and KDE system tray/notification area.
- tabble - tabbed application launcher.
- Tilda - a pull down terminal in the likeness of Quake, Doom, and Halflife.
- Tint2 - taskbar/systray meant for Openbox, works with other WMs as well. I use this on machines not suited to Cairo-Dock (2015).
- VNC - "vnc is a program that allows one to remotely view and interact with real X displays." "Virtual Network Computing" was originally written at AT&T Labs in Britain? Since then it's fragmented terribly, and there are a dozens of clients and servers, so I've linked to the entry at Wikipedia. Make sure the version you use has encryption.
- whaw - "window manager independent window layout tool," brings window tiling to non-tiling WMs.
- Workrave - reminds you to take RSI-preventitive breaks. I've used this for well over a decade and highly recommend it: you should find it bundled with most versions of Linux. It's also available for Windows (but not Mac, sadly).
- wumwum - "A window manager manager," which uses ewmh and wmctrl to make a standard WM such as fluxbox or e17 behave like a tiling WM.
- xdock - emulates Window Maker docks, runs in any WM. (dated 2010)
- xdotool - "simulate keyboard input and mouse activity, move and resize windows, etc."
- Xephyr - Xnest replacement with extensions. Dated 2004 ... but still semi-useful?
- xlockmore - screen locker and screen saver
- Xpra - 'Xpra gives you "persistent remote applications" for X. That is, unlike normal X applications, applications run with xpra are "persistent" -- you can run them remotely, and they don't die if your connection does.'
- XScreenSaver - do I need to tell you?
- xwrits - great little app I used for years to remind me to take wrist breaks to prevent carpal tunnel. (Memory usage: 504 1244 3244). Development seems to have stopped in 2010, and I prefer Workrave these days.