getting started with xwindows.

the initial panic

X windows is not Microsoft Windows, and there are things you'll need to notice.
Most importantly, the manuals refer to the Mod1 key; think Alt.

get your X terminal ...

empty desktop

X terminals used generally to be special-purpose computers built for exactly that job. More usually, they're simulated with desktop computer apps. See ssh, vnc, rdp.

Log in to get to the (rather sparse) desktop.

down to work: the pwm window manager

desktop menus

Click on the background (use the left button) to bring up the menu. If you want, click on the menu's title bar and it will stay, pinned up. Press Esc and it will go away. (It will if the menu has keyboard focus: read on.)

Unix computers come with a lot of software, so the menu is something of a top ten -- not comprehensive. This brings us to ...


The most important of all programs on the menu is xterm --- it provides a window for entering commands.

Pwm decorates a window with two features: a border and a title bar at the top. Both are lit up (here, yellow) on the window that owns the keyboard at the moment ( has focus , we say ), and you change that by moving the mouse around.

See that owning the keyboard and being at the front are separate.

You can change the size of a window by dragging the side; move it around by dragging the title bar or holding down Mod1 and dragging the border or the body; or roll it up (like a window shade) into the title bar by double-clicking there. Mod1-S does the same.
A double-click on a rolled-up window will roll it down.

A click on a window's title bar or border will bring the window to the front. So will Mod1-Up-arrow. Mod1-Down-arrow will send the window to the back of the stack.

If you run out of room to lay out your windows, you can have a fresh workspace by pressing Mod1-Right-arrow.
Go back with Mod1-Left-arrow.
There are six workspaces in all; go directly to the one you want with Mod1-1 through Mod1-6.

Note that pinned-up menus are 'sticky': you see them whatever the workspace. Any window may be made sticky; see the window menu by doing a Rightclick on a title bar or border.


what how
workspace 1 Mod1-1
workspace 2 Mod1-2
(up to)
workspace 6 Mod1-6
next workspace Mod1-Right-arrow
previous workspace Mod1-Left-arrow
next window this workspace Mod1-Tab
this window to top Mod1-Up-arrow
this window to bottom Mod1-Down-arrow
vertical stretch Mod1-V
hide the dock Mod1-T
(the set of little programs,
such as the clock)
enter keyboard move & resize mode Mod1-Enter
Main menu Mod1-M or click-on-background
xterm Mod1-E or find in menu
close-this-window Mod1-X
(and probably quit the program
that owns the window)
roll up window Mod1-S or double-click on title
close a menu Esc or double-click on title
keep a menu Z or click on title

Full details? Read these:


When you're done

Logout is the last item in the menu.

If you get bored with the teddy bear, make him go away by typing q.

A.E. Dec 2013