[TUHS] Four windowing systems on SunOS

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Tue Nov 1 13:25:19 AEST 2022

On Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 01:33:28PM -0600, Nelson H. F. Beebe wrote:
> Larry McVoy reports today:
> >> People like Sunview's api enough that there was an Xview toolkit which
> >> was Sunview ported to X10/X11.
> The interface was nicely documented in three editions of a book (I
> have no entry for the second edition):
> I have the first edition on a shelf near my campus office chair, and
> continue to use olvwm as my window manager on multiple O/Ses, for 30+
> years.

I think (that was so long ago) I had tried each of the guis mentioned
in the blog post, some of them for few hours only. X11 was the best
for me, and then I played with olwm. And then I discovered olvwm and
the concept of virtual desktop - yay, that was really great.

Later I was moved to another SunOS workstation which only had olwm and
they would not install anything when lowly life form asked for it. So
I ftp-ed it from previous workstation and tried, and it occurred that
binary was compatible and ran well... yay, again.

A bit later I had installed my first Linux (Slackware it was) and with it
came olvwm, so I was thrilled to have "emulated" workstation at home.

After that point, I gradually replaced every element of my desktop
environment with other stuff - csh became sh became bash, olvwm became
fvwm with even more virtual desktops, some text editor became emacs
and so on.

> Every window manager designed since seems to fail to understand the
> importance of user customizable, and pinnable, menus, which I exploit
> to the hilt.  The menu customization goes into a single, easy to edit,
> text file, $HOME/.openwin-menu.

I am not sure menus are that much important in my life. I liked fvwm
more, because I could more or less easily customize the key shortcuts
for various windows operations (maximize, iconify, resize, resize back
etc), sometimes in combination with mouse button. This and quickly
moving between desktops, arranging windows so neighbouring desktops
contain parts of the workflow.

Nowadays I prefer to run stuff from the terminal, via proper
commands. If it goes wonky, I can see what happened. This makes me a
bit more mess with more terminals but hey, iconify and hooray.

I only very rarely use menus.

> Compare that to the Gnome desktop, with hundreds of files, many of
> them binary, stored in hidden directories under $HOME, and for which
> any corruption breaks the window system, and prevents login (except
> via a GUI console).

Ah, Gnome and KDE, both are - for me at least - too big and too hard
to manage if something goes wrong. Once I started KDE after upgrade
(ok, that was decade and some years ago, it must have improved by
now), and it went blank at once and started to do 100% cpu and God
knows what (because I could not locate any messages about what it was
doing). Never solved this problem, never was willing to spend time on
it, switched back to fvwm and moved on. From preliminary diagnostics,
I suspect it had something to do with enormous number of html files
buried somewhere on my disc. The lousy thing tried to catalogue it and
probably went into O(n^k) loop.

Those environments are nice to the eye but cannot cope when something
is beyound recognition of their developers.

But they are indispensable when one installs Linux for someone who
really is not going to program their desktop, or edit config
files. For me, in such cases xfce is the nice mix of usability and
acceptable looks.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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