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Sometimes the shell just isn't good enough, ie for graphics and video work. For this you will need a Graphical User Interface, or GUI for short. Under unix generally, this is the X windows system (or X for short).
As you would expect, being unix, it does not do things as you would expect them to be done. Using microsoft as an example, in windows 95, the thing that you normally see as the windows 95 desktop called TASKMAN gives you those strange looking windows. There is an alternate one called PROGMAN which gives you the old windows 3.1 look and feel. Under X they have taken this a step further, and split off the bit that talks to the hardware (the X server) from the bit that controls how your windows look, the window manager, and again you have a staggering amount of choice.
Window managers are a very personal preference, and thus there is no BEST window manager, any more than there is a best shell. They have a great diversity of look and feel, of size and complexity, and of configurability. Some of the window managers that we know about include TWM, FVWM2, IceWM, Sawfish, Blackbox, Window Maker, After Step, Enlightenment, KWM (part of KDE) and of course there are others.
If that wasn't good enough, you can go even further and have an Integrated Desktop Environment (or IDE for short).
last modified 00:42 2003/08/14