dxwm - DECwindows window manager
dxwm [ options ]
The dxwm window manager manages the location and size of application windows on the screen. Using dxwm, you can move windows, resize win-
dows, change the order of windows in the window stack, shrink windows to icons, and expand icons into windows. The window manager also
works with applications to assign input focus to windows.
When it starts up, dxwm displays an icon box. The icons in the box represent application windows. A dim icon represents a window that is
displayed on the screen. A bright icon represents a window that is not displayed.
The window manager also places a banner on each application window. The banner consists of buttons that perform window management func-
tions. If an application does not support certain window management functions, its banner does not have the buttons that perform those
From left to right, the banner buttons are:
Shrinks the window into a brightened icon in the icon box.
Title bar Displays the application name or other application-specific information and moves the window around the screen.
Push-to-back button Changes the window's order in a stack of overlapping windows.
Resize button Changes the size of the window.
One window's title bar might be highlighted, to indicate that the window has input focus. (The window with input focus is the window to
which keyboard input is sent).
If sticky windows have been specified (see the following sections Sticky Windows and X Defaults), shading appears on the stacking button of
the sticky windows. By default, no windows are sticky.
Mouse button 1 (MB1), the left button for most users, controls all window manager functions. To use dxwm, you must know how to use MB1 to
click on an object, double click on an object, and drag the pointer.
To click on an object (such as one of the buttons previously described under Appearance), position the pointer over the object, and then
press and immediately release MB1. Try not to move the mouse when MB1 is down.
To double click on an object, click on the object twice in quick succession without moving the mouse.
To drag the pointer, press and hold MB1, move the mouse until the pointer is at the desired location, and then release MB1.
To move a window, position the pointer on the title bar. Press and hold down MB1. A window outline appears. Move the mouse while continu-
ing to hold down MB1, dragging the outline to the new location. When you release MB1, the window shifts to the new position.
The move operation affects an unsticky window more than a sticky window by changing its stack position and input focus. An unsticky window
moves to the top of the window stack (so that it is unobscured by other windows at the new location); a sticky window's position does not
change. An unsticky window also acquires input focus (if it is one that ever takes input); a sticky window does not acquire focus.
To cancel the move operation while you are dragging the window outline, click any other mouse button before releasing MB1.
Shrinking Windows Into Icons
To shrink a window to its icon, click on the shrink-to-icon button; dxwm removes the window and brightens the associated icon in the icon
box. (For another way to shrink a window to its icon, see the section Icon Box Operations.)
To cancel the shrink-to-icon operation, click any other mouse button before releasing MB1.
Expanding Icons Into Windows
To expand an icon into a window, click (or double click) on the icon. The window opens at its previous screen location and at the top of
the window stack, while the icon dims. If the window ever takes keyboard input, it now acquires input focus, unless the user specified oth-
erwise (see the section X Defaults).
To cancel the expand operation, click any other mouse button before releasing MB1.
To adjust the size of one side of a window, point to the resize button. Press and hold MB1. Drag the pointer toward the side you want to
adjust. When the pointer touches the border on that side, dxwm clamps the border; the border's outline now follows the pointer as you move
it around the screen. When the border outline is in the desired new location, release MB1. The window adjusts to the newly sized border.
While dragging the pointer to resize the border, you can change your mind and resize the opposite side instead. Drag the pointer past the
opposite border. The original border outline snaps back and dxwm clamps the more recently crossed border.
To adjust two sides of a window, as if by manipulating the corner, drag the pointer to touch each adjacent border in turn.
The resize operation affects unsticky windows more than it affects sticky ones, by changing their stack position and input focus. During
the resize operation, an unsticky window moves to the top of the window stack. If the unsticky window ever accepts keyboard input, it
acquires input focus. A sticky window retains its position in the window stack and does not acquire input focus.
To cancel the resizing operation, click any other mouse button before releasing MB1.
Changing A Window's Stack Position
Windows are unsticky by default. To raise an unsticky window to the top of the window stack, where it is not obscured by other windows,
click almost anywhere in the window (except on the shrink-to-icon button or the push-to-back button). To lower an unsticky window to the
bottom of the stack, where it is obscured by windows with which it shares a portion of the screen, click on its push-to-back button.
To change a sticky window's position in the window stack, you must use the push-to-back button, since a sticky window retains its position
in the window stack when you click elsewhere. To raise a partially obscured sticky window to the top of the window stack or to lower an
unobscured sticky window to the bottom of the stack, click on the window's push-to-back button.
Making Windows Sticky
To make an unsticky window sticky, press and hold down the Shift keyboard key and click in the push-to-back button of the window. The win-
dow moves to the bottom of the window stack and becomes sticky. Partial shading appears in the push-to-back button to indicate the window's
Making Windows Unsticky
To make a sticky window unsticky, hold down the Shift keyboard key and click on the push-to-back button. The stacking operation for the
sticky window is performed (the window is raised or lowered in the window stack, depending on whether or not it was obscured), but the win-
dow then becomes unsticky and henceforth has unsticky behavior. The push-to-back button's partial shading, which indicated stickiness, now
Assigning Input Focus
The window manager cooperates with applications to assign input focus, in a way that varies according to the user action, the situation,
and the application. You can give an application input focus by clicking on its title bar, clicking into its window, or expanding its
icon. Unsticky windows also acquire input focus when you move or resize them.
When you click on the title bar to assign input focus to a window, clicking leaves the insertion point for input where it was before you
clicked. This lets you give a window input focus without disturbing its contents. In contrast, if you click into the window on a field
where input is possible, clicking places the insertion point for input wherever you clicked. This lets you give input focus and reset the
insertion point in one action.
Icon Box Operations
The icon box is the window manager's application window. Like other application windows, it has a banner, whose buttons allow the icon box
to be moved, resized, lowered, or raised. But unlike other application windows, the icon box cannot be shrunk to an icon: where would its
icon go? Instead, the icon box has a tidy button, described in a later paragraph.
The icon box contains icons for application windows. Most (but not all) application windows store icons in the icon box. Icons can be
large or small, according to user preference (see the section X Defaults); they are small by default. Each icon contains a picture and
some text. The picture for an icon looks like the picture in the shrink-to-icon button of its application window. Dim icons represent
application windows that are currently displayed; bright icons represent those that are not displayed, but are stored in the icon box.
Icons provide quick access to application windows. Clicking in a bright icon expands it into an application window; clicking in a dim icon
removes the window, so that just the brightened icon is displayed. Double-clicking in any icon, bright or dim, brings its application win-
dow to the top of the window stack. If the window accepts input, this action also gives it input focus.
You can move icons around within the icon box to position them conveniently (but you cannot move them out of the icon box). To move an
icon, position the pointer over the icon and drag the outline that appears to the new location, as if moving a window by its title bar.
Icons can overlap: icons on the right overlap icons on the left. Icon pictures, however, cannot overlap.
When adding new icons to the icon box, dxwm places them in left-to-right and top-to-bottom order. When the icons do not fit in the icon
box, dxwm creates horizontal or vertical scroll bars, or both. You can then scroll the icon box to view all of the icons. When adding a
new icon, dxwm attempts to place it at the first position that is visible in the icon box and that has enough space to accommodate the icon
without obscuring others. If no such position is available, dxwm places the icon at the first position with enough space and scrolls the
icon box to make the position visible.
The tidy button of the icon box is in the position usually occupied by a window's shrink-to-icon button. The tidy button rearranges the
icons so that they are arranged one next to another.
Read X(1X) for a general description of the format and function of the .Xdefaults file. The following list describes some dxwm resources
you can set; the description does not attempt to be complete, or to provide a general discussion about resources or the format of resource
Specifies whether windows are sticky at startup. A value of true causes application windows to be sticky at startup. The default
value is false.
Specifies whether application windows start up open or as icons. The value 1 specifies that windows start up open; the value 3
specifies that they start up as icons. The default value is 1.
Specifies whether windows that accept keyboard input automatically acquire input focus when expanded from icons. The value true
means that windows acquire focus when expanded; false means that they do not. The default value is true.
Specifies whether new windows have input focus when they first appear on the screen. The value true means that new windows have
focus; false means they do not. The default value is false.
Specifies whether the window manager tries to assign focus to a window when the window with focus goes away (because it is shrunk
to an icon, for example). The value true means that the window manager tries to assign focus to another window; false means that
it does not automatically assign focus in that situation. The default value is true.
Specifies a limit on mouse movement during a click, to distinguish a user's intention to click on an object from the intention to
drag the object. This helps prevent the window manager from mistaking mouse movement due to slight unintentional hand movement
for intentional mouse motion. The units are pixels; the default value is 3 pixels.
Specifies how much time can elapse between the two clicks of a double mouse click. If the timeout value elapses after one click,
the next click is considered a separate action. The units are milliseconds; the default value is 500 milliseconds.
Specifies how long MB1 can be pressed in the title bar (with no mouse motion) before dxwm treats the action as the start of a
drag rather than as a click. This timeout distinguishes a title bar click (which gives input focus) from the start of a title
drag (which repositions the window). Once the time-out value elapses, any mouse motion while MB1 is down adjusts the position of
the window (even if the motion is less than the value of Wm*default.spaceout). The units are milliseconds; the default value is
Specifies whether to display a flashing outline as a visual cue when shrinking a window to an icon or expanding an icon to a win-
dow. The flashing outline shows boxes of decreasing size (leading from a window to its icon) or increasing size (leading from an
icon to its window). The value true causes flashing outlines to appear; false suppresses them. The default is false.
Specifies the font for the title bar text. The DECwindows default font is the default value for this resource.
Specifies the font for the icon text. The DECwindows default font is the default value for this resource.
Specifies the size and location of the icon box. The format of the geometry string is described in X(1X). The default placement
of the icon box is at screen coordinates 0,0; its height is 46, and its width is approximately the width of the screen.
Specifies whether scroll bars are always displayed in the icon box. The value true means that scroll bars are always displayed
in the icon box; false means that they are displayed only when needed. The default value is false.
Specifies where the horizontal scroll bar appears in the icon box. The value true places the horizontal scroll bar at the top of
the icon box; false places it at the bottom. The default value is false.
Specifies where the vertical scroll bar appears in the icon box. The value true places the vertical scroll bar on the left side
of the icon box; false places it on the right side. The default value is false.
Specifies the color of the thin outer border of each managed window. The default value is white.
Specifies the color of the thick inner border of each managed window and the borders between buttons. The default value is
Specifies whether icons are small or large by default. The value 0 specifies small icons; the value 1 specifies large ones. The
default value is 0.
You can specify that the default values for WmForm and WmIconForm apply to windows of only a specific class, and not to all application
windows. To do this, substitute the class of the application for WmForm or WmIconForm when specifying the resource. For example, the fol-
lowing lines specify that icons are small by default, but that the icon for the Notepad application is large:
Resource settings can be overridden by command line options; see Guide to the XUI Toolkit Intrinsics: C Language Binding for a description
of how to do this. Resources standard to all applications, including dxwm, are described in X(1X).
DECwindows User's Guide
Guide to the XUI Toolkit Intrinsics: C Language Intrinsics