Window Maker Live is a nostalgic reminder of early Linux

Window Maker Live is a nostalgic reminder of early Linux

Window Maker Live: A Journey Through the Evolution of Linux Desktops

Window Maker

Linux has come a long way since its early days. The kernel has become more sophisticated and capable, and the graphical user interfaces (GUIs) have made the operating system incredibly easy to use. In fact, working with Linux has become almost boring. But it wasn’t always like this.

In the early years, running Linux on the desktop meant a lot of configuration through text files and often required diving into the command line. Each window manager had its own way of doing things, and users had to edit desktop menus via text files. One such window manager was Window Maker, which I had the pleasure of using as my default desktop for a few years.

Window Maker was not the most convenient option, but it was fast, lightweight, and offered a unique experience. Recently, I installed Window Maker Live, a Linux distribution dedicated to bringing Window Maker back to relevance, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it hadn’t changed much since my early days with it. The distribution allowed me to reminisce about the past while appreciating the efficiency of modern Linux.

Window Maker is a window manager, which controls the placement and appearance of windows. Unlike a full-blown desktop environment, a window manager is less integrated. It forms part of the desktop environment stack, along with the windowing system and installed applications.

Window Maker Desktop Menu

Window Maker Live includes the windowing system and window manager. However, to install applications and make them appear in the desktop menu, some manual configuration is required. For example, to install Firefox on Window Maker Live, you need to open a terminal window and install Firefox ESR using the command sudo apt-get install firefox-esr -y. After installation, Firefox does not automatically appear in the desktop menu. You have to manually add it by editing a configuration file.

Despite the extra configuration required, using Window Maker Live provides a learning opportunity and a glimpse into the early days of Linux. It may not appeal to everyone, but for those interested in experiencing the evolution of Linux desktops, Window Maker Live is worth trying.

The desktop of Window Maker Live may seem unfamiliar to those accustomed to modern desktop environments. The icons on the desktop have specific functions, such as the desktop pager for managing virtual desktops, a welcome app, window manager preferences app, and quick access drawers for launching applications. The simplicity and efficiency of the desktop layout are noteworthy.

Interacting with open applications in Window Maker Live is different from standard desktop environments. Instead of minimize/maximize/close buttons, there is one button in the top-left corner and a close button in the top-right corner. Clicking the button in the top-left corner minimizes the application to the bottom-left corner of the desktop. Double-clicking the minimized icon brings the application back. Clicking the title bar of an application shades it, rolling it up into the title bar and allowing movement around the desktop.

Window Maker Desktop

The beauty of Window Maker Live lies in its efficiency and reliability. As you become more familiar with how it works, you can create a highly efficient and lightning-fast desktop. However, it does require some manual configuration and a time investment. The question is, do you have the time to invest in such an effort?

Using Window Maker Live reminded me of how I started my journey with Linux. It offers a nostalgic experience for those who want to revisit the past or explore early Linux desktops. I highly recommend giving this distribution a try if you are interested in Linux’s evolution.

You can download Window Maker Live from the official download page and take a step back in time while appreciating the progress of Linux desktops.


  • Window Maker Live is a Linux distribution dedicated to bringing back the Window Maker window manager.
  • Window Maker is a window manager that controls the placement and appearance of windows.
  • Window Maker Live provides a glimpse into the early days of Linux desktops and requires some manual configuration.
  • The desktop layout of Window Maker Live is efficient and simple, with specific icons serving different functions.
  • Interacting with open applications in Window Maker Live is different but efficient.
  • Window Maker Live offers an opportunity to experience the evolution of Linux desktops and appreciate the advancements made in modern Linux.
  • Using Window Maker Live requires a time investment but can result in a highly efficient and reliable desktop.
  • It is worth trying out Window Maker Live for those interested in Linux history and exploring early Linux desktop environments.