Window managers

What is a Window Manager?

A window manager is the software than runs your desktop environment, handling windows, menus, toolbars, accessories and the overall look-and-feel of your login session.

Unlike Windows and OSX, Linux lets you choose whatever window manager you want - and there are several to choose from here at CSE.

How do I change my Window Manager?

The easiest way is to click the 'Sessions' button on the login screen.

A window will pop up, offering you a choice of different window managers, along with a couple of advanced options.

Click on the window manager you want, and click Change Session before logging in as normal.

A dialog will pop up, asking if you want to set this as the default, or just use it once.

Available sessions

There's more than a handful of available entries - this article will cover the most common ones, and you can try the rest for yourself.

Last Session
Should probably say 'Default Session' instead. Whatever you have set as your current default.
Run Xclient script
For custom sessions - runs whatever is in your ~/.xsession file.
A full-featured window manager, perhaps the easiest if you're used to Windows.
Similar to GNOME, but more lightweight. Recommended for most users.
Windows 10
A virtual machine running Windows 10. Not recommended for most coursework, but handy if you need Windows software temporarily
A more old-school Linux desktop. Right-click the desktop for the application menu; google for the many, many configurable options
Failsafe Terminal
Effectively 'safe mode' - a single terminal that will work even if your environment is broken (eg. out of disk space)
Last edited by robertd 23/10/2018

Tags for this page:

gnome, KDE, fluxbox, linux, laboratory