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 Window and desktop managers

The layout of windows on the screen is controlled by special programs called window managers. Although many window managers will honor geometry specifications as given, others may choose to ignore them (requiring the user to explicitly draw the window's region on the screen with the pointer, for example).

Since window managers are regular (albeit complex) client programs, a variety of different user interfaces can be built. The X Consortium distribution comes with a window manager named twm, but most users prefer something more fancy when system resources permit. Sawfish and Enlightenment are popular examples which allow each user to have a desktop according to mood and style.

A desktop manager makes use of one window manager or another for arranging your graphical desktop in a convenient way, with menubars, drop-down menus, informative messages, a clock, a program manager, a file manager and so on. Among the most popular desktop managers are Gnome and KDE, which both run on almost any Linux distribution and many other UNIX systems.

Tip KDE applications in Gnome/Gnome applications in KDE

You don't need to start your desktop in KDE in order to be able to run KDE applications. If you have the KDE libraries installed (the kdelibs package), you can run these applications from the Gnome menus or start them from a Gnome terminal.

Running Gnome applications in a KDE environment is a bit more tricky, because there is no single set of base-libraries in Gnome. However, the dependencies and thus extra packages you might have to install will become clear when running or installing such an application.

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