Window Maker Live

Window Maker Live release 0.95.6-1 (September 2014) available!

As you read these lines, ISO images of wmlive release 0.95.6-1 for both amd64 and i386 are available from sourceforge.net/projects/wmlive/files/wmlive_0.95.6-1 for immediate download. A complete list of highlights and changes are included in the README_0.95.6-1.txt and the ChangeLog. In the meantime, some minor errata may have been released and would be available from same distribution folder as the ISO images as an errata.tar.xz file.

What is Window Maker Live?

Window Maker Live (wmlive) is an installable Linux live CD/ISO, and is based mostly on the recently released "Wheezy" branch of Debian Linux. While its main purpose is to provide a show case for the Window Maker window manager, which serves as its default graphical user interface and therefore has received special preconfiguration care, it can also be considered as an alternative installation CD for Debian/Wheezy. As such, wmlive is fully compatible with and relies on the official Debian/Wheezy repositories for security updates and bug fixes.

Window Maker Live (wmlive) was developed mainly on a Thinkpad T61 and with (mostly older) Thinkpads in mind. So you can for example expect to have tp-smapi and trackpoint scrolling running out of the box. It also includes the very useful ultrabay-scripts package, implementing hot-plugging of UltraBay devices and battery management.

Window Maker is alive!

Don't be mistaken, Window Maker is alive and kicking! The latest development code is available from repo.or.cz/w/wmaker-crm.git. Discussion about further Window Maker development is currently happening in lists.windowmaker.info/dev and also lists.windowmaker.info/user. Regularly updated daily builds of the above mentioned git repository code is available from www.the-little-red-haired-girl.org/pub/wmaker,

Form follows function: Screenshots

Since one of the main objectives consists in unifying the overall looks in accordance to the Window Maker widget style, only Gnome2 and GTK2 based components were taken into account for this release, as only these support the GTK2-Step theme. In order to provide a homogeneous graphical user interface, a lot of additional icons and the very important GTK2-Step theme for Gnome2 are included.

While the main focus of Window Maker Live definitely is about overall usability and functionality, for the more visually oriented, here are a few screenshots from a former relase to give you an initial idea about the default user interface. Click the thumbnails to open a larger image in a new window:

Boot Logo and Login Screen

Standard Desktop Impressions

Assorted Application Windows

First Debian Installation Steps

There is also a nice short video by youtube.com/user/hungarianunixportal available at youtube.com/watch?v=R2t-1LGQU1k which was made for a former release version, and which very nicely demonstrates the Window Maker desktop of an older release version.

Creating a Window Maker Live CD

The Window Maker Live CD applies the Window Maker window manager as default graphical user interface, and successfully manages to integrate well known standard open source components in a very attractive and usable user interface.

This is of special interest for Linux users, who are not really happy with the recent graphic user interface developments of the more commonly applied Linux distributions. As Window Maker provides a very good balance between usability and a light interface, there is no reason to bother with the overhead of a full blown desktop environment.

Once the Window Maker Live CD is created and booted, it will automagically start up with a Window Maker session. Thanks to the extensive preconfiguration of the desktop, after having become acquainted with the Window Maker basics, one can just start using it for normal productivity, without having to bother about any major configuration tasks.

For the integrated GNOME components, Window Maker Live contains suitably modified gconf settings. Firefox and Thunderbird are included in their latest versions, and are already enhanced with some essential productivity addons.

Another requisite for Window Maker Live is also to do without mostly pointless toys, games and gadgets, in order to make room for much more useful system administration features. Gnome2 applications are reduced to a bare minimum, essentially only leaving GDM and a few minor utilities, and instead more or less equivalent GTK2 and XFCE4 programs are installed.

The installed packages also contain a wide range of proven console applications (mc, rsync, screen, sshfs, vim, mutt, openssh, etc.) and advanced features like LVM and the system-config-lvm GUI to manage it. Naturally, quite a few of the most practical Window Maker dockapps were added on top and are already part of the default desktop. A detailed listing of all included software packages can be found in the Window Maker Live download area at sourceforge.net

Thanks to the great Debian menu system, the Window Maker menus are regenerated and updated every time a package is installed or removed, so they are automatically kept up to date.

Ready-made Window Maker Live CD ISO images for download

You can find the most recent ISO image releases for download at http://sourceforge.net/projects/wmlive/files/wmlive_0.95.6-1. These ISO images currently offer only English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish language support.

As these ISO images are basically standard Live Debian installation media, they work just fine for installation to hard disk, and can therefore be used to bootstrap a new system. The Debian installer used for these ISO's is based on the current "wheezy" release version. We have included a work around for the grub boot loader installation, so that installation usually succeeds with no further issues.

The technical basis for the Window Maker Live CD

The technical basis for the Window Maker Live CD mastering is relying on the packaging infrastructure provided by the Debian Live Project. The single most important components are live-build - System Build Scripts and the closely associated live-installer, which both rely on and integrate the live-boot - System Boot Scripts and the live-config - System Configuration Scripts. Some in depth documentation for the Debian Live Project components can be found at Debian Live Manual web site.

The specific configuration customizations for these Window Maker Live releases are also available for download at http://sourceforge.net/projects/wmlive/files/wmlive_0.95.6-1. The current wmlive_build.d-2014-09-17.tar.xz archive contains the necessary material to build the Window Maker Live ISO images with the Debian Live Build system on your own.

The package assortment used is largely based on the current stable ("wheezy") branch of the Debian archive, with only a few selected packages taken from "unstable" ("sid"), and also from the former "oldstable" ("squeeze") and even some "experimental". This essentially means that Window Maker Live does not come with any stability warranties whatsoever.

About earlier releases

Window Maker Live is by no means a brand new project, and is in development since more than three years. The first released versions were created on the basis of remastering and customizing already existing Ubuntu Live CD images with the very nice Ubuntu Customization Kit. Unfortunately, the possibilities provided by this procedure were too limiting, so we just switched to Debian, and this has opened a whole new range of possibilities for our project.


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