An OpenBSD desktop using WindowMaker

Since I started using *N?X, I’ve regularly used WindowMaker. I’ve always liked the look and feel, the dock system and the dockapps. It may look a bit oldish nowadays. And that’s enough to try to change this. So here it is, a 2019 flavored WindowMaker Desktop, running on OpenBSD 6.4/amd64.

First thing to do is to install the binary packages ; wm* are only required to achieve the final look. That’s easy:

# pkg_add windowmaker wmcalclock wminfo wmmo

Then, as your normal user, run the initialization program:

# wmaker.inst
Installing WindowMaker 0.95.8 for current user…
Creating /home/jca/GNUstep user directory
Copying defaults database…
Now the .xinitrc, .Xclients or .xsession script must be updated so that it calls wmaker when you start an X session.
Type the name of the file that must be changed (normally .xinitrc).
If the file already exists, it will be backed up with a .old.Feb15.17:58:18 extension
If you want to edit it by hand, hit -C now.
Installation Finished

Next thing to do is telling Xenodm to start WindowMaker when you log in. If you use startx(1) rather than xenodm(1), replace .xsession by .xinitrc in the following paragraph:

# echo 'exec /usr/local/bin/wmaker' >> ~/.xsession

You can now log in and enjoy WindowMaker. After a few customization, it’ll look pretty “up-to-date”.

This configuration uses the Nord color-scheme, the Adapta-Nokto-Eta GTK theme and the Moblin Unofficial Icons icon set. I did remove applications icons. I just don’t need them on the bottom of the screen as I heavily use “F11” to pop-up the windows list. To be able to do that and keep the dockapps, I tweaked my ~/GNUstep/Defaults/WMWindowAttributes and created a ~/GNUstep/Library/WindowMaker/Themes/Nord.themed/style.

And here it is, the NeXT OpenBSD Desktop!

Author: Joel Carnat

@work Technical Architect and SysAdmin ; @home OpenBSD and FOSS, Karate, Kobudō, Jōdō, Bodyweight workout, Photography & Music

5 thoughts on “An OpenBSD desktop using WindowMaker”

  1. Hey, I just wanted to thank you so much. I’ve been running WindowMaker for quite a while now and i’ve always wanted to disable the application icons though I could never find any documentation online about how to (I looked mainly on the WindowMaker website).

  2. OpenBSD rookie here.

    I followed the above commands, but it still keeps booting into the default window manager.
    BTW:Are the single quotes required in the “exec” command?

    Can’t think what I’ve missed.

    1. modifying .xsession implies using xenodm to log into X. also, if you have something else in your current .xsession, it may start this before wmaker.

      single quotes is a habbit I have when echoing strings to file. it may not be used.

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