Window Mangers and Desktop Environments are the primary user interfaces into the X Window System. A window manager is a program that controls the appearance of windows and provides the means by which the user can interact with them. A Desktop Environment provides a more complete interface to the operating system, and provides a range of integrated utilities and applications.
There are many Window Mangers available. Some of the more well known ones include fvwm2, Window Maker, AfterStep, Enlightenment, Sawfish, and Blackbox.
The Desktop Environments available for Linux are GNOME, KDE, and XFce.
Choosing a Window Manager or Desktop Environment is highly subjective. The choice depends on the look and feel of the packages, the resources (RAM, disk space) required, and the utilities included. One web site that provides a very good summary of what is available, screenshots, and their respective features is Window Managers for X.
In this chapter, the installation instructions of several Window Managers and one lightweight Desktop Environment are presented. Later in the book, both KDE and GNOME have their own sections.