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Window managers on SL7

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See also How to try another a window manager and Setting a default window manager below.

Scientific Linux 7 ships with the following supported window managers :-

GNOME
Version 3.22 of the GNOME environment, and the default window manager on SL7. GNOME 3 is quite different to GNOME 2, the version on SL6. "Before GNOME 3, GNOME used the traditional desktop metaphor, but in GNOME 3 this was replaced with GNOME Shell, a more abstract metaphor where switching between different tasks and virtual workspaces takes place in a separate area called Overview." (Wikipedia). Note that GNOME 3 needs graphics capabilities which some slightly older computers cannot properly provide. On these computers the screen will flash and temporarily go blank when running GNOME 3. If this happens, switch to MATE. See Gnome hints and tips for more information.
GNOME Classic
GNOME, but with a slightly altered configuration.
KDE Plasma Workspace
We have version 4.10 of the KDE Plasma desktop. The KDE page on Wikipedia has more information.

We have added the following window managers. However, there is a risk that they may become unsupportable during the lifetime of Scientific Linux 7 :-

MATE
A fork of the GNOME 2 codebase; this may be a good choice for those who prefer GNOME 2, which was the default window manager in DICE SL6.
fvwm
Relive the 1990s.
wmii
A tiling window manager. "It supports stacking and tiling window management with extended keyboard, mouse, and filesystem based remote control. It replaces the workspace paradigm with a new tagging approach." (Wikipedia).

We can help with common issues but, as window managers can be configured in a wide variety of ways, it is not feasible for us to test and debug every possible setup. For complex setups, you are often better off asking on the inf-general mailing list or one of the internet forums.


How to try another window manager


If you'd like to change your default, see Setting a default window manager. This is how you can select one for a single login:

  1. Firstly, make sure that you are logged out of the SL7 DICE machine, and that you can see the login screen:
  2. Before making a choice, enter your username then press Tab. If you don't leave the username field, this won't work!
  3. Look at the top right corner of the screen:
  4. Click the icon shown to bring up the session choice menu:
  5. Choose your preferred window manager.
  6. Enter your password and press return.


Setting a default window manager


Setting the default window manager can only be done once you are logged in, as it uses preference files stored in your home directory.

How DICE Chooses your default window manager

The DICE session option attempts to start an environment using the following files from your home directory, in order:

  1. .xsession
  2. .dmrc.el7
  3. .dmrc

The contents of the ~/.dmrc.el7 file can be controlled using the switchdesk utility; see below for details of its use. We encourage you to use this unless you have special preferences.

If you would like to manage your own session, you may use a custom .xsession file. This won't change anything, but if you would like to do something different in SL6 and SL7 you might need to alter this script to behave differently depending on the operating system (which you could reasonably detect using for example /etc/redhat-release).

How to select a new default

We recommend that you use the DICE Desktop Selection tool, which can be found from any shell / command line as switchdesk or from your GNOME / MATE / KDE menus or application chooser (just search for "desktop" and you'll find it there). Wait for this window to come up, choose your preferred window manager, then click "Update":

Last reviewed: 
11/09/2017

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