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Motif Window Manager

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Title: Motif Window Manager  
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Subject: X window manager, Cwm (window manager), Common Desktop Environment, Amiwm, Comparison of X window managers
Collection: Motif, X Window Managers
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Motif Window Manager

Motif Window Manager
MWM running on Debian GNU/Linux
Developer(s) The Open Group
Stable release 2.3.4 / October 23, 2012 (2012-10-23)
Operating system Unix-like
Type Window manager
License GNU LGPL
Website .com.icsmotif

In computing, the Motif Window Manager (MWM) is an X window manager based on the Motif toolkit.


  • Overview 1
  • Compliance 2
  • Origins 3
  • Licensing 4
  • Virtual Desktop 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Mwm is a lightweight, window manager having robust compliance and configuration of the features it has. Mwm first appeared on in the early-1980s, along with the Motif toolkit. Mwm supports: Common User Interface (i.e., Alt-Tab is switch windows, a standard), some International support, Common Desktop Environment, X Resource Database (/home/app-defaults/ and runtime), X Session Manager protocol (save yourself), X Edited Resource Protocol (edit widget data), desktop icons, optional use of images to decorate, and had supported Virtual desktop (removed since 2.1) but now supports non-virtual desktop panning. Mwm is a window manager, not a full desktop environment, so it only manages windows; it is expected that configuration, programs, sound, are provided by other programs. A plain text file is parsed to customize menus, user input mappings, management features, and user made functions of the same.


Many important (expensive) older applications expect a compliant window manager running and have glitches running under today's often "compliant with its own new standards" WM's. For example, Mathematica for X (built using Motif toolkit) expects the WM's x,y frame offsets to be correct; a detail surprisingly many new WM have lost in a race to extend GUI features of the WM itself.

All recent versions of Firefox since release 17 will maximize to four times the size of a single desktop. This has been verified on all recent versions of Debian and NetBSD. Given that there are no virtual desktops in Motif, this is likely due to a miscalculation of window sizes between Firefox versions 16 and 18.[1]


Motif and MWM were created by the Open Software Foundation (Motif was sometimes even called "OSF/Motif") but is nowadays owned by The Open Group.


Originally, MWM and Motif could only be purchased. The same software was also available as OpenMotif, though not on properly open source or free software terms. In late 2012, Motif and MWM were released under the LGPL as free software.

Virtual Desktop

Motif Window Manager showing Motif demo panner(1) which yields a virtually large desktop.

A panner slides a desktop (or just a window) on an infinite backdrop, which makes larger desktop

See also


  1. ^

External links

  • SourceForge: Motif (source code)
  • SourceForge: Motif 2.0 build (Data Display Debugger uses 2.0) with easier automake and optional panner
  • Open Motif project page
  • The Motif FAQ (Kenton Lee)
  • Motif: Volumes 6A and 6B (O'Reilly and Associates, free PDF downloads)
  • Motif User's Guide
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