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  Customize Your Linux Desktop
Linux Posted by Elmar Heeb on Saturday May 04, @02:29PM
from the feel-at-home dept.
People using Gnome, KDE, MacOS or Windows can find plenty of configuration options in various control panels. But how do you change settings with our default Linux desktop fvwm2?

Fvwm2 is fast, stable, and reliable. That is exactly the reason why we are supporting it as our recommended window manager. But while other desktop environments tend to provide more options than are healthy, fvwm2 seems to hide them.

The key to fvwm2's configuration is a file called .fvwm2rc in your home directory. Unless you create one, this file doesn't exist and a system wide configuration file /etc/X11/fvwm/system.fvwm2rc is used instead. The format and options for these files is documented in the manual page for fvwm2 (man fvwm2).

You can create your personal .fvwm2rc file using any ASCII text editor like, e.g., emacs, gedit, vi, etc. Since you probably don't want to start from scratch just to adjust some minor setting, you could start by copying the system.fvwm2rc file. However, this has two disadvantages. Firstly, this file is already quite big and you may get lost when you try to find an error in your configuration and, secondly, making a copy of the system file at some date you will not profit from updates and corrections to the system file that are added later. The convenient solution is always to read the current system.fvwm2rc file as the first thing in your own .fvwm2rc file. So the first line in your .fvwm2rc file should read:

Read "/etc/X11/fvwm/system.fvwm2rc"

Like this, future updates to the system file are nicely included in your configuration and your file remains resonably small.

Now you want to start adding your own options. Let us assume that you have a nice family picture that you want to have as the background of your desktop. Let us further assume this file is called family.jpeg and is stored in your home directory. You then add the following line to your .fvwm2rc file:

AddToFunc InitFunction "I" Exec xsetbg -fullscreen $HOME/family.jpeg

(Your browser may be wrapping around lines. For the configuration to work, everything from AddToFunc up to .jpeg should be on one line.)

When you next log in (or restart fvwm2) you will see the new background image. The documentation for AddToFunc (and InitFunction) you can find in man fvwm2 and xsetbg is a separate command with its own documentation (man xsetbg).

If you have some interesting suggestion for a personal .fvwm2rc file that you want to share with others feel free to add a comment to this article (choose Reply below).

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  • The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.
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    Re: Customize Your Linux Desktop
    by Daniel Schoenenberger on Monday May 06, @08:09AM
    here is my .fvwm2rc, feel free to copy and expand. dani
    [ Reply to this ]
    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.
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    © 2003 ISG, Departement Physik, ETH Zürich, <>