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afterstep_faq: This document is an ever growing set of questions, statements, ideas and complaints about AfterStep version 2.0
afterstep_faq - This document is an ever growing set of questions,
statements, ideas and complaints about AfterStep version 2.0
1. GENERAL INFORMATION
1.1. About this Document.
This document is an ever growing set of questions, statements, ideas
and complaints about AfterStep version 2.0.
You can get this FAQ at the following locations:
The rest of this document assumes you are running AfterStep 2.0. If you
are running a version of AfterStep prior to version 2.0, this document
will suggests only one thing: upgrade.
1.2. What is AfterStep?
AfterStep is a Window Manager for the X Window System (hereafter
referred to as X). It was started to emulate the look and feel of
NeXTSTEP(tm), but has evolved into something that while still being
able to emulate NeXT, can do much much more. Without using much memory
or cpu time, AfterStep provides all the features one could want in a
1.3. What is AfterStep's history?
Original AfterStep was a continuation of the BowMan Window Manager
which was originally put together by Bo Yang. BowMan was based on the
fvwm Window Manager, written by Robert Nation. Fvwm was based on code
from twm. And so on....
Idea was to emulate some of the look and feel of the NEXTSTEP(tm) user
interface, but overtime it evolved to include other concepts, as
dictated by end user needs. It is that unholy direction that made
Alfredo Kojima abandon project in 1997 and create a Window Manger of
its own - Window Maker, which had a goal of strict adherance to
NEXTSTEP interface ideas.
After releasing version 1.8.11 it became aparent for developers that
old AfterStep codebase had reached its limits and required a
substantial redesign. Such redesign began with development of radically
new image handling library libAfterImage, introducing high quality
image manipulation, blending, TrueType fonts, XML image scripting, and
more. Building off of libAfterImage and incorporating new developments
in X Window management, AfterStep 2.0 was born and released in
September, 2004. As of now AfterStep code base contains none of the
original fvwm parts, and association to fvwm, twm and BowMan remain
only in history.
1.4. Fine, what if I'm not running AfterStep 2.0? Is there a FAQ for me?
Yes. There should be a version of the AfterStep FAQ available within
your specific AfterStep distribution. If you are using a version
earlier than 2.0, it is strongly suggested you upgrade.
1.5. What is X? What are these window managers ?
"X" is shorthand for The X Window System. It is a basis for building
graphical user interfaces for UNIX (it is available for non-UNIX
systems, but wasn't designed to be as such). "X" is not the interface
itself, just a foundation for one. For more information, check
A Window Manager is a program that manages your windows during your X
session. AfterStep is one of many available window managers .
1.6. What are AfterStep's main features?
Similar to NeXTSTEP's(tm) Dock, it allows applications to be
Swallowed, shortcuts with icons, and many other things.
Shows a miniature view of the Afterstep desktops, you can move
between them, and move windows around in the Pager as though it
were a miniature desktop.
A list of all the windows, clicking on the items can show that
window, destroy it, shade it, or anything you might want.
Almost anything can be changed.
XML image scripting
AfterStep allows XML scripts to be used to assemble complex
images for things like buttons, frame sides, etc, from other,
simplier images or graphical primitives.
TrueType fonts support
Antialised TrueType fonts could be used to render window titles
and other labels.
Unicode, UTF8 and other encodings support
Most international character encodings are supported as long as
fonts provide glyphs.
AfterStep can calculate a set of about 34 colors to create looks
with harmonious color composition.
1.7. Is AfterStep 2.0 GNOME and/or KDE compliant?
AfterStep 2.0 supports Extended Window Manager Hints, ICCCM protocol
and Motif hints, thus making it as compatible as possible with both
GNOME and KDE, as well as most other X applications.
1.8. Can I run it in Microsoft Windows(tm)?
AfterStep 2.0 does run under Windows using CYGWIN compatibility layer,
while running any X server. Some of the X servers available under
Windows allow so-called root-less mode, where X applications can
coincide with native applications. See sample screenshot .
1.9. Who develops AfterStep?
Sasha Vasko <sasha at aftercode.net>
coordinator, coder, web designer, carpenter, and everything else
( at the moment ).
Niklas Lunger <niklas at fet dot at>
documentation and user testing.
Nathan Mahon <as_ml at vaevictus net>
1.10. AfterStep is awesome! How can I help?
Code contributions are welcome. Hardware donations are welcome. If you
can help write AfterStep, or feel you can help the effort elsewhere, do
so. Hang out on irc (#afterstep, efnet), participate on the mailing
lists, suggest ideas, help code, etc etc.
1.11. Who writes this FAQ?
see 1.9. above.
2.1. Where can I find AfterStep resources, or help?
AfterStep 2.0 comes installed with complete set of documentation
in HTML format, usually installed at
/usr/share/afterstep/doc/html . Same documentation is available
online from : //www.afterstep.org/visualdoc.php . If you
find that documentation incomplete in some areas - please feel
free to submit any corrections to any of the AfterStep mailing
The official AfterStep web page is at //www.afterstep.org/
. This web site is managed by whoever has write access to
AfterStep CVS, and is kindly hosted by the generous people at
Web Conquest .
The FTP site, ftp://ftp.afterstep.org/ , is the best place to
The applets (asapps) that go with AfterStep are distributed
separately. The applet distribution is maintained by Albert
Dorofeev, (<firstname.lastname@example.org>). You can find the applets at
//www.tigr.net/afterstep/as-apps/ . RPMs for many an applet
could be found here : //www.afterstep.org/rpms/
AfterStep installation comes with set of man pages that attempt
to cover all aspects of AfterStep configuration. Please read the
relevent man page before asking a question. Also note that the
Pager man page is 'man Pager' (note the capitalization).
There is also #afterstep on freenode.net IRC servers. You can
view current activity here :
2.2. What are the AfterStep mailing lists, and where are their archives?
There are three AfterStep mailing lists. as-users, as-devel and
as-users is the general AfterStep mailing list, open to all
AfterStep questions, concerns and ideas ( NO LiteSTEP, Window
Maker, some-x-app questions unless it really does pertain to
AfterStep, please). Subscribe by entering your e-mail at :
as-devel is the development AfterStep mailing list. It is used
to send notices about commits to CVS repository. Subscribe by
entering your e-mail at :
as-bugs is the AfterStep mailing list for submiting bug reports.
It is geared toward development questions, ideas and complaints.
Subscribe by entering your e-mail at :
The mailing list archives can be read at
3. GETTING AND INSTALLING AFTERSTEP 2.0
3.1. Where can I get AfterStep 2.0?
You can download AfterStep 2.0 at any of the following locations:
ftp://ftp.afterstep.org/stable/ SourceForge.net RPM packages
3.2. What do I need to compile and install AfterStep?
Because AfterStep is an X application, you need to have X installed,
and the X development libraries (note, in this case "development" means
libraries need to compile things with X, not development level code).
It's probably a good idea to also have a working C compiler.
AfterStep includes some image libraries, but it is recommended that you
install those libraries using your distribution's package management
system. Note that you will need development libraries in addition to
run-time libraries. The following are the libraries that AfterStep can
take advantage of : libJPEG - support for JPEG image format
libPNG - support for PNG image format
libTIFF - support for TIFF image format
Freetype - support for TrueType fonts
Note that following image format do not require any external libraries
: XPM, PPM, BMP, ICO, XCF, GIF.
3.3. Can I install AfterStep without being root?
Yes, before compiling AfterStep, do this:
mkdir -p ~/man/man1
./configure --prefix ~/
Then follow the normal install directions, allowing you to
without being root.
3.4. How do I upgrade AfterStep from AfterStep version prior to 2.0.0?
Install AfterStep 2.0 and then run it. It will start with default
configuration that you may or maynot like. If you wish to try and reuse
your old configuration files, then copy them over from your old
~/GNUstep/Library/AfterStep/ directory and into ~/.afterstep/. Restart
AfterStep to make changes effective. If some of the features do not
work quite right - feel free to submit bug report along with your
It is recommended though that you start with default configuration and
try out all of the supplied looks and color schemes. Select whichever
is close to what you want and then modify it to your liking. These
approach will allow you to take advantage of many new features,
available in AfterStep 2.0.
3.4. How do I upgrade AfterStep from AfterStep version higher then 2.0.0?
Make sure that all configuration files that you ever changed are in
your home directory at ~/.afterstep/, as installing afterstep will
replace everything in global shared location
(/usr/local/share/afterstep). Install afterstep and run. You should not
have any trouble.
3.5. What's up with all these compile errors?
Most likely, you don't have the X devel package (should have come with
your operating system, if not, check //www.x.org/ ).
3.6. How the hell does one configure AfterStep?
Configuration files are usually either in /usr(/local)/share/afterstep
for system wide configuration and ~/.afterstep for personal settings.
Configuration is handled in multiple files: look file (in looks
subdirectory) for visual attributes, feel file (in feels subdirectory)
for the general behaviour; wharf, winlist, banner, pager, animate for
module specific configuration.
Just copy any file you want to modify over from
/usr(/local)/share/afterstep to ~/.afterstep to override system wide
defaults retaining subdirectory layout.