[Default look]

This is the look of FVWM-Crystal desktop after first startup. On top of the screen you can see a panel with available applications, pager, panel for minimized windows and systray (notification area) called "trayer". Panels on the bottom show currently visible windows. Right-click on the desktop will open new terminal window.

[Wallpapers menu]

Because many elements on the desktop are transparent, wallpaper is very important. Crystal provides a menu from where you can select a wallpaper, either directly or randomly, from many places in your system. You can see also typical window deocration with "Close" buttons on both ends of the titlebar - click on one of them with RMB, and window will minimize.

[Preferences menu]

With a little effort you can imitate different desktop environments, for example MS Windows. That way FVWM-Crystal can be easily used by both new and advanced Linux users. You can see here built-in MPD playlist editor and Crystal's Preferences menu which allows you to modifiy basic settings of your desktop. For visual quality, Crystal uses icons from Tango Desktop Project in the menus and application categories.

[Amiga OS like workbench] [Amiga OS like workbench with menu]

Another environment you can simulate is the Amiga workbench. The first screenshot show a classical Amiga like top bar, FVWM-Crystal desktop manager (icons on the desktop), a minimized terminal and worker, a directory opus clone. The second screenshot show the same, but with the alternativa Amiga like top bar and its menu.


Crystal has specially configured terminal called "Quake Console". You can show or hide it by pressing Alt+` (grave). It's accessible on all desktops and can be resized, if neccessary. This "desktop recipe" is called Dock and resembles the look & feel of MacOS X Dock or XFCE panel. You can see here thumbnails of minimized windows, they are enabled in some of the recipes.

[Music support]

You can control various music players using built-in music control functions - dedicated menu, panel buttons and keybindings. Currently supported players are: alsaplayer, audacious, cdcd, cmus, MOCP, MPD, MPlayer, MPlayer2, Quod Libet and XMMS2, with different level of support depending on the commands available in the player. You can also select your preferred audio mixer - currently you can choose betweeen built-in control in your music player, and amixer (alsamixer) or aumix mixers.

[Nested session support]

Nested sessions showing XFCE4 nested in several nested FVWM-Crystal. This is handy if you want to try another WM/DE, or if you want to try the software you are working on in another WM/DE. Xephyr must be installed to use it.

[Full screen application with Amiga OS like top menu bar]

With any recipe, almost any application can be bring in full screen with Alt+Numpad_Multiply, and you can navigate between the full-screened applications of the current desktop page and this desktop page with Alt+shift+Keypad_Multiply. With the Amiga recipe, you can swith the recipe top bar in front of the full screened applications with a middle click on the screen border. It will replace, or not, the application menu.

[The Amiga recipe showing the font selector and 2 tears off menus]

The Amiga recipe togueter with Thunar partition icons, Fvwm-Crystal font selector and 2 tears off menus. The icons on the left are created by Fvwm-Crystal when Thunar is installed and selected as default desktop manager. A simple click on them will launch Thunar at the chosen partition. Any menu can be bring onto the desktop with the Backspace key. The used fonts can be choosen with the help of the Font Selector, which incluse GetText and UTF-8 support. It will let you customize the example string, save it for later use, and reset it to the default string. Of course, it will show the selected font.


The TapRight repice on a 4/3 screen. This recipe is best suited for modern wide screens. The TapLeft is the same recipe but with the decorations on the left side. We can see a brief overview of the MPlayer control menu and some full-screened applications switching.

User screenshots

[NEMO's desktop]

NEMO has added GNOME menu to the Crystal's main menu, changed the icon theme from Tango to GNOME default, and created simple calendar (top right corner) with capabilities of taking and tracking TODO notes and fetching selected daily comic strips. He also modified gnome-panel to look&feel like FVWM-Crystal's panel and made some cosmetic changes to Defalut recipe.

User videos

Gutemberg Jr use the ROX-Filer as the default file manager, transparent terminals, conky, gdeskcal and some custom shortcuts. The original video is on You Tube.

Desktop manager

New in FVWM-Crystal 3.2.0. This new desktop manager is native to FVWM-Crystal. It can be enabled on the fly from the main preferences menu and have its own preference system. More than 10 files managers are supported by default and custom commands can be set to associate any other program with these icons. 2 different commands or files managers are supported at the same time. The user can also set, independently of each other, if the XDG user directories and the mounted partitions will be shown. The contextual menu will show the associated path. The icons are 2 pictures icons from Kenneth Lester.

[Desktop manager]

Starting with FVWM-Crystal 3.2.4, the contextual menus provide items for mounting/unmounting the partitions.

Window decorations

There are currently 17 different window decorations, and several of them have different color versions. Some of the decorations were taken from Gnome themes, others are made from scratch.

[Window decorations]

Window button models

Apart from choosing window decoration, you can choose how buttons on the window's titlebar are placed and what functions they have. There are 6 different "window button models" to pick from, modeled after well known desktop environments: Amiga OS, MS Windows, MacOS X, OS/2, NeXTStep, and "native" FVWM-Crystal. Below you can see an example shown with "Clearlooks" window decoration.

button models]