Motif Window Manager

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Motif Window Manager
Debian Motif MWM Default.png
MWM running on Debian GNU/Linux
Developer(s)The Open Group
Stable release
2.3.8 / December 5, 2017; 13 months ago (2017-12-05)
Operating systemUnix-like
TypeWindow manager

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


MWM is a lightweight window manager, having robust compliance and configuration of the features it has. MWM first appeared on in the early-1990s, 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, 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[clarification needed] 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.[citation needed]

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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ "Bug 851930 - Firefox doesn't maximize properly". March 17, 2013.

External links[edit]