olwm(1) OPEN LOOK window manager for OpenWindows


olwm [ options ]


olwm is a window manager for the X Window System that implements parts of the OPEN LOOK graphical user interface. It is the standard window manager for Sun's OpenWindows product, but it will work properly with any X11 system.


Most command-line options have counterparts in the resource database. A command-line option will override any setting from the resource database.

Use two-dimensional look. This is the default for monochrome systems.
Use three-dimensional look. This is the default for color systems. This option is ignored for monochrome systems.
-bd,  -bordercolor
Specifies the border color. See the description of the BorderColor resource.
-bg,  -background
Specifies the background color. See the description of the Background resource.
-c,  -click
Use click-to-focus mode. This is the default focus mode.
-depth depth
Specifies the depth of the visual in which olwm is to run. See the discussion in the Screen Resources section.
-display display-string
Specify the name of the display to manage. Overrides the DISPLAY environment variable, if any. In addition, the display string is exported to olwm's environment, so processes forked from olwm will inherit this value.
-f,  -follow
Use focus-follows-mouse mode. Default mode is click-to-focus.
-fn font-name,  -font  font-name
Set the font for window titles.
-fg,  -foreground
Specifies the foreground color. See the description of the ForegroundColor resource.
Manage windows on all screens that a display supports. This is the default.
-name resource-name
Use resource-name to look up resources in the resource database.
-xrm resource-string
Specify resources on the command-line. Resources specified here will override resources found in resource files.
Manage windows for a single screen only, using the default screen for the specified display. Overrides the -multi option.
-syncpid process-id
When olwm has completed its initialization, it will send a signal (SIGALRM by default) to process-id. The signal will be sent only if this option is present. This is useful for running olwm from shell scripts (such as .xinitrc) in such a way that the script waits for olwm to finish its initialization, while leaving olwm as a child process of the shell script. This can be done using the following sh(1) construct:

        sleep 15 & pid=$!
        olwm -syncpid $pid &
        wait $pid

-syncsignal signal
Specifies the signal to send instead of SIGALRM. The signal is specified as a number, not symbolically.
-visual visual-class
Specifies the class of the visual in which olwm is to run. See the discussion in the Screen Resources section.


The following options are strictly for debugging. They are not recommended for general use. Don't use them unless you know what you are doing.

Print a message for every event received.
Equivalent to turning on all debugging options.
Print orphaned events. Orphaned events are events that are associated with a window or frame that has no entry in the frame hash table, or events that are not handled by the various event handlers.
Run the window manager in synchronous mode.


-basiclocale locale-name
Specify the basic OPEN LOOK locale category setting. This category will be the base for other locale categories, therefore there are certain restrictions applied to other locale categories (see the following locale handling sections).
-displaylang locale-name
Specify the display language OPEN LOOK locale category. This category affects the contents of workspace menu, window menu and notice messages.
-numeric locale-name
Specify the numeric format OPEN LOOK locale category. This category affects the numeric format displayed in any message that contains numerics.


Locale is the language and cultural conventions used in the program. Locale will control the language-dependent part of olwm's behavior. The OPEN LOOK international extensions have defined several OPEN LOOK locale categories as follows:

Basic Locale
This is the basic setting for the entire locale mechanism. This category specifies internal character handling behavior.
Display Language
This category specifies the language used for displaying menus, notice messages and error messages.
Input Language
This category specifies the language used for text input. This category has no affect on olwm, because it does not accept text input from the keyboard.
Date Format
This category specifies the format of date and time. This category has no affect on olwm, because it does not display any date and time information.
Numeric Format
This category specifies the format of displayed numeric data.

Since the Basic Locale setting defines the character handling of olwm, certain restrictions have been placed on combining the locale category settings.

If basic setting is set to other than "C" locale, then all other locale categories must be the same as basic setting or "C".
If basic setting is set to "C" locale, then all other locale categories must be in "C" locale.

The following methods are available to inform olwm, the locale settings, and they are listed in order of priority:

Command line options (such as -basiclocale).
by resource database.
setlocale(3) function defaults (for example: LANG environment variable).

If command line options are not used to specify locale settings, olwm will pick up the new locale settings from workspace property (per changes to the resource database); and change the locale settings dynamically (for example, to change the language of workspace and window menus). All pinned workspace menus will be unpinned during this locale switching operation.


The input focus

is the window that will receive keystrokes. olwm has two different input focus modes, which are different ways of transferring the input focus from one window to another. By default, olwm uses "click-to-focus" (also known as "click-to-type") mode. This means that you must click on the window in order to get the focus to it. While a window has the input focus, the mouse can be anywhere on the screen; the keyboard events will still go to that window. You can set the input focus to a window and simultaneously raise it to the top by clicking the left mouse button in the window's title bar or border.

olwm has another focus mode called "focus-follows-mouse." In this mode, whatever window the mouse is pointing to will receive the input focus. To switch the input focus from one window to another, you simply move the mouse to the other window; you don't have to click at all. Note, however, that to transfer the focus amongst subwindows of a single top-level window, you must click in the subwindow, or you must use focus transfer function keys (if available from the application).

The input focus mode can be controlled with command-line options or by entries in the resource database. Neither focus mode has inherent advantages. Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference.


OPEN LOOK defines three mouse button functions: SELECT, ADJUST, and MENU. These functions are mapped to mouse buttons 1, 2, and 3, respectively. On systems with only two mouse buttons, the MENU function can be obtained by pressing buttons 1 and 2 simultaneously. This technique is referred to as mouse button chording. The exact behavior of each of these functions depends on what object is under the pointer.


Window Title Bar and Borders.

Clicking SELECT selects the window, raises it above other windows, and deselects any other objects. In click-focus mode, the focus is also transferred to this window. Pressing and holding SELECT and then dragging the mouse will move windows without raising them or setting the focus. If this window is selected, it and all other selected windows are moved simultaneously. Otherwise, just this window is moved, and it is not selected. If you hold down the Control key while you are moving a window, motion is constrained to be either vertical or horizontal, depending on whether you've moved farther in a vertical or horizontal direction. Double-clicking SELECT on the window is the same as selecting the Full Size (or Restore Size) menu item. Clicking ADJUST will toggle the selected state of this window. If other windows or icons are already selected, they remain selected. ADJUST is useful for selecting several windows and icons. Pressing MENU will bring up the window menu. See the Window Menu section for further details. If the Alt key is held down, the mouse button functions become accessible anywhere over the window, not just over the title bar and borders. The modifier used can be changed; see the description of the WMGrab resource in the section on Modifier Customization.

Resize Corners.

You can resize a window by pressing the left mouse button over any of the resize corners and dragging it to the new location. Releasing the mouse button will set the new size of the window. If you hold down the Control key while you are dragging, the resize operation is contrained to resize vertically or horizontally, depending on whether you've moved the mouse farther in the horizontal or vertical direction.

Window Button.

The Window Button is the small box with a downward-pointing triangle near the left end of the title bar. Pressing MENU over the window button will bring up the Window Menu. Clicking SELECT over the left mouse button on the Window Button will execute the window menu's default action. This will usually close the window into an icon. You can change the window menu's default action by holding down the Control key while manipulating the window menu.


OPEN LOOK pop-up windows have a pushpin instead of a window button. If the pushpin is out of its hole, pressing a command button within the window will cause the window to be taken down ("dismissed") after the command is executed. If you click SELECT on the pushpin, it will move into its hole. In this state, pressing a command button will execute the command without dismissing the window. Clicking SELECT over the pin will pull it out of the hold. This will dismiss the window without executing any commands. Some windows come up with the pin already in the hole.


An icon represents a closed window. You can still do most of the same operations as with an open window. Moving and selecting icons with SELECT and ADJUST is exactly the same as for open windows. A similar version of the Window Menu is available on an icon by pressing MENU. Double-clicking SELECT will open the icon. Icons cannot be resized.


The X11 Non-Rectangular Window Shape Extension (commonly referred to simply as the Shape extension) allows windows to have arbitrary shapes. Olwm will handle these windows by giving them no decoration whatsoever. Shaped windows can be manipulated by using the WMGrab modifier (Alt by default) with the mouse buttons. (See the section on Modifier Customization for further details.) Shaped windows can be moved, resized, closed, opened, etc. like ordinary windows. The selection feedback for shaped windows is the presence of resize corners floating at the corners of the bounding rectangle of the window's shape.


You can select a group of windows and icons by using the left or middle mouse buttons over the Workspace (the area of the screen outside of all windows and icons, commonly known as the "root window"). Pressing either SELECT or ADJUST and dragging the mouse will define a rubber-band rectangle. When you release the mouse button, the set of windows and icons enclosed by this rectangle will be operated on. If you created the rectangle using SELECT, the windows and icons within will be selected, and all other objects will be deselected. If you used ADJUST, the objects within will have their selected state toggled, and any other windows and icons already selected will remain selected.


Pressing MENU over the workspace brings up the Workspace Menu. This menu is customizable, but it typically contains at least the following items. (The items may appear in a different language depending on the current locale setting.)

This button has a sub-menu that allows you to invoke applications. The default Programs sub-menu contains all of the programs in the OpenWindows DeskSet. However, users typically customize this menu to contain many more programs and to contain nested submenus. See the section on Menu Customization for further information.
This button has a sub-menu that contains several utility functions for the workspace, including Refresh (redisplay all windows on the screen), Lock Screen, and Save Workspace.
This item brings up the Workspace Properties window, which allows you to view and customize settings of the OpenWindows environment.
Brings up the table of contents of the Help Handbooks.
Desktop Intro...
Brings up a tutorial introduction to the Sun Desktop.
Shuts down all applications and exits the window system. A confirmation notice is popped up first to give you a chance to cancel the operation.


The window menu of most windows has the following items. (The items may appear in a different language depending on the current locale setting.)

Close the window to an icon. Any OPEN LOOK pop-up windows are closed into this icon as well. They will reappear when the icon is opened. This item is "Open" if you bring up the menu on an icon.
Full Size
Expand the window to the full height of the screen. If this has already done, the button is Normal Size instead of Full Size. Normal Size restores the window to the size it was before you did the Full Size operation. If the application has specified a maximum size for the window, this size is used for Full Size instead of the full screen height.
Starts the keyboard-based form of moving the window. Appears only if OPEN LOOK Mouseless Mode is enabled.
Starts the keyboard-based form of resizing the window. Appears only if OPEN LOOK Mouseless Mode is enabled.
Move the window behind all other windows.
Clear and redisplay the window.
Kill the program running in the window and remove the window. If the application has elected to participate in the WM_DELETE_WINDOW protocol, olwm sends a WM_DELETE_WINDOW ClientMessage instead of killing that window.

OPEN LOOK pop-up windows (as opposed to base windows) have a smaller window menu. It lacks the Close, Full Size, and Quit items, but it has two new items:

Causes the window to be dismissed. This button has a submenu with two items: This Window, which dismisses just this window, and All Pop-ups, which dismisses all pop-up windows owned by this application.
Raises and flashes the title bar of the base window that "owns" this pop-up window.


You can customize olwm's Workspace Menu by putting a menu description into a file that olwm will read. When it starts up, olwm will first look for a file named by the OLWMMENU environment variable. If this variable does not exist, or if the file is not readable, olwm will then look in the file named ".openwin-menu" in your home directory. If this file is not present or is unreadable, olwm will fall back on the system default menu file. If, for some reason, the system default menu file cannot be found, olwm will use a minimal, built-in menu. The menu file that is read can also be modified by the display language locale setting. The locale name is used as a suffix for the filename. If a localized menu file is found, it is used in preference to the non-localized menu file. For example, if the display language local is "japanese", the file ".openwin-menu.japanese" will take precedence over the file ".openwin-menu".

Olwm will automatically re-read its menu file whenever the menu file changes. This lets you make many small changes to a menu file, trying out the modified menu after each change. The automatic re-reading can be controlled with the AutoReReadMenuFile resource.

If olwm encounters a syntax error during the reading of any menu file, a message is printed to the standard error, and the reading of this menu file is considered to have failed. Olwm will then attempt to read the next file in the sequence as described above.


The menu specification language has a number of keywords, all of which are in all upper case letters. The keywords are not translated into the language specified by the the locale category settings. Keywords are always in English.

Each line typically specifies one menu button. There are three fields on each line: a label, the optional keyword "DEFAULT", and a command. The label is either a single word or a string enclosed in double quotes. This is the label that appears in the menu button. If the optional keyword "DEFAULT" appears next, this menu item becomes the default item for this menu. The rest of the line (excluding leading whitespace) is considered to be a command. It is executed by sending it to sh(1). Any shell metacharacters will be passed through to the shell unchanged. A line containing only the keyword "SEPARATOR" will add extra space before the next item.

A sub-menu is specified using the special keyword "MENU" in place of a command. A button is added to the current menu, and clicking or pulling right on this button will bring up the sub-menu. Subsequent lines in the menu file define buttons for the sub-menu, until a line that has the special keyword "END" in the command field is encountered. The label of the MENU line must match the label on the END line, otherwise an error is signaled. Sub-menus can be nested arbitrarily, bracketed by MENU and END lines with matching labels. To make a sub-menu pinnable, add the special keyword "PIN" after the END keyword on the line that ends the sub-menu definition.

A sub-menu can be specified in a different file by putting the pathname of the file after the MENU keyword. In this case, the file so named is assumed to contain lines that specify menu buttons. The sub-menu file need not have any MENU or END lines (unless it has sub-menus itself). The current file need not have a matching END line if the sub-menu is read from another file.

By default, the label in a menu button is used as the title of the submenu. This can be overridden by specifying a line that has the special keyword TITLE in the command field. The label from this line will be used as the sub-menu's title. This line can appear anywhere in the sub-menu definition. It does not add an item to the menu.

The following keywords can be used in the command field of a menu item. They specify functions that are internal to olwm, that are not invoked by running a shell.

Move the selected windows and icons behind other windows.

Kills all applications and exits the window manager after getting confirmation from the user. This is useful for exiting the entire window system.
Like EXIT but skips the confirmation notice.
Toggle the state of the DragWindow resource.
Toggle the state of the SetInput resource.
Toggle the full-sized/normal-sized states of the selected windows and icons.

No operation; don't do anything.
Toggle the opened/closed states of the selected windows and icons.
Quit the selected windows and icons.
Open up a connection to NeWS using psh(1) and send the rest of the line to it.
Bring up Workspace Properties.
Refresh causes all windows on the screen to be repainted.
Force an immediate rereading of the workspace menu customization file. Olwm will start a complete search for a menu file (as described in the Menu Customization section) and use the first valid file it finds.
Restart the window manager by issuing an exec(2) on argv. This shouldn't affect any running applications, nor should it cause the server to shut down.

Take a snapshot of the set of currently running applications, and put the command lines so obtained into the file ".openwin-init" in the user's home directory. This runs the command
"owplaces -silent -multi -script -output $HOME/.openwin-init".
Exit the window manager without killing any applications.

Here is an example root menu specification.

"My Custom Menu" TITLE

Programs                 MENU
        "Command Tool"          DEFAULT cmdtool
        "Text Editor"           textedit
        Mail                    mailtool
        "File Manager"          filemgr
        Other                   MENU
                "Other Tools"           TITLE
                "Shell Tool"            shelltool
                "Icon Editor"           iconedit
                Clock                   clock
                "Perf Meter"            DEFAULT perfmeter
        Other                   END
Programs                END PIN

"Repaint Screen"        REFRESH

"Properties ..."        PROPERTIES

Exit            EXIT


Olwm will handle colormap installation for windows that have colormaps other than the default colormap. There are two colormap focus modes: "color-follows-mouse" and "color-locked". They are roughly analogous to the corresponding modes for input focus. However, colormap focus mode can be completely independent of input focus. The mode in which the system starts up is determined by the ColorFocusLocked resource (see the Resources section below).

Olwm keeps track of a set of windows that are eligible to have their colormaps installed. This set includes all top-level windows of clients. If any clients have specified other windows in a WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property, these windows are included in the set as well.

In color-follows-mouse mode, olwm keeps track of the location of the pointer and always keeps installed the colormap of the eligible window underneath the pointer. Thus, you can install the colormap of a particular window simply by sliding the pointer into it. The default colormap will be restored if you move the pointer back out into a window frame or into the workspace. In this mode, the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS properties are tracked for changes, but only to change the set of eligible windows. Changes to these properties only cause colormaps to be installed if the eligible window under the pointer has changed as a result of the set of eligible windows changing. In this mode, no window is considered to have the colormap focus; colormap installation entirely is under control of the user.

In color-locked mode, colormaps are not installed based on pointer motion. Instead, a particular window is considered to have the colormap focus. When a window has the colormap focus, colormaps will not be installed and uninstalled based on pointer motion. If a client program changes the contents of the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property on the top-level window with the colormap focus, olwm will respond by installing the colormap of the first window named in this property. In this way, the application whose window has the colormap focus can control colormap installation by altering the contents of the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property.

Note that, according to the ICCCM, if WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS does not include the top-level window, it is assumed to occur first in the list. If you want your program to request colormap installation via changes to WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS, you must make sure that the top-level window appears somewhere in this property. Otherwise, olwm will always install the colormap of the top-level window.

The colormap focus may be given to a window in one of several ways. The user can assign the colormap focus to a window by pressing the Color-Lock key while the pointer is over the window. If the AutoColorFocus resource is set, new windows will be given the colormap focus automatically. If the ColorTracksInputFocus resource is set, the colormap focus will always be given to the window that has the input focus.

In addition to setting the colormap focus, the Color-Lock key has some additional effects. When you press the Color-Lock key, if the pointer is within a subwindow named in the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property, that subwindow's colormap will be installed. If the pointer isn't within a window named in the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property, or if the pointer is over the window title bar or border, the colormap of the first entry of the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property will be installed. You can use the Color-Lock key to install the colormap of a particular subwindow no matter where it resides in the WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS list. If there is no WM_COLORMAP_WINDOWS property, pressing the Color-Lock key will simply install the colormap of the top-level window.

If you press the Color-Lock key over the workspace, the default colormap will be installed, and any window with the colormap focus will lose it. The root window will have the colormap focus.

At any time, you can revert to color-follows-mouse mode by pressing the Color-Unlock key. Any window with the colormap focus will lose it.


Olwm provides spot help for frames, icons, the Workspace and Window menus, window buttons, resize corners, pushpins, and the Workspace itself. This is done via a separate slave program, olwmslave(1). The slave program is forked automatically when olwm starts up. The forking of the slave program can be controlled by the RunSlaveProcess resource.


By default, olwm will manage windows on all screens of the display server. Most operations are unchanged from single screen operation. A window exists on a particular screen for its entire lifetime. The window cannot be moved from one screen to another, nor can it be resized to cross a screen boundary. Windows invoked from the Workspace menu will appear on the same screen as the menu. Spot help will appear on the same screen as the pointer when the Help key is pressed.

Previous releases required modifications to the user's .xinitrc script to start multiple instances of olwm, one for each screen. These modifications are no longer necessary. The default Xinitrc (which contains a single invocation of olwm) works for both single and multiple screen situations.


Global resources in olwm consist of two resource components. The first component in the resource name is taken from the trailing pathname component of argv[0]. This value is typically `olwm'. This name can be altered by using the -name command-line argument. The second resource component names the global attribute being set. It should be one of the names from the following list. Thus, to set the AutoColorFocus attribute, one would use "olwm.AutoColorFocus" as the resource specification.

Some resources are also interpreted by XView (see XView(7)) and are set by the Workspace Properties program (see props(1)). For these resources, olwm will also accept the string `OpenWindows' as the first resource component. These resources are marked with an asterisk `*'.

Colors can be specified using the formats parsed by the Xlib XParseColor() function. Common formats are color names (see showrgb(1)) and explicit red, green, and blue values in hexadecimal, preceded by a `#'. For example, a bright magenta would be specified with "#ff00ff".

Boolean values can be specified with the words "true", "false", "on", "off", "yes", "no", "1", "0", "t", and "nil".

AutoColorFocus (boolean)
Indicates whether newly appearing windows are to be given the colormap focus automatically. See the section on Colormap Installation for further details. Default value: false.

AutoInputFocus (boolean)
Indicates whether newly appearing windows are to be given the input focus automatically. Default value: false.

AutoRaise (boolean)
Raise windows automatically when they receive the focus. This is useful in click-to-focus if you always like to type into the topmost window. This is useful in focus-follow-mouse when the AutoRaiseDelay resource is set to a reasonable value. Default value: false.

AutoRaiseDelay (integer)
Amount of time to delay, in microseconds, between a window receiving the focus and raising it above other windows. Effective only when the value of the AutoRaise resource is true. Default value: 0.

AutoReReadMenuFile (boolean)
Specifies whether the menu file is to be re-read whenever it changes. Default value: true.

Background (color)
Specifies the background color. This is used for the background of masked icons. Note: it is not used for the backgrounds of icon windows such as those used by XView (see XView(7)). This resource is also distinct from the WindowColor resource. Default value: white.

BasicLocale (locale name)
Specifies the basic OPEN LOOK locale category setting. See the section on Locale Handling for more details.
Beep (enumeration) *
Specifies the circumstances under which olwm should beep. Permissible values are the strings "always", "never", and "notices". The string "never" means that olwm should never beep, "notices" means that olwm should beep only when a notice appears, and "always" means that olwm will beep whenever it is appropriate. Default value: always.

BorderColor (color)
Specifies the color used for window and icon borders. Default value: black.

ButtonFont (font name)
Font to be used for buttons in menus and notices. Default value: Lucida-Sans.

ClickMoveThreshold (integer)
This value is used when bringing up a menu. If the mouse moves more than this amount while the menu button is down, the menu is considered to be in press-drag-release mode. Otherwise, the menu is in click-move-click mode. Default value: 5.

ColorTracksInputFocus (boolean)
If true, indicates that the colormap focus is to be set automatically to any window that receives the input focus. See the section on Colormap Installation for further details. Default value: false.

ColorFocusLocked (boolean)
Specifies the initial state of the colormap focus policy. If true, the default colormap is locked into the hardware. If false, the colormap of the window under the mouse is kept installed. See the section on Colormap Installation for further details. Default value: false.

CursorFont (font name)
Specifies the font to be used for cursors. It is probably not useful to change this unless you have an alternate cursor font with the same encoding as the OPEN LOOK cursor font. Default value: -sun-open look cursor-*-*-*-*-*-120-*-*-*-*-*-*.
DefaultIconImage (filename)
Specifies a file containing a bitmap to be used as the default icon image.
DefaultIconMask (filename)
Specifies a file containing a bitmap to be used as the default icon mask.
DefaultTitle (string)
Specifies the string to be used in the title bar of windows that have not provided a string in the WM_NAME property. Default value: No Name.

DisplayLang (locale name)
Specifies the display language OPEN LOOK locale category. See the section on Locale Handling for more details.
DragRightDistance (integer) *
The number of pixels you must drag the mouse to the right in a menu item to bring up a submenu. The submenu always comes up when you move over the menu mark (the right-pointing triangle), regardless of the drag-right distance. Default value: 100.

DragThreshold (integer) *
This is the number of pixels the mouse must move while a mouse button is down in order to have the action be considered a drag. If the mouse moves fewer than this number of pixels while the button is down, it is considered to be click instead of a drag. Default value: 5.

DragWindow (boolean)
If true, drags the entire image of the window when you move it. Otherwise, just drags the window outline. Default value: false.

EdgeMoveThreshold (integer)
Specifies the amount of "hysteresis" provided when moving windows past the edge of the screen. When you move a window or an icon, it will pause when it touches the edge of the screen. This is to allow you to easily position windows right up against the edge of the screen. If you move farther, the window or icon will continue to move past the edge. You can prevent windows from ever lapping off the screen by setting an extremely large value (say, 10000) for this resource, and you can disable this feature entirely by specifying a value of zero. Default value: 10.

FlashCount (integer)
Number of times the title bar is flashed when the "Owners?" menu item is activated. Default value: 6.

FlashTime (integer)
Amount of time, in microseconds, for which the title bar is flashed when the "Owner?" menu item is activated. Default value: 100000.

FocusLenience (boolean)
If this is set to true, olwm will not enforce the ICCCM requirement that windows must have the input hint set in order to receive the input focus. This option is useful if you run clients that aren't ICCCM-compliant, like many X11R3-based clients. Default value: false.

Foreground (color)
Specifies the foreground color. This color is used mainly for the text of window and icon titles and in menus. Default value: black.

GlyphFont (font name)
Glyph font used for drawing OPEN LOOK graphics. Changing this font is mainly useful for changing its size. Specifying a different font, such as a text font, will result in undesirable behavior. Default value: -sun-open look glyph-*-*-*-*-*-120-*-*-*-*-*-*.

IconFlashCount (integer)
Number of times to flash the open/close "zoom" lines. Default value: 3.

IconFlashOffTime (integer)
Amount of time to pause while open/close "zoom" lines are not visible. Default value: 1.
IconFlashOnTime (integer)
Amount of time to pause while open/close "zoom" lines are visible. Default value: 20000.
IconFont (font name)
Font used for icon names. Default: Lucida-Sans.

IconLocation (enumeration) *
One of the words "top-lr", "top-rl", "bottom-lr", "bottom-rl", "left-tb", "left-bt", "right-tb", or "right-bt". These specify that icons should be arranged along a particular edge of the screen, ordered from left to right or top to bottom as appropriate. The words "top", "bottom", "left", and "right" are synonyms for "top-lr", "bottom-lr", "left-tb", and "right-tb", respectively. Default value: top.

InvertFocusHighlighting (boolean)
In click-to-focus, the input focus is normally indicated by a solid rectangle in the title bar. In focus-follows-mouse, focus is normally indicated with two lines in the title bar. If this resource is true, the style of highlighting is inverted with respect to the focus style. This results in two lines for click-to-focus and a solid bar for focus-follows-mouse. Default value: false.

KeepTransientsAbove (boolean)
Specifies whether olwm should attempt to keep transient windows above their owner window. Default value: true.

KeyboardCommands (enumeration) *
Permissible values for this resource are SunView1, Basic, and Full. Values are case-sensitive. In Full mode, all OPEN LOOK Mouseless commands implemented by the window manager are active. See the section on Key Binding for further information. In Basic mode, the keys active are Open, Front, Help, and the colormap keys. In SunView1 mode, the only keys active are Open and Front. Default value: Basic.

MinimalDecor (list of strings)
Specifies a list of windows that are to be decorated minimally. Decoration on such windows includes only a thin border and resize corners, with no title bar or window button. The value should be a whitespace-separated list of strings. Each string should specify an applications class or instance name, as passed in the WM_CLASS property. Most applications set this property based on the name of the executable (i.e. argv[0]). For example, to specify that the clock and the calculator should be decorated minimally, you would use the following resource:

        olwm.MinimalDecor: calctool clock

Many applications will allow you to override the value of the WM_CLASS property using the -name option on the command line. Default value: (null).

MouseChordTimeout (integer)
Specifies the amount of time, in milliseconds, that olwm is to wait for subsequent events to disambiguate chorded mouse button event sequences.
MultiClickTimeout (integer) *
The time, in tenths of a second, that differentiates a double-click from two single clicks. Default value: 5.

Numeric (locale name)
Specifies the numeric format OPEN LOOK locale category. See the section on Locale Handling for more details.
PaintWorkspace (boolean)
If true, olwm will use the WorkspaceColor resource to set the workspace (root window) background color. If false, olwm will not change the root window background. This is useful If you prefer to set your own workspace color using xsetroot(1) or a similar program. Default value: true.

PPositionCompat (boolean)
Turns on backward compatibility for older applications that have a habit of always setting the PPosition flag in the WM_NORMAL_HINTS property, even when they haven't set a position. This most often occurs with X11R3-based clients. Without backward compatibility, these windows will always appear in the upper-left corner of the screen. With backward compatibility, these windows will be positioned according to the default OPEN LOOK window placement policy, along the diagonal of the screen. This option will not affect windows that have a geometry specified on the command line. Default value: false.

PopupJumpCursor (boolean) *
Specifies whether to warp the cursor to popup windows. Default value: true.

RaiseOnActivate (boolean)
Specifies whether a window is to be raised when it is activated via a Mouseless command. Default value: true.

RefreshRecursively (boolean)
Determines how the Refresh menu items on the window and workspace menus operate. If the value is true, olwm will walk the window hierarchy and send exposure events to every window. This is useful for refreshing windows that have backing store. If the value is false, olwm will map a window and then unmap it, causing all windows underneath that do not have backing store get get exposures. When this feature is on, the Refresh operation generates a large amount of client-server traffic. It may be useful to turn this feature off if the connection transport has low bandwidth or long latency. Default value: true.

ReverseVideo (boolean)
If true, reverses the sense of black and white on monochrome screens. Ignored for color screens. Default value: false.

RubberBandThickness (integer)
Specifies the thickness of the "rubber-band" line that is drawn when a window is resized, when a group of windows is selected by dragging a rectangle on the root, and when a window is moved and the value of the DragWindow resource is false.
RunSlaveProcess (boolean)
If false, disables the running of olwmslave(1) at startup time. If the slave process is not running, Spot Help will not be available on objects owned by olwm such as pushpins and resize corners. Default value: true.

SaveWorkspaceTimeout (integer)
Number of seconds to wait while the Save Workspace operation is in progress. If all applications haven't responded with this amount of time, the operation is considered to have failed. Default value: 30.

SelectDisplaysMenu (boolean) *
If true, pressing the SELECT mouse button will bring up a menu item's submenu (if any) instead of executing the submenu's default action. Default value: false.

SelectionFuzz (integer)
Number of pixels of "fuzz" to be applied when selecting windows and icons by dragging a rectangle on the workspace. Consider an object that lies almost entirely within the selection rectangle, but that laps outside the rectangle by a few pixels. The object will be considered to be within the selection rectangle if it laps outside by fewer than or equal to "fuzz" pixels. Default value: 1.

SelectToggleStacking (boolean)
If true, double-clicking on a window will push it to the back instead of zooming it to its full size. Default value: false.

SelectWindows (boolean)
If false, the SELECT mouse button will not select windows and icons. Its other functions are unaffected. The ADJUST mouse button can still be used to select windows and icons. Default value: true.

ServerGrabs (boolean)
Controls whether olwm grabs the server while menus and notices are up. Default value: true.

SetInput (enumeration) *
This controls the input focus mode. If the value is "select", it means click-to-focus. If the value is "followmouse", it means focus-follows-mouse. Default value: select.

ShowMoveGeometry (boolean)
Indicates whether the geometry box should be shown while moving windows and icons. Default value: false.

ShowResizeGeometry (boolean)
Indicates whether the geometry box should be shown while resizing windows. Default value: false.

SnapToGrid (boolean)
Determines whether icons will snap to a grid when they are moved. Default value: false.

TextFont (font name)
Font used in the text of notices. Default: Lucida-Sans.
TitleFont (font name)
Font used in title bars atop windows and menus. Default: Lucida-Sans Bold.

TransientsSaveUnder (boolean)
Specifies whether the save-under attribute of transient windows is to be forced on. Default value: true.

TransientsTitled (boolean)
Specifies whether transient windows should have title bars. Normally, transient windows have a title bar and resize corners, but no window button or pushpin. Setting this resource to false will remove the title bar from transient windows. Default value: true.

Use3D (boolean)
Specifies whether to use 3D OPEN LOOK when possible. If false, 3D look is never used. If true, 3D is used unless the display hardware cannot support it. Default value: true.

Use3DFrames (boolean)
Specifies whether to use a 3D look for the frame borders. If true, the frames will be given a 3D look; otherwise, they have the same thick border as in 2D look. Some people prefer the look of 3D frames, but it is more difficult to distinguish selected from unselected windows with this option turned on. Default value: false.

Use3DResize (boolean)
Specifies whether the window resize corners are to be in the 2D or 3D look. Default value: false.

WindowColor (color) *
Specify the color of windows. This is the "BG1" color for 3D OPEN LOOK. It is used for the backgrounds of windows, menus, and notices. Other the 3D effect is achieved by using highlight and shadow colors derived from this color. Default value: #ccc.

This specifies a 20% gray value.

WorkspaceColor (color) *
Specify the color for the workspace (root window). On startup, olwm will set the root window's background color to the color specified by this resource, and it will restore the deafult background on shutdown. To turn off this behavior, see the description of the PaintWorkspace resource. Default value: #40a0c0.


In addition to the global resources described above, olwm also uses screen-specific resources. The first component of the resource specification is the trailing pathname component of argv[0]. The second component is the screen number appended to the string `screen'. The third component of the resource name is the name of the resource itself. For example,

        olwm.screen1.ReverseVideo: true

enables reverse video on screen number 1 for olwm. To affect all screens, you can use resource wildcarding. For example, `olwm*ReverseVideo: true' will set reverse video for all screens olwm manages.

The following resources are available both globally and on a per-screen basis. A screen-specific resource overrides the corresopnding global setting for that screen. Note that screen specific settings for WorkspaceColor and WindowColor will only affect olwm; this may cause clashes with XView clients which only use the global setting.

Background BorderColor Foreground ReverseVideo WindowColor WorkspaceColor

The following resources allow the selection of visuals other than the screen's default. Available visuals may be listed with the xdpyinfo(1) command.

Depth (integer)
Specify the visual depth to be used when searching for visuals. Default value: none.
Visual (enumeration)
Specify the visual class to be used when searching for visuals. Valid visual classes are StaticGray, GrayScale, StaticColor, PseudoColor, TrueColor, and DirectColor. Names are case-sensitive. Default value: none.
VisualID (id)
Specify the visual ID to be used. Note: specifying a visual by its ID is not portable, as IDs may vary from server to server and even from one invocation of a server to the next. Default value: none.


Olwm implements OPEN LOOK Mouseless operation. This is a set of functions bound to keys that enable one to use the window system entirely without a pointing device. Some Mouseless functions are also useful for "cross-over" users, who may want to use them as accelerators for mouse-based operations.

One can navigate from window to window using the Next Application, Previous Application, Next Window, and Previous Window functions, bound by default to Alt-n, Alt-Shift-n, Alt-w, and Alt-Shift-w, respectively. (See the section on Key Binding for more detailed information.) You can bring up both the window and the workspace menu using Alt-m and Alt-Shift-m, respectively. Once a menu is up, you can navigate through it by using the arrow keys or by pressing the first letter of the menu item you want to go to. You can execute the current item by pressing Return, or you can cancel the menu using Stop or Escape.

You can also move and resize windows use Mouseless functions. This can be accomplished by selecting the Move or Resize items on the window menu. (Keyboard acclerators for these items are Alt-F6 and Alt-F7, respectively.) In Move mode, you can use the arrow keys to move the window in the desired direction. You can also hold down the Control key to "jump" the window by a larger distance each time you press an arrow key. In Resize mode, the first arrow key selects the edge you are moving, and subsequent arrow keys move that edge. For example, to shrink a window from the right (that is, to move it right edge to the left) you would first enter resize mode using Alt-F7, press the right arrow key to select the right edge, and then press the left arrow key to move the edge to the left. As in move mode, you can hold down Control to "jump" the edge by a greater increment. You can press Return to accept the new size or location, and you can press Escape or Stop to abort the move or resize operation.


Key bindings are specified using resources. There is one resource per function, and the value of the resources are the keys to which the function is bound. The resource value consists of a comma-separated list of key specifications. Each key specification consists of a keysym optionally followed by modifier keysyms; the modifier keysyms are separated by `+' signs. For example, to bind a function to F2, control-F3, and alt-shift-F4, one would use the value:


Any keysym whose key is in the modifier mapping may be used as a modifier. The following can also be used as aliases for common modifier keysyms: Shift, Lock, Control, Ctrl, Ctl, Meta, Alt, Super, and Hyper.

Resource names are prefixed with the trailing pathname component of argv[0], followed by KeyboardCommand (note that this is singular, not to be confused with the KeyboardCommands resource), followed by a resource from the following list. For example, the resource specification for setting the Stop function would typically be:


Each item in this list is followed by its default keyboard binding and a description of what the function does. Items marked with an asterisk `*' involve keyboard grabs. Other items are active only while olwm is in a mode, such as when a menu is up. Note: most of the functions that require grabs are active only when the KeyboardCommands resource is set to Full. See the description of this resource in the section on Global Resources.

Stop (L1, Escape)
Abort the current mode or action.
DefaultAction (Return, Meta-Return, Enter)
Execute the default action for the current menu or notice.
Select (space)
Select the current button.
Adjust (Alt-Insert)
Toggle the selected state of the current object.
Menu (Alt-space)
Bring up a menu on the current object.
InputFocusHelp (?, Control-?)
Bring up Help on the object with the input focus.
Up (up-arrow)
Move up one item.
Down (down-arrow)
Move down one item.
Left (left-arrow)
Move left one item.
Right (right-arrow)
Move right one item.
JumpUp (Control up-arrow)
Move up ten items.
JumpDown (Control down-arrow)
Move down ten items.
JumpLeft (Control left-arrow)
Move left ten items.
JumpRight (Control right-arrow)
Move right ten items.
RowStart (Home, R7)
Move to the start of the current row.
RowEnd (End, R13)
Move to the end of the current row.
DataStart (Control-Home)
Move to the start of the data.
DataEnd (Control-End)
Move to the end of the data.
FirstControl (Control-[)
Move to the first item.
LastControl (Control-])
Move to the last item.
NextElement (Tab, Control-Tab)
Move to the next item.
PreviousElement (Shift-Tab, Control-Shift-Tab)
Move to the previous item.
Open (Alt-L7) *
Open the object with the input focus.
Help (Help) *
Bring up Spot Help on the object under the pointer.
LockColormap (Control-L2) *
Install the colormap of the subwindow under the pointer, and give the colormap focus to the top-level window containing the pointer. See Colormap Installation

for further details.

UnlockColormap (Control-L4) *
Revert to color-follows-mouse mode, and unset colormap focus. See Colormap Installation

for further details.

Front (Alt-L5) *
Bring the object with the input focus to the front.
FocusToPointer (Alt-Shift-j) *
Set the focus to the window under the pointer.
NextApp (Alt-n) *
Move the focus to the next base window. Windows are ordered clockwise starting at the top. Icons come after all windows, also in a clockwise fashion. Order proceeds from the last icon on a screen to the first window of the next screen. After the last screen, the order wraps back around to the first screen.
PreviousApp (Alt-Shift-n) *
Move the focus to the previous base window. See NextApp for details about the window traversal order.
ToggleInput (Alt-t) *
Move the input focus to the previous window that had the input focus.
NextWindow (Alt-w) *
Move to the next window in the family of windows consisting of a base window and a set of popups. Windows are ordered clockwise, starting at the top of the screen.
PreviousWindow (Alt-Shift-w) *
Move to the previous window in the family of windows consisting of a base window and a set of popups. Windows are ordered clockwise, starting at the top of the screen.
TogglePin (Meta-Insert) *
Toggle the state of the pin of the window with the input focus.
SuspendMouseless (Alt-z) *
Temporarily suspend all key grabs associated with Mouseless operation.
ResumeMouseless (Alt-Shift-z) *
Resume grabs after temporary suspension.
QuoteNextKey (Alt-q) *
Pass the next key sequence to the application with the focus, ignoring any grabs.
Refresh (Alt-F8) *
Repaint the window with the focus.
Back (Alt-F5) *
Move the focus window behind other windows.
OpenClose (Alt-F2) *
Toggle the open/clos state of the window with the focus.
FullRestore (Alt-F3) *
Toggle the full-sized/normal-sized state of the window with the focus.
Quit (Alt-F9) *
Quit the window with the focus.
Owner (Alt-F10) *
Flash the owner of the popup window with the focus.
WorkspaceMenu (Alt-Shift-m) *
Bring up the workspace menu.
WindowMenu (Alt-m) *
Bring up the window menu on the window with the focus.
Move (Alt-F6) *
Move the window with the focus.
Resize (Alt-F7) *
Resize the window with the focus.
OpenClosePointer (L7) *
Toggle the open/close state of the window or icon under the pointer.
RaiseLower (L5) *
Raise the window under the pointer if obscured by other windows. Otherwise, lower the window if it obscures other windows.


Olwm will alter the operation of certain mouse-based functions based on the state of the modifier keys. The relationship between the alteration and the associated modifier keys is controlled by a set of resources. Resource names are prefixed with the trailing pathname component of argv[0], followed by Modifier, followed by a resource from the list below. For example, the resource specification to bind the Reduce modifier would typically be


The value of each resource is a comma-separated list of modifier keysyms. Each item in this list is followed by its default modifier and a description of what it does.
Constrain (Control)
Constrain a move or resize operation to be only on a horizontal or vertical direction.
Ignore (Lock, NumLock, mod5, Mode_switch)
The set of modifiers to be ignored when processing mouse events. This resource should contain the set of locking modifiers, so that mouse actions are still interpreted properly even while locking modifiers are in effect.
Invert (Shift)
When moving windows, temporarily invert the sense of the DragWindow resource. When resizing a window, temporarily move the window as long as this modifier is held down. Return to resizing when the modifier is released.
Reduce (Meta)
When moving windows, reduce the amount of mouse motion by a factor of ten.
SetDefault (Control)
Sets the default item for a menu.
WMGrab (Alt)
Using the WMGrab modifier allows access to the mouse button functions anywhere over the window, not just over the window's title bar and border.


Specifies the X11 server to which to connect.
These variables specify which locale to use when other methods of locale announcement are not available. (See the section on Locale Handling for more details.)
Specifies a file to use for the Workspace Menu.


Contains the user-customized Workspace Menu specification.
Contains the default Workspace Menu specification.
Stores the command lines obtained during the Save Workspace operation.


OPEN LOOK is a trademark of AT&T.
The X Window system is a trademark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
OpenWindows is a trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc.


Rosenthal, David S.H. Inter-Client Communication Conventions Manual for X11. Copyright 1989 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This document is commonly known as the ICCCM. It is an X Consortium Standard that specifies conventions to which all X11 clients must adhere.

OPEN LOOK Graphical User Interface Functional Specification. Copyright 1989 by Sun Microsystems, Inc. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 0-201-52365-5.

OPEN LOOK Graphical User Interface International Extensions Functional Specification. Draft 1.1 (May 10, 1990). Copyright 1990 by Unix International.



The resource names do not follow any classing structure. There is no general way to specify resources on a per-client basis.

There is no way to reconfigure the mouse buttons. This makes it impossible to use olwm on a system that has a one-button mouse with no provision for simulating a second or third mouse button. (It is possible to use olwm with a two-button mouse. See the section on Mouse Buttons.)

The Exit menu item on the Workspace Menu doesn't really shut down the server. It kills off all clients being managed by the window manager, and then it exits the window manager itself. This works properly if some outside agent such as xinit(1) or xdm(1) is waiting for the window manager or a client to exit. The outside agent will take care of shutting down the server or reinitializing it. If you've started up the server a different way, this option may not work. Instead, the server will be left running with no clients and no window manager running, and you will have to login from elsewhere to kill the server. An alternative for users of X11/NeWS is to add the following entry to the root menu:

        Exit    POSTSCRIPT shutdownserver
This will shut down the server immediately, with no confirmation whatsoever.

Olwm is fairly simplistic about how it manages its keyboard bindings. For example, if you bind a function to control-F2, olwm will grab F2 with the Control modifier and with all combinations of the Lock and NumLock modifiers. If another locking modifier is in effect, olwm's passive grab will not be activated, and thus the function will not work.

Olwm cannot manage multiple locales at one time, therefore all clients should be running in the same locale. The "C" locale is the exception. Applications using the "C" locale (such as non-internationalized applications) can be mixed with applications using one other locale.

Olwm does not handle different sizes of the glyph fonts well. Each locale can define a different size for the default font (for example, the default glyph font size is 12 for the "C" locale and is 14 for the "japanese" locale). Olwm does not re-position the window decorations after switching locale, therefore the window decorations may appear to be wrong. To remedy this problem partially, olwm will not change the font when locale is switching from non-"C" locale to the "C" locale (fonts for non-"C" locales are always supersets of the font for "C" locale).

There is no input focus feedback for nonrectangular windows. The title string of nonrectangular windows cannot be displayed.

Olwm will not dynamically track screen-specific resources. Only changes to global resources are applied.

The interaction of the AutoColorFocus, ColorFocusLocked, and ColorTracksInputFocus resources and the color locking and unlocking keys is overly complex.