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NEWS FLASH: 24th June 2008
AnotherLevelUp has been in continued development, but alas I have omitted to update this web site for the past 5 years or so! :-( The latest (released) version of AnotherLevelUp, 071016, is available now.
AnotherLevelUp is a FVWM (FVWM2) window manager configuration package, heavily based on Red Hat's AnotherLevel (http://www.redhat.com). FVWM is a widely used efficient and reliable manager for X windows. Get fvwm from me here. Or, get it from the Fvwm home page.
AnotherLevelUp's main features are outlined here.
A preview of the shared themes is available here.
AnotherLevelUp is being developed by John Latham (firstname.lastname@example.org). and is updated regularly (usually...): download latest version from here (16th October 2007: release 1 of version 071016).
KEY NEW FEATURES in 071016: I can't remember what I've done over the past 5 years, until I go through the diff...
KEY NEW FEATURES in 020729: Compatability with fvwm2.4/5 (e.g. Red Hat 7.3), and use of DynamicPopupAction to provide dynamic menus where appropriate. Rearrangement of some menus, and introduction of some others, such as feel setttings and desktop utilities. Directory browser for starting a new xterm. Key speed and bell pitch components.
KEY NEW FEATURES in 011015: Component reload to avoid need for restart when configuring components, more things are components, can start a big clock from the small one.
KEY NEW FEATURES in 010101: Random theme selection at start up, improved componentisation.
KEY NEW FEATURES in 001031: Red Hat 7.0 ready, and monitoring of error output file.
FVWM2 is extremely flexible and configurable, but the traditional approach is for each user to write their own $HOME/.fvwm2rc file. This is time consuming and involves the user wading though the lengthy FVWM2 man page. In an attempt to make X windows (and particularly FVWM2) more accessible to the `casual' user, Red Hat's AnotherLevel (itself based on a package called TheNextLevel) moved towards the user being able to configure some behaviour at run time. However the flexibility achieved was limited and not persistent (i.e. the settings reverted back to the default values at next login).
AnotherLevelUp takes this idea much further, offering more flexibility in configuration, and also persistence of user choice. The process is ongoing, but the package is now very flexible and stable. It has been used since September 1998 as the default desktop environment for Linux in the undergraduate laboratories of the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester. At the time, the School (at that time actually called a Department) opted for Red Hat 5.1 and AnotherLevel was the default desktop. GNOME/Enlightenment and KDE were (rightly or wrongly) not considered stable enough, but the author found AnotherLevel a less than encouraging `introduction' to Linux for students who were used to the `luxuries' of Windows 9X. And so AnotherLevelUp was born.
Nowadays, the students are given the trivial to make choice between AnotherLevelUp, GNOME/Enlightenment, KDE, AfterStep and WindowMaker (using an in-house `switchdesk' at log on: see here). The majority stick with AnotherLevelUp.
Arguably, AnotherLevelUp is a choice worth considering for the casual user who finds GNOME and KDE a little bloated, and yet wants a fast, lightweight, flexible, intuitive and attractive desktop environment; with minimal investment of effort. Existing FVWM2 fans may well find it interesting to play with, even if they prefer to return to their own hand-crafted configurations.
AnotherLevelUp is available under the GPL: you can download it from here.
It is really written for Red Hat Linux and thus any clone of Red Hat and also Fedora, but it should work on most FVWM2 installations. It has been tested on RH5.1 to RH9, and Fedora up to Core 7. I expect it would work okay on most Linux distributions. Anyone trying it on other platforms, particularly non GNU based, should be a little cynical, and I'd be interested in the results! (E.g. if find does not support -printf or /bin/bash does not exist then, err....)
It can be used at most display resolutions, but works best at 1152x864 or higher. You can use it `straight out of the box', but it works `even better' if you have certain other programs installed: see here for a list.
Please feel free to use it or experiment with it, and pass comments and suggestions for improvements to John Latham (email@example.com).
As usual, there is absolutely no warranty of any kind at all. Trying AnotherLevelUp is very unlikely to cause you (or your computer!) any major harm, but nobody can guarantee that it won't! :-)
Installation is easy (at least on Red Hat or Fedora). You can install it as an RPM (erase AnotherLevel first if installed) or, using the compressed tar archive version, you can install the package wherever you like, and simply make your dot files point at it.
Full installation details are here.
One of the most attractive features of AnotherLevelUp is the ability to create and store sets of preferences (or themes) quickly and easily, by using only interactive menus and forms. Additionally, there are nearly 60 ready made shared themes which can be chosen from the preferences menu. Preferences can be loaded without logging out (although, currently, the colours of xterms which are already running when you change themes, remain unchanged: only new ones get the new colours).
A preview of AnotherLevelUp's shared themes can be seen here.
AnotherLevelUp's main features are outlined here.
AnotherLevelUp is an on-going development, and while it is already quite useful and usable, it is far from complete. A brief list of planned future enhancements can be found here.
For those interested in FVWM2 configuration technology, the architecture of AnotherLevelUp will be briefly presented here.
AnotherLevelUp is at the stage when many of the typical configurations users wish to make can be achieved through the provided menus. However, AnotherLevelUp is still under development, and in any case, there are likely to always be some configurations not covered by this. The adventurous user can learn how to achieve some of these configurations here.
Prior to Red Hat 7.0, there is a bug in FvwmTaskBar which causes fvwm2 to immediately crash when a window operation is invoked via the task bar start menu. This has been around for some time, and has affected Red Hat's AnotherLevel package as well as AnotherLevelUp, and probably many people's configurations. Currently, the start menu button in AnotherLevelUp is enabled. If you are running Red Hat 6 or less, and wish to avoid this horror, then you can 1) avoid using window operations from the start button, 2) disable the start button, or 3) download a fixed version of fvwm2 -- see below.
If you want to disable the start button, then in the file AnotherLevel[Up]/fvwm2rc.defines.m4 comment the line define(`ENABLETASKBARSTARTMENU') (i.e. just add a # at the start).
Download a fixed fvwm2: I have fixed the FvwmTaskBar bug, and this patch has been adopted by Red Hat in 7.0. Meanwhile, you can obtain a fixed rpm for fvwm2 for Red Hat 6 from here.