How to install and configure AfterStep window manager on Ubuntu

A dark Linux Ubuntu desktop showing icons

Image: Jack Wallen

In a latest post on neat matters you can do with the Linux desktop that you can’t do with MacOS or Home windows, I talked about a number of of the lots of Linux desktops I have employed in excess of the many years. 1 of people desktops (in fact, a window supervisor) was instrumental in helping me to comprehend just how great Linux is. 

Now, in advance of I carry on with this, you should know that growth on the AfterStep window supervisor ended some time ago. That usually means it receives zero updates at this point. Even so, it is really nonetheless installable on Ubuntu Linux and features particularly as it did again in the late ’90s when I first started off utilizing it.

Why would you want to even attempt a desktop that is outdated and no extended in development? 1st off, just to see how awesome the desktop can be. But a next advantage could be that if ample people today tumble in adore with this desktop (as I did so extensive back), maybe some developer or team will fork it and give this outstanding window manager a new everyday living.

Also: The major 5 Linux distros for programming

Both way, putting in AfterStep is so effortless that it really is worthy of getting a glimpse into what aided make the Linux desktop so exceptional. AfterStep is about as unique a desktop as you’ve ever professional, it can be very configurable, and it is (incredibly more than enough) relatively efficient and lightweight.

How to set up and configure AfterStep

Allow me demonstrate you how to get AfterStep put in on Ubuntu Linux and what helps make it so exclusive (at the very least to me).


To get AfterStep up and operating, you can want an instance of Ubuntu Desktop (launch quantity would not make any difference). You are going to also have to have a user with Sudo privileges. And that’s everything. Let’s add this awesome desktop to your program.

The 1st factor to do is log in to your Ubuntu instance and open up a terminal window.  

With the terminal open up, you can then run the set up command:

sudo apt-get put in afterstep -y

The above command will set up quite a several dependencies but won’t choose up as well a great deal area on your local generate (as I claimed, AfterStep is relatively light-weight).

When AfterStep is mounted, log out of your desktop, select AfterStep from your login menu (how that performs will depend on which login manager you use), and log again in. What you are going to come across is a fascinating desktop (Determine 1), prepared to make computing pleasurable all over again.

The dark blue AfterStep desktop with minimal icons.

Determine 1: The AfterStep desktop in all its old-university glory.

Picture: Jack Wallen

Here is what you require to know to get up and operate with AfterStep simply. If you click on anyplace on the desktop, the principal menu will appear (Determine 2), where you can open up applications, research for files, empower modules, open up several configurations, and carry out other responsibilities.

The AfterStep desktop menu.

Determine 2: The AfterStep desktop menu in motion.

Graphic: Jack Wallen

This is a listing of the other desktop products:

  • Prime — a tabbed bar that lets you to bring opened apps into target.
  • Top rated remaining corner — the Wharf allows you to open up distinct applications.
  • Top ideal corner — the Pager makes it possible for you to pick a workspace to use.
  • Base appropriate — folders where you can include distinct entries.
  • Bottom remaining — minimized purposes.

Configuration solutions

This is exactly where AfterStep does get a bit difficult. Each and every configuration selection is taken care of by means of a text file, which means there isn’t really a GUI application to configure everything. The file that properties the configuration selections is /usr/share/afterstep/databases and retains entries that seem some thing like this:

Model "*" Icon interface.xpm
Type "Not known" Icon Unfamiliar.xpm
Model "Untitled*" Icon AfterStep3.xpm
Type "Wharf" NoTitle, Sticky, StaysOnTop, WindowListSkip, NoHandles, AvoidCover
Style "Zharf" NoTitle, Sticky, StaysOnTop, WindowListSkip, NoHandles, AvoidCover
Design and style "Banner" NoTitle, Sticky, StaysOnTop, WindowListSkip, NoHandles
Design "*Pager" NoTitle, Sticky, StaysOnTop, WindowListSkip, NoHandles, AvoidCover
Fashion "WinList" NoTitle, Sticky, StaysOnTop, WindowListSkip, NoHandles, AvoidCover
Style "*clock" StaysOnTop, WindowListSkip, NoHandles

The file is actually very long, so you can expect to want to expend some time familiarizing you with the format. I’m going to demonstrate you 1 of my favourite configuration options from back again in the day.

To open the configuration file for enhancing, problem the command:

sudo nano /usr/share/afterstep/database

What I am likely to exhibit you is how to go window title bars from the prime to the remaining edge. It truly is a easy trick but just one that can make the desktop all the far more special.

In the configuration file, find the line that appears to be like this:

# This report is for the AfterStep menu :

Previously mentioned that line, increase the subsequent:

Help you save and shut the file. 

Open the desktop menu and click Rapid > Restart Window Manager. After AfterStep restarts, you must see that the title bars for all windows are now on the left edge (Determine 3).

An example of AfterStep left sidebars.

Figure 3: The still left-facet title bar configuration is a format that’s distinctive to AfterStep.

Picture: Jack Wallen

A cool thing about the AfterStep title bars

Just one of my favorite points about the AfterStep title bars is that they make it possible for you to shade windows, which usually means the windows by themselves will roll up so all that you only see the title bar. To shade a window, click on the __ around the correct stop of the title bar (or the leading, if you’ve moved your title bars to the still left edge). The moment you have shaded a window, you can unshade it by clicking the __ icon once again. With your windows shaded, you can very easily see what is actually open and preserve display screen actual estate (Determine 4).

AfterStep showing shaded windows.

Determine 4: Left-aspect title bars and shaded windows make for a neat desktop.

Picture: Jack Wallen

And which is your introduction to just one of my favourite previous-faculty Linux window managers. Get AfterStep installed and invest some time customizing it so you can clearly show off a killer desktop to your mates, coworkers, and relatives.

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