- Fvwm was created by Robert Nation as a fork of TWM and the first version 0.5 was bundled with Rxvt and released June 1st, 1993. This version was maintained until Fvwm-0.91.
- In the fall of 1993 Fvwm became an independent package and Fvwm-1.0 was released. This branch ended with the final release of Fvwm-1.24r.
- In 1995 development of Fvwm2 was started and about that time Charles (Chuck) Hines took over and maintained Fvwm2 during the 2.0.x pre-release.
- Fvwm switches to a version system that 2.even are stable releases while 2.odd are development releases. Starting with the development version 2.1.beta, Fvwm uses CVS to track the releases, and all releases from Fvwm 2.1.beta onward can be seen in the Fvwm2 release history.
- Between spring and fall 1998 Charles Hines passes maintenance of Fvwm to Brady Montz who then passes it to Dominik Vogt.
- Dominik Vogt transitions Fvwm from a single maintainer to a community model, and through a group of Fvwm-workers releases Fvwm 2.2.x in February of 1999. With the release of 2.2.x, the development version 2.3.x starts.
- At this time the list of Fvwm authors gets quite large and there is no longer a single maintainer. From this point onward the Fvwm-workers community has continued to support and develop Fvwm.
- On February 25, 2001, Version 2.2.5 is released. This is the last version of Fvwm with its original license before it switched to GPL-2 in version 2.4.x. Due to this license change, OpenBSD still ships 2.2.5 in its base operating system to keep Fvwm with its original license.
- Version 2.4.x is released July 3, 2001 and the new development branch 2.5.x is started. This releases changes the license to GPL-2. The final release of this branch is 2.4.20 on December 9th, 2006.
- Development of Fvwm slows to a crawl but the development branch 2.5.x slowly gets bug fixes and new features. Eventually this branch gets turned into the next stable release.
- On August 15, 2011, version 2.6.x is released. During this release the development branch is deprecated and no longer used. Fvwm development slows to mostly bug fixes, but a few features are added to 2.6.x.
- In March 2016 Fvwm moves from CVS to GitHub, where the sources currently live.
- In early 2017 Fvwm 2.6.x version freezes and is put in maintenance only development. Fvwm3 is created as a fork of Fvwm2 for any future development with the intent to break compatibility with Fvwm2 to allow major changes.
- In 2019 Thomas Adam has started work on Fvwm 3.x, the next major Fvwm version, which is currently in the alpha stage.
Here is a conversation that took place around 2005 about the history of Fvwm.
The conversation is between various authors of Fvwm including Dominik Vogt
Charles (Chuck) Hines (
CH), and Robert Nation
DV> ((Chuck, are you still lurking? Can you fill in the gaps before 1998?))
CH> I am still lurking, yes, but not sure how much I can fill in as my memory is CH> getting a little fuzzy in my old age...I'll see what I can do... :) CH> I apologize for leaving all of the cited text in here. I normally would trim CH> out most of it but for filling in a history it seemed appropriate to leave it CH> in.
DV> Robert Nation started it back in 1993. The first time anything DV> was heard about it in public was on the 1st of June in 1993, when DV> Rob bundled a development version (0.5.something) with an rxvt DV> release (a still popular terminal program). In the next few DV> months, fvwm became an independent package and fvwm-1.0 was DV> released in fall, still 1993. Originally, the "F" in fvwm stood DV> for "feeble". But then, Rob seems to have forgotten this at some DV> point in time and thus the famouse FAQ question 1.1 was born. But DV> although there is strong evidence on the meaning of the "F" in old DV> new group archives, we nowadays prefer the "mysterious F" DV> interpretation ;-)
CH> I never agreed with "feeble" myself, even early on. That was one of the CH> reasons I came up with that list in the FAQ, to provide alternate CH> possibilities, hopefully mostly positive. Many of them were suggested in CH> emails on the mailing list, if I remember correctly. Of course, I added the CH> explicitives to that list because they were what I most often used while CH> trying to figure out bugs. :)
RN> There were two or three reasons for starting FVWM and RXVT. First, I had RN> a need 33 MHZ 486 laptop PC with only 4 MB of RAM, and I thought linux and X11 were RN> way better than the windows versions of the day. X11 with TWM and xterm would run on RN> my PC, but just barely. Second, I had a need at work to analyze spectrograms which RN> were about 4000 x 200 pixels when displayed at full resolution (analyzing acoustic RN> signatures for the DOD) - twm couldn't display RN> that, although some other window managers could (they used more memory though!). Finally, RN> I thought it would be nice to learn a few GUI software skills. RN> I think I did rxvt first. The source code fro xterm was pretty hard to understand, RN> so I found xvt on the net somewhere. I cleaned it up a bit and improved its vt-100 RN> compatibility in a few areas. Next, I tore apart twm to find out why it was so big, and RN> generated a very simple, low memory, low-flexibility version of a window manager. I added RN> the virtual desktop stuff and started using it at work too, since it could display my RN> spectrograms very nicely. RN> After I put the these things on the net, it was fun and educational for a while, as RN> the programs became more capable. But as my kids got a little older and needed more RN> attention from me), and the maintenance function got to be mostly integrating patches RN> from various people (and the patches had little or no utility to me), the fun went RN> away, and Chuck Hines stepped up to take over.
DV> I know litte about what happened between 1993 and 1996. Rob DV> stopped maintaining fvwm and Charles Hines took over the project DV> for several years(?). When Chuck resigned, Brady Montz became DV> the new maintainer for a couple of months, I believe in late 1997 DV> or early 1998. Anyway, it took almost 8 month between the 2.0.45 DV> release (22nd of January, 1997) and 2.0.46 (20th of August, 1997). DV> I can only guess why, but probably this was a foresign of Chuck's DV> approaching retirement. At this time I had been using fvwm-2.0.x DV> for about two years at home and wanted to implement some of the DV> features I liked in CDE to fvwm. In December 1997 I sent Brady my DV> patches and never got an answer. I tried again half a year later, DV> and contacted the mailing list, but fvwm development was as dead DV> as it could be.
CH> I believe that I maintained fvwm from Aug 95 through May of 98. CH> I had been using it actively from an early point (probably right around the CH> 1.0 version, but I can't be sure, I have some saved emails about fvwm from CH> early in 1994 and I know I had been using it for a while before then). I was CH> working at IBM and the machines we had at the time while fairly powerful were CH> still brought to their virtual knees by mwm, so I believe I searched USENET CH> (comp.windows.x.apps) for a good replacement. Found fvwm and never looked CH> back... :) CH> I kept a close eye on fvwm after discovering it (I believe there was a mailing CH> list at "email@example.com", and stuff on comp.windows.x.apps of course). I CH> contributed a couple of minor patches to fvwm in those earlier days, like to CH> get it to compile nicely under AIX and some stuff with colormap behavior (I'm CH> so happy to not have an 8bit display any more). By the way, if anyone has (or CH> can track down) any archives of that earlier mailing list, it'd probably be CH> pretty cool to resurrect them... CH> CH> Then one day Rob had sent out a message (on the mailing list, I believe) that CH> stated something to the effect that he didn't want to work on fvwm any more, CH> and was looking for someone else to maintain it. I wanted to offer to take it CH> over (as an X11 learning experience - I had dealt with X at the toolkits level CH> but was curious about the more low level stuff) but didn't feel I had the time CH> to properly devote to it so I didn't say anything at first. CH> CH> Then after about 2 weeks of watching people say "I'd love to, but I can't CH> program" I figured I'd better make that offer after all, qualifying it with CH> something like "I don't know if I have time to do this right, but I'm willing CH> to make an attempt". Rob remembered my previous contributions and figured I'd CH> be able to make a go at it, so he turned it over to me. That was version CH> "pre-2.0-patchlevel-33" if I remember correctly. CH> CH> Then I worked on it sporadically over the next couple of years. At first I CH> wasn't too bad about getting releases out, but the length of time between each CH> one got longer as "real life" invaded. Another part of the problem was CH> because I did use it as a learning experience, I would often rewrite patches CH> that were submitted to me so I really understood what was happening and with CH> an eye towards making things "easier" in the future (which I'm sure pissed off CH> a couple of people, but at the time I thought I had good reasons for doing CH> things that way). CH> CH> Finially I had to admit that I just didn't have the time to properly devote to CH> it any more. So it May of 1998 (I believe) I sent some email privately to CH> Brady Montz, as I felt that the stuff he contributed showed him to have the CH> most promise for taking it over at the time, and he (reluctantly?) agreed to CH> give it a shot. CH> CH> And you know the rest of the story from there... I wish I could have done CH> (and learned) more, but I'm happy to have done my part.
DV> Then - I believe it was in September or October (I have to look DV> this up in the mailing list archive) - Brady resigned and DV> everybody on the mailing list thought this would finally be the DV> end of fvwm development. Seeing this and not willing to give up DV> fvwm this easily, I took over the job as fvwm maintainer for the DV> moment. After a lot of discussion we agreed that we should try to DV> make a first stable release in the 2.x series as soon as possible. DV> With a great team effort we were able to resolve the most pressing DV> issues and managed to get the stable 2.2.0 release out the door DV> in February 1999. (I want to thank all the people who helped to DV> make it possible back then). DV> My memory of the sequence of events is a bit foggy. Some time in DV> late 1998 or early 1999 we decided that having a single maintainer DV> as the master over the code wasn't such a hot idea. In the past, DV> people had been eager to work on fvwm but had been hindered by the DV> maintainer, or more precisely: by the absence of a maintainer. DV> As a result, almost no work had been done in fvwm for over one and DV> a half years. So I gave up my role as the maintainer and the DV> responsibilities were since taken over by the people on the DV> fvwm-workers list. Unfortunatly I'm still stuck with most of the DV> project organizing work.
CH> I have to admit that at the time I didn't think the "rule by committee" stuff CH> was going to work with fvwm, but all in all it seems to have worked out pretty CH> well. I think that a lot of that has to do with the fact that you were there CH> to steer it's course. Having some other pretty sharp individuals contributing CH> helps too, of course. :)
DV> Anyway, since that day in October 1998 when a complete X newbie DV> couldn't keep his mouth shut fvwm development is as active as it DV> will ever be. Some of the people that helped to make 2.2 possible DV> left and some became less active, but we still have an excellent DV> team here (with a weakness in writing documentation). Although DV> I'd rather not single out anyone, I have to mention Olivier DV> Chapuis and Mikhael Goikhman who are doing an excellent job in DV> providing some framework (configure, fvwm-themes, DV> internationalization, not to mention all the nifty features in the DV> fvwm core they have written). Although at times it might appear DV> as if I am the one that keeps fvwm alive, fvwm wouldn't be half as DV> good without the help of the many people on the mailing lists, be DV> it by writing bug reports, complaining about missing features, DV> answering questions of other users or simply encouraging us to DV> continue our work. DV> What about the future? Well, the work for the next stable series DV> (2.6.x) is proceeding very well. Fvwm will go into feature freeze DV> again near the end of the year so that 2.6 is ready before fvwm's DV> tenth birthday on 1st of June, 2003. I have vague plans for a DV> big event on that day to remind people that fvwm is still there DV> and that it can easily compete with any other window manager. DV> After that there are plans for a version 3.0 that would change a DV> lot of the syntax and introduce fantastic new features, but that's DV> too far from now.
CH> Ah the future...scary and exciting... :)
>> Perhaps it'd be worthy of a page on the FVWM website too?
DV> That is definitely going to be done for fvwm's birthday.
CH> Cool. CH> Hope my feedback helped fill in some more of the blanks. CH> Later, CH> Chuck