Metisse home page Using and configuring the Metisse compositor

Keep in mind that although very robust, Metisse is still experimental software. Many of the interaction techniques and configuration mechanisms described here could probably be replaced by better ones. Consider them as a starting point. Explore, modify, extend and contribute!

Default bindings

Some of the mouse and keyboard bindings used by the Metisse compositor might be intercepted by your native window system or window manager for their own reasons. The Alt-Tab key combination, for example, might show the list of windows managed by your native window system instead of showing the ones managed by Metisse. There are basically three solutions to this problem:

  1. Configuring the Metisse compositor (see below) so that one or more modifier key(s) need to be pressed for Metisse operations to avoid conflicts;
  2. Using a window manager that allows to disable its own bindings for particular windows (e.g. the FvwmCompositor window);
  3. Running Metisse without any other window manager.

We recommend using one of the last two solutions. Note, however, that these solutions are impossible on OS X.

The following list describes the default mouse and key bindings used by the compositor. Super is the "Windows" key on PC keyboards or the "Command" key on Apple keyboards (the one with the Apple logo). Mouse buttons are numbered as follows: M1 is the left one, M2 is the middle one, M3 is the right one. MW is the mouse wheel. Mx denotes any mouse button or wheel action. Unless otherwise specified, mouse actions on buttons are assumed to be simple clicks.


Super-MW: virtual desktop zoom in/out

Root window

If you use a desktop application such as KDesktop or Nautilus, you will need to press the Alt key in addition to the mouse button.

M1: shows the root menu (start programs, restart/quit/configure the compositor)

M2: shows the list of 'normal' windows

M3: shows the window operations menu


MW: virtual desktop zoom in/out

Inside a Window

Alt-M1: move the window

Alt-Mx: like the same action on the root window

Ctrl-Super-MW: grow/shrink the window

Super-M1-drag: mark a window region to be later drag-and-dropped to create a façade

Super-M1: cancel the last region that was marked in that window

Title bars

M1-drag-or-hold: move the window

M1 then M1-drag-or-hold: temporarily move the window

M1-double-click: maximize (toggle)

M1-double-click then M1-drag-or-hold: send the window to another page (marking menu)

M1 triple-click: shrink and maximize vertically (toggle)

M2: reset the window transformations

M3: shows the window operations menu

MW: grow/shrink the window

Window borders

M1-drag-or-hold: resize, scale or rotate the window (marking menu)

M1 then M1-drag-or-hold: fold, temporarily scale or temporarily rotate the window (fold only at the corners, marking menu at the edges)

Shift-M1: resize the window

Alt-M1-drag: scale the window

Super-M1-drag: temporarily scale the window

M1-double-click: maximize (toggle)

M2: reset the window transformations

M3: shows the window operations menu

Window buttons

Menu button

M1: shows the window operations menu

M1-double-click: close the window

M2: some special menus items (façades)

M3: send the window to another page

Maximize button

M1: maximize the window (toggle)

M1-drag: maximize the window in the direction of the drag

M1-double-click: shows a maximize/grow menu

M2 or M3: grow the window

MW: maximize vertically/unmaximize the window

Minimize button

M1 or MW: iconify the window

M1-double-click: shows a shrink menu

M2 or M3: shrink the window

Close button (only in certain themes)

M1: delete the window

(M1 or M2)-double-click: close the window

M3: destroy the window

Stick button (only in certain themes)

Mx: stick the window (toggle)

Inclined arrow button (only in certain themes)

M1-drag: interactive Z rotation

M2: turn the window upside-down

M3: 90° counterclockwise Z rotation

Up-down arrow button (only in certain themes): similar to the inclined arrow for the X axis

Left-right arrow button (only in certain themes): similar to the inclined arrow for the Y axis

Keyboard shortcuts

Super-F1: reset the window transformations

Super-F2 and Super-F3: Z rotations

Super-F4 and Super-F5: Y rotations

Super-F6 and Super-F7: X rotations

Super-F8 and Super-F9: virtual desktop zoom out/in

Super-F10: decrease the transparency of the current window

Super-F11: increase the transparency of the current window

Super-F12: restore the standard desktop view

Super-PageDown and Super-PageUp: virtual desktop zoom out/in

Super-(left,right,up,down): pan the virtual desktop, if zoomed in

Super-z: grow the current window

Super-s: shrink the current window

Super-c: map the current window on a circular shape (more or less broken, just for fun...)

Super-a: animate the window (toggle, just for fun)

Super-o: start an interactive XY rotation

Super-t: switch the transparency of the current window between 1.0 and 0.7

Super-i: toggle an animated scaling operation on the current window

Super-x: scale the current window so that it takes up all screen space

Super-f: take a screenshot and save it as capture.jpg in the directory where the compositor was launched from

Super-d: zoom out to full virtual desktop view or in to the current page

Alt-F1: shows the root menu

Alt-F2: shows the list of 'normal' windows

Alt-F3: shows the window operations menu

Alt-F4: close the current window (i.e. the one under the mouse pointer)

Alt-F5: move the current window to the front or back

Alt-F6: restore the current window to its original state

Alt-F7: move the current window

Alt-F8: resize the current window

Alt-F9: iconify the current window

Alt-F10: maximize the current window vertically

Alt-F11: maximize the current window horizontally

Alt-F12: start an FvwmConsole

Alt-Tab: shows the list of 'normal' windows

Ctrl-Alt-(left,right,up,down): move to the left, right, up or down page

Ctrl-Alt-z: move to the previous page

Ctrl-Alt-(PageUp,PageDown):: circulate between the desktops

Configuring the compositor

The root menu shows a WM Configuration item which allows to control some parameters (e.g. window transparency during move or resize operations), to configure the FVWM panel and to choose a graphical theme.

The compositor can be further customized by editing the FVWM configuration files it uses. These files are stored in ~/.fvwm-metisse and contain some comments that should help you understand their purpose (the FVWM man page can help you figure out the details). As an example, to modify the list of applications accessible from the root menu and the panel, edit the applications file. To change the mouse and key bindings, edit bindings-functions or bindings. If you're not happy with the default fonts, edit fonts. If you want something else than a single desk of nine pages, edit desks. To change the look of menus, edit menustyles. To change the content of the root and window menus, edit menus. To change the desktop background, edit background.

The main configuration file is metisserc. It is not recommended to edit it to add your own personal stuff. Instead, create an extra file. It will be automatically read by metisserc after all the others.

In order to try your new configuration after having edited one or more files, just restart the compositor using the root menu or issue the appropriate commands in an FvwmConsole.

If you encounter some problems after an upgrade, try running the compositor with a clean default configuration (e.g. cd ; mv .fvwm-metisse .fvwm-metisse-old ; metisse-start-fvwm) and compare it with your customized one (e.g. cd ; diff -r .fvwm-metisse .fvwm-metisse-old).