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Matchbox — a Small Footprint Window Manager for Embedded Devices

Jul 31, 2002 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

In this technical article at, Matchbox project leader Matthew Allum introduces his creation: a small footprint window manager for PDAs and other resource-constrained embedded devices. Allum recalls why he decided to embark on the project, outlines its key objectives, describes its architecture and unique characteristics, and ponders its future. Quoting from the introduction . . .

” Remember when Compaq first published the screenshots of their 'new' iPAQ PDA running Linux?

“Amazed by this, as soon as the iPAQ initially became available I was quick to purchase one and took the, then, risky steps of braving a Linux install. Thankfully, my experiment was successful and I was soon greeted with a 240×320 X Server display running various simple X apps.”

“After the realization that the only real limitation was disk space, it wasn't long before much more exotic applications were cross compiled or borrowed from Debian ARM distribution and made available for the iPAQ. However, something soon became very apparent: the small sized display and limited input meant that although apps ran, they were uncomfortable to use.”

“One of the main causes of this was that existing window managers weren't designed to cater to such a small display, let alone a touchscreen and virtual keyboard or stroke recognizer for character input.”

I realized a window manager designed with these constraints in mind would prove a great help. I bought a book on xlib and began work on . . . Matchbox . . .”

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