Re: [As-users] software patent regarding pager

[ ] (
Sat, 15 May 2004 20:12:05 +0200


There is are some anti-globalisation activists in Attac Germany=20
(, who are working on software patents. I forwarded Niklas'=20
message to their mailinglist (
and got a mail from Cristian Pietsch ( back (see=20


=2D---------  ### Forwarded Message ###  ----------

Hallo Laura und Aktive,

ich schreibe das mal auf Englisch, damit Du es gleich weiterleiten

In the case of the Microsoft patent application for the "Virtual
Desktop", proving prior art is trivially easy.  Here's a handy short
link I created:

It is well known in the Unix community that the virtual desktop first
appeared in the Solbourne window manager (swm, also known as ParcPlace
window manager) programmed by Thomas E. LaStrange.  Solbourne was a
manufacturer of computer workstations and suitable software (just like
Sun). It can still be downloaded from the X Consortium's file server:
Unpack it, and look in the man directory for more information.  The
manual file swm.1 of this distribution dates from February 26, 1992.

> man swm

=2D---- begin manual page ----

SWM(1)                                                     SWM(1)

       swm - ParcPlace window manager

       swm [-single]

       swm  is  an  X Window System window manager with a user-config=AD
       urable look-and-feel.  It  comes  with  standard  configuration
       files  for  the OPEN LOOK, Motif, uwm(1) and twm(1) styles.  It
       also provides a "virtual desktop" facility, whereby the size of
       the  screen  is  effectively  expanded,  areas off-screen being
       brought into view by panning up, down, left, or  right.   Users
       may specify one of these packages, add their own extensions, or
       build something entirely different.

=2D---- end manual page ----

Also included is a scientific paper by Thomas E. LaStrange presented
at the 1990 Usenix conference ( that further explains,
(from the abstract)

       swm is a policy-free, user configurable window manager client for
       the X Window System. Besides providing basic window manager
       functionality, swm introduces new features not found in
       existing window managers.  [...] Its major advantage over other
       window managers is a feature called the Virtual Desktop. The
       Virtual Desktop effectively makes the X root window larger than
       the physical limits of the display and can be panned in a
       number of ways, including scrollbars, a panner object, or
       window manager commands.

Section 6 further explains the concept of a "Virtual Desktop".  There
is also a footnote stating, "Virtual Desktop is a trademark of
Solbourne Computer Inc."

Other places in the WWW confirm that the swm introduced this
functionality. To name a few:

Personally, I've been a user of a newer piece of software by Thomas
E. LaStrange, tvtwm. Here's the section of its manual page that

pointed me towards swm:
> man tvtwm

=2D---- begin manual page ----

TVTWM(1)                                                 TVTWM(1)

       tvtwm - Tom's Virtual Tab Window Manager for the X Window Sys=AD

       tvtwm [-display dpy] [-s] [-m | -M] [-k] [-f initfile] [-v]

       Tvtwm is a window manager for the X Window System based on the
       X11R5  version of twm.  It includes a ``Virtual Desktop'' fea=AD
       ture that effectively makes the  root  window  of  the  screen
       larger  than the physical limits of the display.  To change as
       little as possible in this manual, from  here  on  the  window
       manager is referred to as twm.

       The Virtual Desktop feature of tvtwm  was  modeled  after  the
       same  feature  in swm (Solbourne Window Manager).  The Virtual
       Desktop effectively makes the ``root'' window of  the  display
       larger  than the physical screen size.  The Virtual Desktop is
       panned in one of two ways, either  by  executing  one  of  the
       f.scroll commands or by using the panner.

       The  panner is a special window that shows a miniature view of
       windows on the desktop.  The small windows in the panner  will
       have the same colors as the titlebars and icons of their asso=AD
       ciated client windows.  The panner is very simple to  operate.
       Mouse  button  one,  pressed  inside the panner, allows you to
       move the outline indicating your current view on the  desktop.
       Releasing  the button will reposition the desktop to the point
       at which the outline is displayed.  Mouse button two,  pressed
       in  one of the small "virtual" windows, allows you to move the
       small window to another portion of the desktop.  If during the
       move  operation,  you  would  like to place the window in your
       current view of the desktop, simply moving the pointer out  of
       the panner will result in the window outline changing from the
       small outline to a large outline showing the dimensions of the
       client  window.   The  converse  is true of any move operation
       started outside of the panner:  if the pointer is  moved  into
       the  panner window, the outline will change to a small outline
       allowing you to place the  window  anywhere  on  the  desktop.
       Another  feature  of  the panner is that if you resize it, the
       Virtual Desktop will resize a  corresponding  amount.   During
       the  resize,  the dimensions shown reflect the Virtual Desktop

       There are two hints that client windows may  use  when  asking
       the window manager to position top level windows:  User Speci=AD
       fied Position  (USPosition)  and  Program  Specified  Position
       (PPosition).   tvtwm handles each of these two hints in a dif=AD
       ferent manner.  If USPosition hints are set, the  window  will
       be placed at the pixel location requested.  If PPosition hints
       are set, the window will be placed at the  requested  location
       plus the offsets of the current Virtual Desktop position.  For
       example, if the desktop is positioned at +100+300 and a window
       is  mapped  at  +100+100  with PPosition hints set, the window
       would be placed at +200+400 on the Virtual Desktop.

       Along  with  the  Virtual  Desktop  comes  a  concept   called
       ``sticky'' windows.  Sticky windows can be thought of as stuck
       to the glass of the display.  Sticky windows do not scroll out
       of view when the desktop is scrolled.

=2D---- end of manual page section ----


  Cristian Pietsch


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