Difference between a window manager and a desktop environment

I don’t get the diff as a noob. I know what plasma and gnome are - desktops. I tried to install i3, a window manager, and it broke my computer so I’m having to reinstall the OS.

What I really want it something that allows me to move windows around like https://www.spectacleapp.com/. It used uses shortcuts and does not slot windows into free space like kwin does. Kwin might have shortcuts for windows moving but they didn’t work out of the box and I don’t need a highly configured version.

So, do I want something like i3 just to be able to move my windows around?
How is a window manager not a full desktop? If it’s not, then what is the desktop if say i3 is installed?

Short answer: A window manager is basically a blank screen which will help you manage/arrange programs started as GUIs - no window decorations, no bars or fancy menues (unless you run those as programs), no mouse or touchpad needed.

Shorter answer: Free your mind from the DOZE.

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A desktop environment ( DE ) is an implementation of the desktop metaphor made of a bundle of programs, which share a common graphical user interface (GUI).


A window manager (WM) is system software that controls the placement and appearance of windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface (GUI). It can be part of a desktop environment (DE) or be used standalone.



A Desktop environment is a Window manager with extra steps…

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If you have the time and are willing to put the effort in a WM can be used to create your own DE experience. If you are new to linux is probably best to start with a DE xcfe, kde, cinnamon, budgie are all easy to get used to coming from Windows. Once you are comfortable with Linux try a VM and then create a system that is unique to you

compiz can do that
openbox can do that

Where compiz also manages compositing - and for my use case compiz works way better than openbox/picom combo with the Nvidia graphics I am using.

I have been a stable openbox user for years - but the past weeks I have been fiddling with compiz