Heliwm screenshot with the "FRAME" option included at compile time.
I used 1.11, the latest in early October 2003. It dates from May 2003.
A fairly good man page is installed. Not totally accurate though: it says that "Alt-F7" is the default resize key combination, and "Alt-F8" is move, but these are in fact reversed with a default compile.
Hidetoshi Ohtomo, the author of Heliwm says: "Heliwm is designed and developed to be one of the smallest and lightest window managers in the world of X. I believe that saving memory and CPU time contributes to less electricity consumption, thus saving natural resources." He likes the idea of pronouncing it "Helium," which, like his product, "is small, light, and stable."
Compiling was simple, and the README explained the process well.
It's certainly small, possibly the smallest of all the window managers I tried, even with the "extras" ("FRAME" and "SHAPE") compiled in. It's also about as minimal as window managers come. A default compile doesn't even provide frames for the windows! There are no workspaces and no menus. Your mouse is nearly worthless with Heliwm because, even if you've compiled with the "FRAME" option (see the screenshot above) you can't move or resize a window using the frame or titlebar: it has to be done with the keyboard. In fact, a mouse click on a window or titlebar won't even focus that window. Mouse clicks on the titlebar will iconize or lower windows, depending on the button used.
Moving and resizing windows will feel relatively easy for vi users: he's chosen to use the "hjkl" keys once you enter move or resize mode with a key combination.
All key bindings can be remapped (if you compiled in support for the config file, which is on by default). Some standard keys are mapped, such as Alt-Tab to cycle windows and Alt-F4 to kill.
Extremely light-weight. Very keyboard-oriented.
Mouse is near-useless.