bspwm

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bspwm is a tiling window manager that represents windows as the leaves of a full binary tree. bspwm supports multiple monitors and is configured and controlled through messages. EWMH is partially supported.

Installation

Install the bspwm package or bspwm-gitAUR for the development version.

Starting

Run bspwm using xinit.

Configuration

Important: Make sure your environment variable $XDG_CONFIG_HOME is set or your bspwmrc will not be found. This can be done by adding XDG_CONFIG_HOME="$HOME/.config" and export XDG_CONFIG_HOME to your ~/.profile.

The example configuration is located in /usr/share/doc/bspwm/examples/.

Copy bspwmrc from there into ~/.config/bspwm/ and sxhkdrc into ~/.config/sxhkd/.

These two files are where you will be setting wm settings and keybindings, respectively.

See the bspwm(1) and sxhkd(1) manuals for detailed documentation.

Note for multi-monitor setups

The example bspwmrc configures ten desktops on one monitor like this:

bspc monitor -d I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X

You will need to change this line and add one for each monitor, similar to this:

bspc monitor DVI-I-1 -d I II III IV
bspc monitor DVI-I-2 -d V VI VII
bspc monitor DP-1 -d VIII IX X

You can use xrandr -q or bspc query -M to find the monitor names.

The total number of desktops were maintained at ten in the above example. This is so that each desktop can still be addressed with super + {1-9,0} in the sxhkdrc.

Rules

There are two ways to set window rules (as of cd97a32).

The first is by using the built in rule command, as shown in the example bspwmrc:

bspc rule -a Gimp desktop=^8 follow=on state=floating
bspc rule -a Chromium desktop=^2
bspc rule -a mplayer2 state=floating
bspc rule -a Kupfer.py focus=on
bspc rule -a Screenkey manage=off

The second option is to use an external rule command. This is more complex, but can allow you to craft more complex window rules. See these examples for a sample rule command.

If a particular window does not seem to be behaving according to your rules, check the class name of the program. This can be accomplished by running xprop | grep WM_CLASS to make sure you're using the proper string.

Panels

Using lemonbar

An example panel for lemonbar-gitAUR is provided in the examples folder on the GitHub page. You might also get some insights from the lemonbar wiki page. The panel will be executed by placing panel & in your bspwmrc. Check the opt-depends in the bspwm package for dependencies that may be required.

To display system information on your status bar you can use various system calls. This example will show you how to edit your panel to get the volume status on your BAR:

panel_volume()
{
        volStatus=$(amixer get Master | tail -n 1 | cut -d '[' -f 4 | sed 's/].*//g')
        volLevel=$(amixer get Master | tail -n 1 | cut -d '[' -f 2 | sed 's/%.*//g')
        # is alsa muted or not muted?
        if [ "$volStatus" == "on" ]
        then
                echo "%{Fyellowgreen} $volLevel %{F-}"
        else
                # If it is muted, make the font red
                echo "%{Findianred} $volLevel %{F-}"
        fi
}

Next, we will have to make sure it is called and piped to $PANEL_FIFO:

while true; do
echo "S" "$(panel_volume) $(panel_clock)" > "$PANEL_FIFO"
        sleep 1s
done &

Using yabar

Using the example panel using lemonbar requires you to set your environment (.profile), and make sure the panel scripts are on your path. Easier panel to set up is yabarAUR, which has just one config file.

Scratchpad

You can emulate a dropdown terminal (like i3's scratchpad feature if you put a terminal in it) using bspwm's window flags. Append the following to the end of the bspwm config file (adapt to your own terminal emulator):

bspc rule -a scratchpad sticky=on state=floating hidden=on
st -c scratchpad -e ~/bin/scratch &

The sticky flag ensures that the window is always present on the current desktop. And ~/bin/scratch is:

#!/usr/bin/sh
bspc query -N -n .floating > /tmp/scratchid
$SHELL

The hotkey for toggling the scratchpad should be bound to:

id=$(cat /tmp/scratchid);\
bspc node $id --flag hidden;bspc node -f $id

For a scratch-pad which can use any window type without pre-defined rules, see: [1]

For a more sophisticated scratchpad script that supports many terminals out of the box and has flags for doing things like optionally starting a tmuxinator/tmux session, turning any window into a scratchpad on the fly, and automatically resizing a scratchpad to fit the current monitor see tdrop-gitAUR.

Different monitor configurations for different machines

Since the bspwmrc is a shell script, it allows you to do things like these:

#! /bin/sh

 if [[ $(hostname) == 'myhost' ]]; then
     bspc monitor eDP1 -d I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X
 elif [[ $(hostname) == 'otherhost' ]]; then
     bspc monitor VGA-0 -d I II III IV V
     bspc monitor VGA-1 -d VI VII VIII IX X
 elif [[ $(hostname) == 'yetanotherhost' ]]; then
     bspc monitor DVI-I-3 -d VI VII VIII IX X
     bspc monitor DVI-I-2 -d I II III IV V
 fi
 

Set up a desktop where all windows are floating

Here is how to setup the desktop 3 to have only floating windows. It can be useful for Gimp or other apps with multiple windows.

Put this script somewhere in your $PATH and call it from .xinitrc or similar (with a & at the end):

#!/bin/bash

 # change the desktop number here
 FLOATING_DESKTOP_ID=$(bspc query -D -d '^3')

 bspc subscribe node_manage | while read -a msg ; do
    desk_id=${msg[2]}
    wid=${msg[3]}
    [ "$FLOATING_DESKTOP_ID" = "$desk_id" ] && bspc node "$wid" -t floating
 done
 

(source)

Keyboard

Bspwm does not handle any keyboard input and instead provides the bspc program as its interface.

For keyboard shortcuts you will have to setup a hotkey daemon like sxhkd (sxhkd-gitAUR for the development version).

Troubleshooting

Blank screen and keybindings don't work

  • Make sure you are starting sxhkd (in the background as it is blocking).
  • Make sure ~/.config/bspwm/bspwmrc is executable.

Window box larger than the actual application

This can happen if you are using GTK3 apps and usually for dialog windows. The fix is to create or add the below to a gtk3 theme file (~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css).

.window-frame, .window-frame:backdrop {
  box-shadow: 0 0 0 black;
  border-style: none;
  margin: 0;
  border-radius: 0;
}
    
.titlebar {
  border-radius: 0;
}

(source: Bspwm forum thread)

Problems with Java applications

If you have problems, like Java application Windows not resizing, or menus immediately closing after you click, see Java#Applications not resizing with WM, menus immediately closing.

Problems with keybindings using fish

If you use fish, you will find that you are unable to switch desktops. This is because bspc's use of the ^ character is incompatible with fish. You can fix this by explicitly telling sxhkd to use bash to execute commands:

$ set -U SXHKD_SHELL /usr/bin/bash

Alternatively, the ^ character may be escaped with a backslash in your sxhkdrc file.

Error messages "Could not grab key 43 with modfield 68" on start

Either you try to use the same key twice, or you start sxhkd twice. Check bspwmrc and ~/.profile or ~/.bash_profile for excessive commands starting sxhkd.

Firefox context menu automatically selects first option on right click

Tango-edit-cut.pngThis section is being considered for removal.Tango-edit-cut.png

Reason: Should be reported upstream as a software bug (Discuss in Talk:Bspwm#)

Add the following line to the ```userChrome.css``` file of your firefox profile

#contentAreaContextMenu{ margin: 5px 0 0 5px }

See also