Difference between revisions of "Comparison of tiling window managers"

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== [[xmonad]] ==
 
== [[xmonad]] ==
[http://xmonad.org/ xmonad] is written in Haskell, and it is configured in Haskell. This allows great flexibility, although this can be confusing at times. No text configuration file has been implemented. For all configuration changes xmonad must be recompiled, so the haskell compiler (over 485MB) must be installed. Compilation normally takes ~2 seconds, and can be done without affecting running programs. XMonad, in itself, is quite simple, but there is a large library called xmonad-contrib which provides many other features. XMonad does not include any utility programs, but others, such as [[dzen]] and [[xmobar]], make it easy to display such things as workspace information. xmonad does not come with an application launcher, but there are modules in xmonad-contrib which provide one, as well as programs like [[dmenu]] and gmrun. There is no system tray, but this can be provided by applications such as stalonetray and trayer.
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[http://xmonad.org/ xmonad] is written in Haskell, and it is configured in Haskell. This allows great flexibility, although this can be confusing at times. No text configuration file has been implemented. For all configuration changes, xmonad must be recompiled, so the Haskell compiler (over 485MB) must be installed. Compilation normally takes ~2 seconds, and can be done without affecting running programs. XMonad, in itself, is quite simple, but there is a large library called {{Pkg|xmonad-contrib}} which provides many other features. XMonad does not include any utility programs, but others, such as [[dzen]] and [[xmobar]], make it easy to display such things as workspace information. xmonad does not come with an application launcher, but there are modules in {{Pkg|xmonad-contrib}} which provide one, as well as programs like [[dmenu]] and gmrun. There is no system tray, but this can be provided by applications such as {{Pkg|stalonetray}} and {{Pkg|trayer}}.
  
 
== More Resources ==
 
== More Resources ==

Revision as of 05:09, 31 October 2011

This article provides an unbiased comparison of the most popular tiling window managers (as opposed to floating window managers).

Comparison table

The following table lists the most popular tiling window managers alongside notable features, providing readers with a quick overview. More in-depth descriptions follow this table.

Comparison of tiling window managers
Window Manager Written in Configured with Management styl System tray support On-the-fly reload Information bars Compositing Default layouts Pixel usage External control Library Multiple (n) monitor behavior
Awesome C Lua Dynamic Built-in Yes Built-in, images and text Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr variable borders, optional h-tab titles dbus (if enabled) XCB n-tags (workspaces). Per default 9 are enabled. Example
catwm C C (recompile) Dynamic None No None No v-stack, max 1-pix borders Xlib
dswm Lisp Lisp Manual None Yes Yes No
dwm C C (recompile) Dynamic None Optional Built-in, reads from root window name Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr v-stack, max Xlib n regions, 9 workspaces fixed to each region
echinus C Text Dynamic None Yes ourico Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr v-stack, b-stack, max Variable borders & optional titles Xlib
euclid-wm C Text Hybrid None Yes External (dzen) rows, columns 1-pix borders Xlib
herbstluftwm C Text Manual None Yes rows, columns 1-pix borders commands via herbstclient Xlib and Glib
i3 C Text Manual None Yes i3status with dzen or xmobar Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr rows, columns, v-tab, h-tab, max 2-pix borders, titles commands via ipc XCB n regions
Ion3 C Lua Manual trayion Yes configurable  ? h-tab, max
Musca C Text, own command set, C(recompile) Manual None No, but allows running of musca commands on the fly None No h-split, v-split, max commands, hooks Xlib
Notion C Lua, compatible with Ion3 configs Manual trayion, stalonetray Yes configurable  ? h-tab, max Configurable borders and titlebars/tabs "Takes into account changes to the screen topology without needing to restart Notion"
Ratpoison C Text Manual None Yes Yes Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr max
Scrotwm C Text Dynamic None Yes Built-in, reads from user script No nv-stack, nh-stack, max 1-pix borders, no titles Xlib n regions, 10 workspaces visible in any region
Stumpwm Lisp Lisp Manual None Yes Yes No
subtle C Ruby Manual Built-in Yes Built-in (Ruby), external can be used as well Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr Variable grid Variable borders, no titles Hooks (Ruby), subtler (CLI), subtlext (Ruby extension) Xlib One workspace (view) per monitor (screen), placement on views via tags and per runtime
WMFS C Text Dynamic Built-in Yes Built-in, set with command, color text, images May with external manager such as {d,x}compmgr nh-stack (and invert), nv-stack (and invert), mirror-v, mirror-h, grid, free, max variable borders, titles or no titles commands Xlib Up to 36 tags(workspaces) per screen
wmii C Anything Manual witray Yes Built-in Yes, with an external manager such as xcompmgr columns, max, v-tab titles 9P filesystem one big region
xmonad Haskell Haskell Dynamic None Yes No Yes, with xmonad-contrib and an external manager nv-stack, nh-stack, max variable borders, no titles via XMonad-Hooks-ServerMode Xlib n regions, 9 workspaces visible in any region
Window Manager Written in Configured with Management style System tray support On-the-fly reload Information bars Compositing Default layouts Pixel usage External control Library Multiple (n) monitor behavior
Tip: External control can also be achieved by programs like Template:Package Official which simulate keystrokes.

Management style

Dynamic management emphasizes automatic management of window layouts for speed and simplicity. Manual management emphasizes manual adjustment of layout and sizing with potentially more precise control, at the cost of more time spent moving and sizing windows.

Layouts

A number of common layout types appear in several tiling WMs, although the terminology varies somewhat.

  • max: one window shown fullscreen (with or without a status bar, title and borders). Aka: monocle (dwm).
  • h-stack: master area in top half, other windows stack up horizontally in the bottom half. The master area may be resizable. May be inverted top-bottom (wmfs). Aka: bottom stack (dwm).
  • v-stack: master area in left half, other windows stack up vertically in the right half. The master area may be resizable. May be inverted left-right (wmfs). Aka: tile (dwm).
  • nh-stack: h-stack allowing >=1 windows in master area. Aka: nbstack (dwm)
  • nv-stack: v-stack allowing >=1 windows in master area. Aka: ntile (dwm)
  • mirror-h: nh-stack with stacks above and below the master area
  • mirror-v: nv-stack with stacks to the left and right of the master area
  • h-tab: one window shown fullscreen with all window titles shown horizontally (like browser tabs)
  • v-tab: one window shown fullscreen with all window titles shown vertically. Aka: stack (wmii).
  • h-split: a keybinding splits the current window horizontally creating space for another
  • v-split: a keybinding splits the current window horizontally creating space for another
  • columns: manual layout style which treats windows as belonging to vertical columns
  • rows: manual layout style which treats windows as belonging to horizontal rows
  • grid: window positions and sizes based on a regular NxM grid. May be automatic (like wmfs) or manual (like Subtle).

Key bindings

Tiling window managers are usually designed to be used entirely with the keyboard or with keyboard & mouse. This is for speed (reaching for and moving a mouse is slow) and ease of use. Sensible key bindings are crucial to making workflow fast and efficient. Some default sets are better than others, but generally the keys can be rebound as desired by the user.

Awesome

awesome on its own can provide many of the functions of a desktop environment. Configured in Lua, it has a system tray, information bar, and launcher built in. There are extensions available to it written in Lua. Awesome uses XCB as opposed to Xlib, which may result in a speed increase. Awesome has other features as well, such as an early replacement for notification-daemon, a right-click menu similar to that of the *box window managers, and many other things.

catwm

catwm is a small window manager, even simpler than dwm, written in C. Configuration is done by modifying the config.h file and recompiling.

dswm

dswm (AUR) (Deep Space Window Manager) is an offshoot of Stumpwm.

dwm

dwm is one of the simpler window managers. It does not include a tray app or automatic launcher, although dmenu integrates well with it, as they are from the same author. It has no text configuration file. Configuration is done entirely by modifying the C source code, and it must be recompiled and restarted each time it is changed. It is more lightweight than the others listed here, at the expense of certain features. The program size is already at the self-imposed line limit, restricting further development.

echinus

echinus (AUR) is a simple and lightweight tiling and floating window manager for X11. It started as a dwm fork with easier configuration, and became a full-featured reparenting window manager with EWMH support. It has an EWMH-compatible panel/taskbar called ourico.

euclid-wm

euclid-wm (AUR) is a hybrid manual and automatic window manager, with support for minimizing windows. Simplicity is one of its goals. A text configuration file controls key bindings and settings.

herbstluftwm

herbstluftwm is a manual tiling window manager similar to Musca and i3. It is available from the AUR: Template:Package AUR.

i3

i3 was created because wmii, the authors' favorite window manager at the time, didn’t provide some features they wanted. Notable differences are in the areas of Xinerama and the table metaphor. For speed the Plan 9 interface of wmii is not implemented.

ion3

Ion is a tiling window manager with tabbed frames. It uses Lua as an embedded interpreter which handles all of the configuration. It mainly uses the keyboard to access the functions but also supports the mouse for some things.

Musca

A simple dynamic window manager for X, with features nicked from ratpoison and dwm: Musca operates as a tiling window manager by default. It uses manual tiling, which means the user determines how the screen is divided into non-overlapping frames, with no restrictions on layout. Application windows always fill their assigned frame, with the exception of transient windows and popup dialog boxes which float above their parent application at the appropriate size. Once visible, applications do not change frames unless so instructed.

Notion

Notion is a tiling, tabbed window manager for the X window system.

  • Tiling: you divide the screen into non-overlapping 'tiles'. Every window occupies one tile, and is maximized to it
  • Tabbing: a tile may contain multiple windows - they will be 'tabbed'
  • Static: most tiled window managers are 'dynamic', meaning they automatically resize and move around tiles as windows appear and disappear. Notion, by contrast, does not automatically change the tiling.

Notion is a fork of Ion3. There is a package in community.

Ratpoison

Ratpoison is configured with a simple text file, as opposed to some of the other tiling window managers which are configured with programming languages. While this reduces flexibility, it can be easier to understand. The information bar in Ratpoison is somewhat different, as it shows only when needed. It serves as both an application launcher as well as a notification bar. Ratpoison does not include a system tray and is quite lightweight.

Scrotwm

scrotwm is a small dynamic tiling window manager largely inspired by xmonad and dwm. It tries to stay out of the way so that valuable screen real estate can be used for much more important stuff. It has sane defaults and does not require one to learn a language to do any configuration, being configured with a text file. It was written by hackers for hackers and it strives to be small, compact, and fast. It has a built-in status bar fed from a user-defined script.

Stumpwm

Stumpwm is similar to Ratpoison but is written and configured completely in Lisp. It can be reconfigured and reloaded while running. As with wmii and Ratpoison, it is a manual window manager. Its information bar can be set to show constantly or only when needed. It does not include a system tray.

subtle

subtle is a tiling window manager with flexible manual layouts based on predefined sizes and positions corresponding by default to 1x2, 2x1, 1x3, 2x2 and 2x3 grid elements. It has workspace tags and automatic client tagging, mouse and keyboard control as well as an extendable statusbar.

wmfs

WMFS (Window Manager From Scratch) is a lightweight and highly configurable tiling window manager for X. It can be configured with a configuration file, supports Xft (Freetype) fonts and is compliant with the Extended Window Manager Hints (EWMH) specifications. It's still under heavy development

wmii

wmii uses a manual style of management -- the user must manually move windows around. While more work than dynamic management, this also provides more flexibility by default. wmii is configured via a 9P file system, which allows any program that can work with text to configure it. The default configuration is in bash and rc (the Plan 9 shell), but programs exist written in ruby, for example. It has a status bar and launcher built in, and also an optional system tray (Template:Codeline).

xmonad

xmonad is written in Haskell, and it is configured in Haskell. This allows great flexibility, although this can be confusing at times. No text configuration file has been implemented. For all configuration changes, xmonad must be recompiled, so the Haskell compiler (over 485MB) must be installed. Compilation normally takes ~2 seconds, and can be done without affecting running programs. XMonad, in itself, is quite simple, but there is a large library called xmonad-contrib which provides many other features. XMonad does not include any utility programs, but others, such as dzen and xmobar, make it easy to display such things as workspace information. xmonad does not come with an application launcher, but there are modules in xmonad-contrib which provide one, as well as programs like dmenu and gmrun. There is no system tray, but this can be provided by applications such as stalonetray and trayer.

More Resources

The forum has a wealth of information about many of the tiling window managers compared here. Some notable threads specific to tilers include:

Tiling WM threads

Threads featuring configs & hacks

Artwork for tilers