Difference between revisions of "Comparison of tiling window managers"

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| C || Lua || Hybrid || None || Yes || {{ic|dzen2}} fed by {{ic|ewmhstatus}} || via {{ic|compton}} || v-split, h-split || triple borders || via {{ic|bspc}} || XCB || Unknown || Active
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| C || Lua || Hybrid || None || Yes || {{ic|dzen2}} fed by {{ic|ewmhstatus}} || via {{ic|compton}} || v-split, h-split || triple borders || via {{ic|bspc}} || XCB || Monitors hold Desktops || Active
 
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| C || Text || Dynamic || None || Yes || [https://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?O=0&K=ourico&do_Search=Go ourico] || external || v-stack, b-stack, max || Variable borders & optional titles || || Xlib || || Unknown
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| C || Text || Dynamic || None || Yes || {{AUR|ourico}} || external || v-stack, b-stack, max || Variable borders & optional titles || || Xlib || || Unknown
 
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| C || Text || Manual || i3bar || Yes || text piped to i3bar ({{Pkg|i3status}} or {{Pkg|conky}} can be used) || external || tree, v-split, h-split, stacked, tabbed, max || 2-pix borders with titles, 1-pix with no titles or no borders/titles || commands via ipc (or i3-msg, which uses ipc) || XCB || n regions || Active
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| C || Text || Manual || i3bar || Yes || text piped to i3bar ({{Ic|i3status}}/{{Ic|conky}} can be used) or {{Ic|dzen2}} via {{AUR|i3-wsbar}} || external || tree, v-split, h-split, stacked, tabbed, max || 2-pix borders with titles, 1-pix with no titles or no borders/titles || commands via ipc (or i3-msg, which uses ipc) || XCB || n regions || Active
 
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| 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 || Active
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| C || Text || Dynamic || None || Yes || Built-in, reads from user script || No || nv-stack, nh-stack, max || 1-pix borders, no titles || || XCB || n regions, 10 workspaces visible in any region || Active
 
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Revision as of 21:01, 8 January 2013

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.

Comparison of tiling window managers
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 Maintenance
Awesome C Lua Dynamic Built-in Yes Built-in, images and text external variable borders, optional h-tab titles dbus (if enabled) XCB n-tags (workspaces). Per default 9 are enabled. Example Active
bspwm C Lua Hybrid None Yes dzen2 fed by ewmhstatus via compton v-split, h-split triple borders via bspc XCB Monitors hold Desktops Active
catwm C C (recompile) Dynamic None No None No v-stack, max 1-pix borders Xlib Abandoned
dswm Lisp Lisp Manual None Yes Yes No Active
dwm C C (recompile) Dynamic None Optional Built-in, reads from root window name external v-stack, max Xlib n regions, 9 workspaces fixed to each region Active
echinus C Text Dynamic None Yes ouricoAUR external v-stack, b-stack, max Variable borders & optional titles Xlib Unknown
euclid-wm C Text Hybrid None Yes External (dzen) rows, columns 1-pix borders Xlib Dormant
herbstluftwm C Text Manual None Yes rows, columns 1-pix borders commands via herbstclient Xlib and Glib n regions, 9 workspaces visible in any region Active
i3 C Text Manual i3bar Yes text piped to i3bar (i3status/conky can be used) or dzen2 via i3-wsbarAUR external tree, v-split, h-split, stacked, tabbed, max 2-pix borders with titles, 1-pix with no titles or no borders/titles commands via ipc (or i3-msg, which uses ipc) XCB n regions Active
Ion3 C Lua Manual trayion Yes configurable  ? h-tab, max Abandoned
monsterwm C C (recompile) Dynamic None Optional, but windows are lost No, outputs information to stdout, which can easily be parsed and displayed by an external monitor or panel (dzen2, conky, etc) external h-stack, v-stack, grid, max supports _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW, so external control can be supplied by xdotool and similar tools Xlib primary and XCB fork n workspaces per monitor Active
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 Abandoned
Notion C, Lua Lua, compatible with Ion3 configs Manual trayion, stalonetray Yes configurable  ? h-tab, max Configurable borders and titlebars/tabs EWMH, arbitrary Lua scripts which have access to the rich internal API Xlib n workspaces on each monitor. Supports on-the-fly changes in topology Active
qtile Python Python Dynamic Yes Yes Yes  ? tree, v-split, h-split, stacked, tabbed, max No borders, although customizable Hooks, Server mode XCB Active
Ratpoison C Text Manual None Yes Yes external max Abandoned
Snapwm C Text Dynamic None Yes Built-in, reads from root window name External nVertical, Fullscreen, nHorizontal, Grid, Center Stacking variable borders, no titles Xlib Number of desktops distributed evenly between monitors Active
Spectrwm C Text Dynamic None Yes Built-in, reads from user script No nv-stack, nh-stack, max 1-pix borders, no titles XCB n regions, 10 workspaces visible in any region Active
Stumpwm Lisp Lisp Manual None Yes Yes No Dormant
subtle C Ruby Manual Built-in Yes Built-in (Ruby), external can be used as well external 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 Active
WMFS C Text Dynamic Built-in Yes Built-in, set with command, color text, images external 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 Active
wmii C Anything Manual witray Yes Built-in external columns, max, v-tab titles 9P filesystem one big region active
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 Active
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 Maintenance
Tip: External control can also be achieved by programs like xdotool 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, monsterwm).
  • 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), bstack(monsterwm).
  • 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, monsterwm).
  • 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, monsterwm) 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.

External links