Difference between revisions of "Monsterwm"

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Using AUR
Using AUR
Download the {{AUR|monsterwm-git}} or {{AUR|monsterwm-xcb-git}} package from the [[Arch User Repository|AUR]]. Then, as a non-root user, run:
Download the {{AUR|monsterwm-git}} or {{AUR|monsterwm-xcb-git}} package from the [[AUR]]. Then, as a non-root user, run:
  $ makepkg -i
  $ makepkg -i
while in the directory of the saved PKGBUILD. All the files will be retrieved, the package will be built and installed.
while in the directory of the saved [[PKGBUILD]]. All the files will be retrieved, the package will be built and installed.
=== Method 2 ===
=== Method 2 ===

Revision as of 06:31, 8 September 2012

Monsterwm is a minimal, lightweight, tiny but monstrous dynamic tiling window manager. It will try to stay as small as possible. Currently under 700 lines with the config file included. It provides a set of four different layout modes (vertical stack, bottom stack, grid and monocle/fullscreen) by default, and has floating mode support. Each virtual desktop has its own properties, unaffected by other desktops' settings. Finally monsterwm supports multiple monitors setups.

Monsterwm is written with Xlib but there is also an XCB fork available.


Method 1

Using AUR

Download the monsterwm-gitAUR or monsterwm-xcb-gitAUR package from the AUR. Then, as a non-root user, run:

$ makepkg -i

while in the directory of the saved PKGBUILD. All the files will be retrieved, the package will be built and installed.

Method 2

Using git (recommended by monsterwm's author).

Clone the official github repository from github:

$ git clone git://github.com/c00kiemon5ter/monsterwm.git
$ cd monsterwm

Or clone the xcb-based fork:

$ git clone git://github.com/Cloudef/monsterwm-xcb.git
$ cd monsterwm-xcb

To build monsterwm, run the following as a non-root user:

$ make

To install monsterwm, run the following as root:

# make clean install

Before you build monsterwm, you may want to jump to the Configuration section and Customization to change the default configuration.


Monsterwm uses it's config.h file for configuration. By default, some hotkeys are already set.

Note: the default MOD1 key is the Alt key.

  • MOD + h (decrease the size of a current window)
  • MOD + l (increase the size of a current window)
  • MOD + Shift + c (close current window)
  • MOD + Tab (move to last desktop)
  • MOD + k (change to previous window)
  • MOD + j (change to next window)
  • MOD + Shift + k (move current window up)
  • MOD + Shift + j (move current window down)
  • MOD + Enter (change master to current window)
  • MOD + t (switch to tile mode)
  • MOD + b (switch to bottomstack mode)
  • MOD + g (switch to grid mode)
  • MOD + m (switch to monocle mode)
  • MOD4 + v (open dmenu - requires dmenu)
  • MOD + Shift + Return (open xterm)
  • MOD + Left (previous desktop)
  • MOD + Right (next desktop)
  • MOD + F1-4 (change to desktop #)
  • MOD + Control + q (quit monsterwm with exit value 1)
  • MOD + Control + r (quit monsterwm with exit value 0)

you can find more information in the man page

$ man monsterwm

Floating Mode

In floating mode one can freely move and resize windows in the screen space. Changing desktops, adding or removing floating windows, does not affect the floating status of the windows. Windows will revert to their tiling mode position once the user selects a tiling mode. To enter the floating mode, either change the layout to FLOAT, or enabled it by moving or resizing a window with the mouse, the window is then marked as being in floating mode.


The user can define an empty space on the bottom or top of the screen, to be used by a panel. The panel is toggleable, but will be visible if no windows are on the screen. Monsterwm does not provide a panel and/or statusbar itself. Instead it adheres to the UNIX philosophy and outputs information about the existing desktops suchs as the number of windows and the tiling mode/layout of each desktop, the current desktop and urgent hints whenever needed. The user can use whatever tool or panel suits him best (dzen2, conky, some-sorta-bar, bar, bipolarbar, mopag, w/e), to process and display that information.

To disable the panel completely set PANEL_HEIGHT to zero 0. The SHOW_PANELL setting controls whether the panel is visible on startup, it does not control whether there is a panel or not.

You can find an example of how to achieve this here. You can actually parse that information with any language you want, build anything you want, and display the information however you'd like. Do not be limited by that example.


Some extensions to the code are supported in the form of patches. See other branches for the patch and code. Easiest way to apply a patch, is to git merge that branch.


  • centerwindow : center new floating windows on the screen and center any window with a shortcut
  • fibonacci : adds fibonacci layout mode
  • initlayouts : define initial layouts for every desktop
  • monocleborders : adds borders to the monocle layout
  • nmaster : adds nmaster layout - multiple master windows for BSTACK and TILE layouts
  • rectangle : draws only a rectangle when moving/resizing windows to keep resources low (ie through an ssh forwarded session)
  • showhide : adds a function to show and hide all windows on all desktops
  • uselessgaps : adds gaps around every window on screen
  • warpcursor : cursors follows and is placed in the center of the current window
  • windowtitles : along with the rest desktop info, output the title of the current window

There is also another branch, called [core]. core is an even more stripped and minimal version of monsterwm, on top of which the master branch is built and extended.

The is also xinerama support for multiple monitors.

  • xinerama-core : the equivalent of core branch with xinerama support
  • xinerama-master : the equivalent of master branch with xinerama support
  • xinerama-init : configurable initial values for each desktop on each monitor
To install monsterwm with a patch simply change the
line on the PKGBUILD to the name of the patch.

If you installed monsterwm with method 2 - using git, you can change to the desired branch with

$ git checkout <branch>

and then continue normally. For example to build monsterwm with the 'fibonacci' layout one would do:

$ git checkout fibonacci
$ make
# make clean install

That way you can also combine patches. To do that one would merge another branch to the current one. For example to build monsterwm with 'uselessgaps', 'warpcursor' and 'showhide', one would do:

$ git config user.email <mailaddress>
$ git config user.name <name>
$ git checkout uselessgaps
$ git checkout warpcursor
$ git checkout showhide
$ git checkout master
$ git merge -m merge uselessgaps warpcursor showhide
$ make
# make install


Application Rules

One can define rules for a specific application, which will be applied once the application spawns. A rule is composed of four parts.

/* class      desktop  follow  float */
{ "MPlayer",     3,    True,   False },
  • the class or instance name of the application
  • the desktop in which the application should appear - index starts from zero/0
  • whether that desktop should be focused when the application is started
  • whether the application should start in floating mode

So the above rule, would place this to desktop Template:Keypress and change from the current desktop to that desktop, because follow is True. MPlayer will be tiled as every other window.

To get the application class or instance name you can use xprop . If the desktop is set to a 'negative' number then the window spawns in the current desktop.

If we change the above rule to this one:

/* class      desktop  follow  float */
{ "MPlayer",     -1,   True,   True },

then MPlayer will be spawned in the current desktop, floating.

Add Custom Keybinds

To add custom keybindings, you must edit config.h and recompile monsterwm. That's why it is important to set them up on the initial installation to avoid having to do this again. I'll show you a scenario in which you would need to add a keybinding to open the thunar filemanager with Template:Keypress.

First, you must add a line such as the following underneath the already-defined const char*'s (Note: You can name it whatever you want. In this case, I named it thunarcmd):

const char* thunarcmd[] = {"thunar", NULL}};

thunarcmd is just a title for the command you want to construct and run. Inside the curly brackets { and } is where you define the command to be executed. Each command fragment that is seperated by a space is it's own value. What I mean by that is that the command sequence ncmpcpp next would be entered as {{ic|{"ncmpcpp", "next", NULL}}}. The NULL value must be included at the end of each hotkey.

To actually register the hotkey with the window manager, you must look below that at the struct named {{ic|keys[]. This is where monsterwm stores all of it's keybindings. An example entry for the thunarcmd we made above would be:

{ MOD,     XK_t,     spawn,     {.com = thunarcmd}},

You can also use Template:Keypress which is the Template:Keypress or windows key instead of MOD.

  • The second element specifies the actual key that is pressed to differenciate it from other similar hotkeys.

In this case, we set it to Template:Keypress, which has XK_ in front of it because that's how Xorg reads key presses. Just remember to include XK_ in front of it and you'll be fine. Some examples of these include Template:Keypress for the Template:Keypress, Template:Keypress for the space bar, and Template:Keypress for the Template:Keypress. Note that these are case-sensitive, so Template:Keypress is not the same as Template:Keypress. So for this example, the entire hotkey senquence that needs to be pressed is Template:Keypress.

  • The third element just specifies the function spawn, which has been written to be passed a command to execute.

Whenever you need to start an application or do anything that is not related to the internals of monsterwm spawn will be used.

  • The final element inside the brackets specifies which command that was previously defined will be run.

In our case, it is thunarcmd[], so we would do {.com = thunarcmd}. The .com stands for command.

You can do the same with the buttons[] struct. The buttons struct, uses the mouse instead of the keyboard.

  • Button1 is the left button
  • Button2 is the middle click
  • Button3 is the right button

After this, recompile, hope for no errors, and install.

See also