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This wiki page details installation and configuration of the PAWM window manager under Arch Linux.


PAWM is an X11 stacking window manager. It is a very small, fast, and simple window manager. It is based on Xlib and needs no other external libraries to compile it. It provides an initial windowing environment for minimalist desktops or for single use purposes such as:

  • A web browser terminal computer.
  • Testing gui based programs.

PAWM creation history

PAWM was written by David Gómez and Raúl Núñez de Arenas Coronado. PAWM was written with the objective of creating a tiny window manager that would execute any X application, but still keep it simple and intuitive to use.

PAWM stands for Puto Amo Window Manager[1].


Template:Package Official is part of the Arch [community] repository. To install PAWM, as root type:

# pacman -S pawm

Start PAWM with X as default

In order to run PAWM as your default window manager, edit the file Template:Filename (See xinitrc) so the final line is:

exec pawm

If you now type:


at the command prompt, X will start using PAWM for its window manager.

If you would like to configure X (and PAWM) to start on boot (or when you login) read the wiki page Start X at boot to find out how.

Configuration (making PAWM pretty)

By default, PAWM looks blue, plain and kind of dated. By editing the file Template:Filename you can customize the scheme of your PAWM.

Colors are changed through hexadecimal values. Fonts can be changed either through core fonts[2] or Xft fonts[3].

You may also adjust adjust the behavior of pabar, paicons, pashut icon or any modules added.


PAWM only supports .xpm format. Programs like GIMP can convert images appropriately.

  • Window icons must be 20x20 pixels.
  • Pashut icons must be 20x20 pixels.
  • Paicon icons may be of any size.

Any icons used in PAWM must be put in Template:Filename

Application Launcher

First, create a directory Template:Filename . This allows each user to have a unique application set.

There are 3 ways to launch programs in PAWM.

This article covers the third option.

Creating new Launcher files

Create a new file in the directory. For our example we will use the terminal emulator Sakura.

The filename must start with app with up to 20 characters after it.


Then take your favorite file editor and open the file. The launcher apps have 4 lines that need editing.

  1. The name of the image you want to use.
  2. The initial icon screen position. As you move it, PAWM will edit the X Y coordinates accordingly.
  3. Icon text. This is optional.
  4. Application binary. This can be either relative or absolute path.

The finished file will look like this:

40 40

When you next start PAWM your icons will be there. As well, any icon changes including position will be preserved.

Using PAWM

As PAWM is minimalistic, the controls are as well.

  • Double clicking a titlebar scrolls the window up or down respectively.
  • There are Minimize, Restore/Maximize, Close buttons.
  • You can drag windows around.
  • You can drag Launcher icons around.
  • Clicking on open applications on the PABar will minimize and restore.
  • Alt+Tab switches between windows.
  • Clicking on a Launcher executes the program.
  • Clicking on the power button brings up a dialog to quit PAWM.
  • Reloading PAWM refreshes any changes made.

PAWM Utilities

The following complementary packages can be found in the AUR.

  • Template:Package AUR A program that can be used for fast image and gradient setting. Good for Template:Filename
  • Template:Package AUR is a launcher program for X. You can bind it to a key in your favorite window manager. When you want to start a program, just type its name. thinglaunch has a tiny footprint and depends only on Xlib.
  • Template:Package AUR A simple python based utility for creating hassle free Launcher icons. It does not support custom icons.