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Ratpoison is a minimalistic windowmanager which can be controlled 100% through keyboard. It behaves like the terminal-multiplexer GNU screen. Every window is maximized to fit the whole screen, no pixel is wasted on stuff like borders or other decoration. The user can also "split" the screen into two or more frames in order to display more than one window at the time. For more information check the official homepage at http://www.nongnu.org/ratpoison/


Ratpoison is part of the 'extra' repository. So a simple

pacman -S ratpoison

should do the trick.


To use ratpoison as your windowmanager, you have to create/edit the file ~/.xinitrc.

Example .xinitrc:

# the black/white grid as background doesn't suit my taste.
xsetroot -solid black
#fire up ratpoison!
exec ratpoison

Using Ratpoison

After X11 starts up you will see a black screen and a little textbox on the upper right of it that says "Welcome to Ratpoison" :) Now type CTRL+t and then '?' to get a list of keybindings. If you are used to GNU screen, you will feel at home very soon.

You are able to define custom keystrokes and even override existing ones in ~/.ratpoisonrc


# overriding CTRL+t 'c' to start aterm instead of xterm
bind c exec aterm
bind f exec firefox

So, if you type CTRL+t and then 'f', ratpoison will fire up firefox.

Here is another .ratpoisonrc i'm using on my Computers:

exec xsetroot -cursor_name left_ptr
startup_message off

escape C-z

# make a screenshot
alias sshot exec import -window root ~/screenshot-`date +%F`.jpg
definekey top M-C-Print sshot

#virtual desks
gnewbg one
gnewbg two

definekey top M-l exec ratpoison -c "select -" -c "gprev" -c "next"
definekey top M-h exec ratpoison -c "select -" -c "gnext" -c "next"

#switch between windows
definekey top M-j next
definekey top M-k prev

unbind c
bind c exec urxvt -tr
#bind c exec aterm

bind g exec gftp
bind f exec firefox2

Some More Useful KeyCombos

Example: Start any program

C-t ! <Program Name> 

Execute RatPoison Command

C-t : <Command>t!

Quit RatPoison

C-t : quit  

Move through Windows

C-t p //previous window
C-t n //next Window
C-t TAB //quickly move through windows
C-t w //List of windows 

Closing windows

C-t k  //when window is in focus 

Opening a new tab in some application

C-t t //Eg. New tab in firefox

Splitting and unsplitting windows

C-t s //Split horizontally
C-t S //split Vertically
C-t Q //Unsplit windows
C-t <Arrow Keys> //move between split windows


The Ratpoison Wiki

Have fun!