From ArchWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: Does not seem to build anymore[1] and all AUR packages have been removed (Discuss in Talk:Alopex)

Alopex (formerly, TTWM) is a minimal tiling window manager combining concepts or elements from tinywmAUR, dwm, and i3wm. Inspiration has also been drawn from other great tilers like monsterwm. It manages windows using tiling, horizontal or vertical stacking layouts with transient floating and fullscreen modes.

Note: This page will remain focused on Alopex 2.x until 3.x moves to a usable/testable state. From then on, this page will be edited to reflect documentation of the most recent version.


Installing alopex-gitAUR[broken link: package not found], from the AUR, is as simple as fetching the PKGBUILD and running the following:

$ makepkg -si
Tip: As configuration is done at compile-time, modifications (such as customized keybindings or colorschemes) can be achieved by moving a copy of config.h (from upstream) to $HOME/.alopex_config.h or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/alopex/config.h and editing it to reflect any user preferences. See #Custom Configuration

Recommended Reading

Alopex provides three manpages (alopex.1, alopex.config.5 and alopex.icons.5). They provide much more in-depth detail about much of the information on this page.

Note: As the manpages reach finalization, this page's information will be modified to reflect default settings and some clarification.

Basic usage

By Default, Alopex tracks the following four modifier masks:

Reference Key
KEY1 "Super"
KEY2 "Alternate"
KEY3 "Control"
KEY4 "Shift"

Launching programs

Dmenu is a useful addon to Alopex. As opposed to list-style or drop-down menus, dmenu is a type-to-complete program launcher. It is the recommended launcher for Alopex, and the default configuration maps running dmenu to KEY1 + p.

Note: The creator of Alopex has also made a very small, light-weight alternative to dmenu called interrobang. It can be installed easily using interrobang-gitAUR[broken link: package not found]. To replace dmenu with interrobang, read on how to customize keybindings in #Custom Configuration.

Using tags

To move or assign a window to a given tag, the intended window must first be focused. This can be accomplished by using KEY1 + j and/or KEY1 + k.

Action Keybind
View Tag "x" KEY1 + x
Move to Tag "x" KEY1 + KEY2 + x
Assign to Tag "x" KEY1 + KEY3 + x
Toggle Visibility of Tag "x" KEY1 + KEY4 + x
Note: As with dwm, Alopex makes a distinction between tags and views (workspaces). By default, Alopex has six tags enabled and two views available. You can switch between the two views using KEY2 + Tab. To better understand the difference and how you can arrange your workflow to utilize the difference, this article (written for dwm) may be helpful.
Tip: It is possible to customize how tags are labeled using a custom config.h and icons.h. See #Customizing Tags.

Window layouts

Alopex has three rule-based layouts complimented by transient fullscreen and floating modes: Vertical and Horizontal Stacking and "Monocle" (Full screen with statusbar tabs). By default, the vertical stacking layout will be used. Cycling through all three layouts can be done by pressing KEY1 + space. You can select each mode more directly with the following shortcuts:

Mode Keybind Windows visible Arrangement
V-Stack (rstack) KEY1 + KEY2 + r 3 Master on left, stack on right
H-Stack (bstack) KEY1 + KEY2 + b 3 Master on top, stack on bottom
Monocle KEY1 + KEY2 + m 1 Variable sized tabs for each window

Using the stackcount option, you can specify how many windows you would like to be visible in the stack. You can also use KEY1 + = and KEY1 + - to dynamically increment and decrement the number of visible windows in the stack (respectively). Furthermore, using KEY1 + . will keep all open windows visible.

Tip: You can toggle a window to and from Fullscreen mode by pressing KEY1 + f, and, similarly, you can toggle floating mode by pressing KEY1 + KEY2 + f.


Cleanly killing a window can be done by pressing KEY2 + F4. Cleanly exiting Alopex can be done by pressing KEY1 + KEY4 + Q.

Extended Usage

Custom Configuration

As mentioned previously, Alopex is almost entirely configured at compile-time via the editing of its source files, primarily config.h and icons.h. The upstream configuration provides sane defaults, but configuration per user-preference is easy to achieve.

As mentioned in #Installation, alopex-gitAUR[broken link: package not found] will check for $HOME/.alopex_config.h and $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/alopex/config.h, and, if either exists, use them to replace the default config.h before commencing the build. After using makepkg to grab the source, simply copy the config.h to either $HOME/.alopex_config.h or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/alopex/config.h and make your modifications.

Once the desired modifications have been made, return to the package directory and compile/install:

$ makepkg -si
Tip: If you have already compiled, you may need to use the f switch to force a recompile

Assuming the configuration changes were valid, the customized Alopex will have been compiled and installed. If problems were encountered, review the output for specific information.

For any changes to take effect, it will be necessary to (re)start Alopex.

Custom Keybindings

One of the main customizations that must be made in a custom config.h is the use of custom keybindings. To map a custom keybinding, add the necessary lines to the keys array using the following syntax:

{ MODKEY, <key>, spawn, CMD("program") },
Tip: To map a single key to a function (that is, without a modifier key), use 0 for MODKEY.

<key> can either be a hex keycode (e.g., 0x68) or an X keysym (e.g., XK_h). You can check for keycodes and keysyms by using xorg-xev. If you would like to use the XF86 keysyms (for instance, for media keys), you can do so, but you must have the following line uncommented in your config.h:

#include <X11/XF86keysym.h>

You can also define special functions for more complex commands by using #define:

#define FUNCTION "program -switches --options arguments"

which could then be mapped to a keybind using CMD(FUNCTION) in the above syntax.

Note: Using #define FUNCTION, you do not quote FUNCTION in the keybinding declaration.

Customizing Tags

It is possible, using the tagcons array, to customize how tags appear on the statusbar. By default, the default tags are named one through six. Using the tagcons array, you can have them appear with any combination of a prefix, an icon and a suffix. You can add, or customize tag appearances using the following syntax:

static const Tagcon tagcons=[] = {
   { "prefix",   #,   "suffix" },

With this syntax # refers to the position of the icon in the array at the bottom of icons.h; "prefix" and "suffix" refer to the labels of text given to the tag before and after the icon, respectively. If you do not want the tag to appear with an icon, replace # with NO_ICON or -1. If you would rather a tag appear without any label, replace "prefix" and "suffix" with NULL. The order each tag appears on the bar depends on the order in which they appear in the tagcons array.

Note: NULL should appear without quotes, whereas text prefixes and suffixes must be quoted.


By passing a script or program as an argument to Alopex, it can create a minimalistic statusbar. To avoid a CPU race, Alopex provides a default statusbar script if none is passed to it. This default script displays only a simple clock. For a more powerful statusbar, you can either write a script (or your own small program) or use a statusbar program such as conky. If the script (or program) you use takes arguments itself, remember to quote the whole statusbar argument. For example, the following commands would start Alopex with a script or conky (respectively):

$ xinit /usr/bin/alopex "/home/username/ -args"
$ xinit /usr/bin/alopex "conky -c /path/to/conkyrc"

To colorize parts (or all) of the output of the script, you can use {#RRGGBB} . "#RRGGBB" is a standard hex color code and using these in brackets will colorize everything on the statusbar following it until another color code is passed.

Custom Icons

As with config.h, Alopex supports custom iconsets using a customized icons.h which should be placed at $HOME/.alopex_icons.h or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/alopex/icons.h.

Icons, similar to the bracketed color codes, are referenced in the statusbar script or program using {i X} where "X" is the number of the icon. View the default icons.h to see which icons are available and what their value for X is (it is determined by the order in which each icon appears in the array at the bottom of the file).

Note: Because these icons are sourced at compile-time, any customization of the icon-set will require the user to recompile, reinstall and restart Alopex.


Alopex has support for rudimentary themes in the form of colorschemes applied at compile-time. These themes are defined in theme.h. By default, Alopex ships three themes, WinterCoat, SummerCoat and DayLight. Adding a custom theme is as simple as copying the default theme.h to $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/alopex/theme.h or $HOME/.alopex_theme.h and adding a new array with your desired colors. To select which theme to use, simply pass the environment variable MOLT defined as the name of your desired theme before makepkg. For example:

$ MOLT=DayLight makepkg -s

If no theme is explicitly selected, the WinterCoat theme will be applied by default.

Multi-Monitor Support

Alopex has experimental support for up to 16 external monitors using xrandr. Though auto-detection of external montiors is not yet supported, it is planned for version 2.1. Unlike with the internal monitor, Alopex handles windows with slightly different rulesets on external monitors. Each window is assigned a monitor number (in addition to tags/flags and other info). If the monitor number is higher than the number of available monitors, the window is placed on the highest numbered monitor, otherwise it is placed on the monitor matching its number. See the documentation in the manpages and in config.h for more details.

Window Rules

Alopex also has the ability to define limited window rules based on the resource name or class name strings from the client window's WM_CLASS property. You can modify, or add to, these rules by editing the rules array in config.h using the following syntax:

static Rule rules[] = {
   { "name",   "class",  tags,   flags },

You can replace either "name" or "class" with NULL to ignore those values in a given rule. If both are specified, then the rule will only apply if both conditions are met. To determine what values you should use for "name" or "class", you can use xorg-xprop. The value you give for tags allows you to specify what tags a window will be given by default when it opens. If you wish not to affect this behavior, use 0 in place of tags. Finally, the flags value allows you to specify special properties to be given to the window (e.g., force floating mode). If you wish to not affect this behavior, you can replace flags with 0. For further explanation, consult the manpages (See, #Recommended Reading).

See also