Window manager

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Not to be confused with display manager.

A window manager manages the creation, manipulation, and destruction of on-screen windows and window decorations in Xorg.

Each X server installation should usually have a window manager. If a desktop environment is used, a window manager will generally be provided.


Windows managers can generally be dynamic, stacking, or tiling in their behavior.

  • Stacking (or floating) window managers have windows analogous to pieces of paper on a physical desktop, which can be stacked each on top of the others, with the one with which the user interacts on top of the stack, and totally visible.
  • Tiling window managers represent windows as tiles, or split views, with windows displayed next to one another, but with none of the windows overlapping.
  • Dynamic window managers can dynamically switch between the other two paradigms.

Windows managers can integrate a compositor, for buffering graphics before showing them, allowing visual effects, anti-flicker and other facilities.

Available software

This is a partial selection of window managers available in Gentoo. See x11-wm on, or use eix (app-portage/eix).

Name Package Homepage Description
aewm x11-wm/aewm 404 (bug #708484) Minimalistic, dynamic X11 window manager.
aewm++ x11-wm/aewm++ Dynamic window manager with more modern features than aewm but with the same look and feel.
amiwm x11-wm/amiwm Stacking window manager that resembles the Amiga Workbench user interface.
Awesome x11-wm/awesome Highly configurable, next generation, dynamic window manager for X.
blackbox x11-wm/blackbox Open-source stacking window manager written in C++ and licensed under the MIT License.
bspwm x11-wm/bspwm Lightweight, tiling, minimalist window manager that is written in C and represents its windows as leaves on a binary tree.
CTWM x11-wm/ctwm Lightweight, stacking window manager.
cwm x11-wm/cwm Lightweight, stacking window manager originally developed for OpenBSD.
dwm x11-wm/dwm Dynamic window manager for X11.
echinus x11-wm/echinus Lightweight tiling and floating window manager forked from dwm.
Enlightenment x11-wm/enlightenment Eye-candy, compositing and stacking window manager that is released under the permissive BSD License.
evilwm x11-wm/evilwm Lightweight, stacking window manager.
fluxbox x11-wm/fluxbox Open-source stacking window manager for X11 that was originally forked from Blackbox.
FVWM x11-wm/fvwm Stacking window manager for X11.
goomwwm x11-wm/goomwwm Get out of my way, Window Manager!
herbstluftwm x11-wm/herbstluftwm Manual tiling window manager for X11 using Xlib and Glib.
hyprland gui-wm/hyprland Hyprland is a highly customizable dynamic tiling Wayland compositor that doesn't sacrifice on its looks.
JWM x11-wm/jwm Extremely lightweight window manager for the X window system.
i3 x11-wm/i3 Minimalist tiling window manager, completely written from scratch.
IceWM x11-wm/icewm Free and open-source, lightweight, stacking window manager for X11.
KWin kde-plasma/kwin KDE's compositing window manager.
larswm x11-wm/larswm Tiling window manager for X11, based on 9wm.
lwm x11-wm/lwm Lightweight, stacking window manager.
Marco x11-wm/marco MATE's window manager, forked from Metacity, the window manager of GNOME 2.
matwm2 x11-wm/matwm2 Simple EWMH compatible window manager with titlebars and frames.
Muffin x11-wm/muffin Cinnamon's compositing window manager.
Musca x11-wm/musca Simple dynamic window manager, with features nicked from ratpoison and dwm.
Mutter x11-wm/mutter GNOME's compositing window manager.
Notion x11-wm/notion Tiling, tabbed window manager for X11.
Openbox x11-wm/openbox Highly configurable, next generation, stacking window manager for X11 with extensive standards support.
oroborus x11-wm/oroborus (link seems wrong, as of 2022-11) Small and fast window manager.
page x11-wm/page Mouse-friendly tiling window manager.
PekWM x11-wm/pekwm Lightweight, dynamic window manager originally forked from aewm++.
Qtile x11-wm/qtile Open-source, tiling window manager that is written in and extended with the Python programming language.
ratpoison x11-wm/ratpoison Tiling window manager modeled after screen.
Sith WM x11-wm/sithwm Minimalist window manager for X11.
spectrwm x11-wm/spectrwm Small dynamic tiling window manager for X11.
StumpWM x11-wm/stumpwm Tiling window manager written entirely in Common Lisp.
twm x11-wm/twm Simple stacking window manager started written in C.
WindowLab x11-wm/windowlab Small and simple window manager of novel design.
Window Maker x11-wm/windowmaker Fast and light GNUstep window manager.
wm2 x11-wm/wm2 Minimalist window manager for X11.
Xfwm xfce-base/xfwm4 Xfce's compositing window manager.
xmonad x11-wm/xmonad Fast and lightweight tiling window manager for X11.
feh and imv can be used for setting the desktop background for tiling window managers like i3.

See also

External resources