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 that work with X11 and are available in Gentoo. See x11-wm on, or use eix (app-portage/eix).

  Important note to editors
Window managers that work under Wayland should be added to the list of compositors. Window managers that work under X11 and Wayland can be added to both lists.
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.
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