Window manager

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Not to be confused with display manager.


The window manager manages the creation, manipulation, and destruction of on-screen windows. Each system with an X server installed should have a window manager.


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

  • Stacking window managers behave analogously to pieces of paper on a physical desktop, they can be stacked on top of one another, with the one at the top of the stack being the one with which the user sees and interacts.
  • 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 are window managers that can dynamically switch between the previous two paradigms.

Available software

Here are some window manager packages available in Gentoo:

Name Package Homepage Description
aewm x11-wm/aewm 404 (bug #708484) A minimalistic, dynamic X11 window manager.
aewm++ x11-wm/aewm++ A dynamic window manager with more modern features than aewm but with the same look and feel.
amiwm x11-wm/amiwm A stacking window manager that resembles the Amiga Workbench user interface.
awesome x11-wm/awesome a highly configurable, next generation, dynamic window manager for X.
blackbox x11-wm/blackbox an open-source stacking window manager written in C++ and licensed under the MIT License
bspwm x11-wm/bspwm a lightweight, tiling, minimalist window manager that is written in C and represents its windows as leaves on a binary tree.
CTWM x11-wm/ctwm A lightweight, stacking window manager.
cwm x11-wm/cwm A lightweight, stacking window manager originally developed for OpenBSD.
dwm x11-wm/dwm a dynamic window manager for X11.
echinus x11-wm/echinus A lightweight tiling and floating window manager forked from dwm.
Enlightenment x11-wm/enlightenment an eye-candy, compositing and stacking window manager that is released under the permissive BSD License.
evilwm x11-wm/evilwm A lightweight, stacking window manager.
fluxbox x11-wm/fluxbox an open-source stacking window manager for X11 that was originally forked from Blackbox.
FVWM x11-wm/fvwm a stacking window manager for X11.
goomwwm x11-wm/goomwwm Get out of my way, Window Manager!
herbstluftwm x11-wm/herbstluftwm a manual tiling window manager for X11 using Xlib and Glib
JWM x11-wm/jwm an extremely lightweight window manager for the X window system.
i3 x11-wm/i3 a minimalist tiling window manager, completely written from scratch.
IceWM x11-wm/icewm a free and open-source, lightweight, stacking window manager for X11.
KWin kde-plasma/kwin KDE's compositing window manager.
larswm x11-wm/larswm A tiling window manager for X11, based on 9wm.
lwm x11-wm/lwm A 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 A simple dynamic window manager, with features nicked from ratpoison and dwm.
Mutter x11-wm/mutter GNOME's compositing window manager.
Notion x11-wm/notion A tiling, tabbed window manager for X11.
Openbox x11-wm/openbox a highly configurable, next generation, stacking window manager for X11 with extensive standards support.
oroborus x11-wm/oroborus A small and fast window manager.
page x11-wm/page A mouse-friendly tiling window manager.
PekWM x11-wm/pekwm A lightweight, dynamic window manager originally forked from aewm++.
Qtile x11-wm/qtile an open-source, tiling window manager that is written in and extended with the Python programming language
ratpoison x11-wm/ratpoison a tiling window manager modeled after screen.
Sawfish x11-wm/sawfish an extensible window manager using a Lisp-based scripting language.
Sith WM x11-wm/sithwm A minimalist window manager for X11.
spectrwm x11-wm/spectrwm A small dynamic tiling window manager for X11.
StumpWM x11-wm/stumpwm A tiling window manager written entirely in Common Lisp.
Subtle x11-wm/subtle A simple tiling window manager.
twm x11-wm/twm A simple stacking window manager started written in C.
WindowLab x11-wm/windowlab A small and simple window manager of novel design.
Window Maker x11-wm/windowmaker The fast and light GNUstep window manager.
wm2 x11-wm/wm2 a minimalist window manager for X11
Xfwm xfce-base/xfwm4 Xfce's compositing window manager.
xmonad x11-wm/xmonad a 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 a full and current list of window managers by issuing (requires app-portage/eix):

user $eix --category x11-wm

See also

  • Desktop environment — An article listing desktop environments available in Gentoo Linux.
  • Display manager — An article listing display managers available in Gentoo Linux.

External resources