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20 April 2021

Choosing the right tiling Windows Manager (WM)

I personally started using a tiling WM 15 years ago with AwesomeWM before moving to i3 and now dwm. Looks like to be a fairly common path to follow in the tiling WM world. Anyway, I found AwesomeWM to be a smooth move from a non tiling windows manager. It's easy to configure and allow a smooth transition while rebuilding your configuration to remove stuff now and then and become more and more a beard geek Haha (like you could use the workspaces more and more, remove the systray at some point, and even stop using the stupid minimized function...). Once, I felt I've reached the limit of AwesomeWM, or at least once I felt I was not using a lot of options (like the taskbar) I then moved to i3. I would consider it more minimalistic.

At that point, the pickiest of you will have noticed that actually i3 is a tiling WM while the others are technically dynamic WMs. With the latters, windows are tiled based on preset layouts between which the user can switch. Layouts typically have a master area and a slave area. The master area usually shows one window, but one can also change the number of windows in this area. The purpose is to reserve more space for the more important window(s).

Eventually, as said earlier, I ended up using dwm which use a quite different approach since your working directly on a config.h file before rebuilding dwm each time you change your configuration file. You also need to patch the code to add functions you want to use. This is not so hard but maybe not the best approach for a beginner. I would make the analogy that this WM is to the WM world what Arch is to the distros world (i.e. a bare bone tool which you have to configure to your liking).

A great comparative table of different tiling WMs can be found on the Arch wiki:


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