Tiling WMs

I’m just getting into them and have landed in i3 while using it for about a week. Honestly having a great experience figuring out the work flow, and I confident it has increased my efficiency, not surprisingly from the theory behind it. Started with AwesomeWM and probably would still be using it if it weren’t for an unrelated issue that resulted in my nuke and pave to another instance of ArcoLinux with i3. I know there are differences between them, but I’m not privy to them.

Does anyone else use a tiling wm? Which ones have you used? Favorites? Why?

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I currently use i3-gaps. It’s just the same as i3wm, except that you can set keys to add gaps between the windows.

My entire desktop environment consists of i3-gaps, Polybar for a panel, dmenu for my menu, and xfce-polkit for an authtentication agent.

I have yet to try any other tiling window manager. I like this one because it allows good layouts for development, and still allows me to use floating windows when I want.

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I use i3-gaps on Manjaro. Very nicely assembled community edition. I use rofi as dmenu because it can show app icons and recognizes flatpaks/snaps/appimages automatically.


I only tried i3.
I used dwm and spectrwm on my retired laptop. They are my two favorite dynamic window managers of all time. Why? Because they are simple. Dwm has to be recompiled every time you change the config, funny, but it works great. Spectrwm is configured in just a plain text file.

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Sway on Fedora using a shell script for the launcher and alacritty. (reference from here, Wayland menu for Sway? · Issue #1367 · swaywm/sway · GitHub)

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I love using i3 on low end machines, especially if screen isn’t big either. I spent a lot of time on it, back when I was using my old laptop.

On my main machine however i use standard kwin, which is part of Plasma. I do think about either replacing it with something or adding i3-like scripts, but never really got into it and I don’t have time to play with it.


I second the praise for dwm. You should also check out some of the developers other software as well @ https://suckless.org Surf is a great for productive browsing once you get it configured and ST is a nice terminal as well. They all take configuring and recompilation but, they are simple, reliable and worth the effort. Right now I am using Sway (which is an i3 clone for Wayland) to test out Wayland again and it has been pretty problem free so far. The last time I used Sway, there were quite a few issues including stability and I am please to see the progress of both Sway and Wayland this time around.


I3 is my main wm for my laptops. I would like to dip my toes in bspwm but I’m too dug in to i3 to starting adapting again

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Definitely. Great place.

Listening to the Choose Linux podcast today, they mentioned tiling WMs. I know System76 is introducing a tiling WM (Pop Shell) in their 20.04 release. I must admit I’m not familiar with the use case for these. I’ve just traditionally stacked my windows or had a large enough monitor that I had windows spread out. Gnome’s task switching isn’t ideal but I’ve dealt with it reasonably well.

So as a non-tiling person - what benefits do tiling WMs give a person?

I’ve played with a bunch of them and i3 seems to have the lowest barrier to entry. There are many distros that provide a nicely configured i3 experience (Manjaro, ArchLabs, Regolith) so that you aren’t thrown in the deep end. Many other TWMs are also good. I just think i3 might be a good place to start.

It’s a pretty specialized thing. I don’t see them as a direct replacement for general-use desktop use. You have to have a reason to need the efficiency and other benefits to take the time to earn and adapt. Some common use cases might be system admin tasks where you are monitoring many things in various terminals or other minimal UI apps and want them perfectly spaced on your screen. Software development, scientific computing and single-purpose machines come to mind as well. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try it or use it for general use but I will say that you might struggle to use apps intended to run as windows in the more rigid structure of a tiling desktop. Most twm’s will let you put an app in window mode if you need to but it kind of defeats the purpose. One man’s opinion of course.

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I use TWM’s on all of my machines. I currently run i3-gaps on my main desktop and bspwm on my laptop. Once you get used to the workflow, it becomes second nature and stacking WM’s get annoying.

i3 and herbsluftwm manually position window tiles (they will keep popping up in a direction until you tell them otherwise) whereas bspwm and awesomewm open tiles in specific patterns. I do like bspwm as it separates the config files (autostart.sh, bspwmrc, & sxhkdrc - programs that launch at log in, the window behaviors and keyboard shortcuts, respectively) as opposed to i3 which lumps everything together in one config file.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just the ones I have personally used. I would switch my main from i3 to bspwm, but I haven’t figoured out how to save/load window layouts in bspwm yet.

I use i3-gaps on Arch. Faster than running any tiling app like Pop Shell in Gnome because not running gnome really does a lot for speed.

Like Eric said, its about efficiency. Once you get good with it, you realize how much time you spend moving windows about. For me, dwm puts the windows exactly where I like them, and I can move them about quickly. Once you go Tiling WM, you won’t go back…

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I tried to get dwm working on my Manjaro system the other day but couldn’t switch window managers because apparently I"m too big of a newb. As far as I can tell I’m supposed to simply set my .xinitrc to ‘exec dwm’ but that didn’t seem to do anything. Most of the guides that i see for it online assume you don’t already have a DE installed.

I tried a tiling windows manager for the first time in Windows 1.4 (~1990) and I was very happy, when I could move to Windows 3.0. For me a tiling window manager is just a refurbished idea from Bill Gates :slight_smile:
However for the terminal I like this type of functionality, so I do use Tilix.

TWMs are refurbished from Xerox. Bill Gates stole it from them.

Released Manjaro-Bspwm 20 today, give it a spin if you’re a fan of tiling wm’s


Are you using a login manager like lightdm or sddm on your mangaro system? If so, you need to create a dwm.desktop file in the right place so you can select dwm from your login manager. ~/.xinitrc is used with the startx command inside of a tty without a login manager.

If you are interested in getting dwm set up, send me a private message and we can debug from there.

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I used i3 for 8+ years and changed to sway around one month ago since I wanted to run wayland. I am very happy with waybar (status bar) and wofi (application launcher) as they are both very customizable. The only caveat is that screen-sharing is difficult under wayland (for example you can only share one full output at a time, but not the whole desktop nor a single application window).