The 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 window managers

Package-Name Homepage / Source-Repository Description
awesome https://awesomewm.org/ Highly configurable, next generation, dynamic window manager for X.
blackbox https://github.com/bradleythughes/blackbox Free and libre stacking window manager written in C++ and licensed under the MIT License.
bspwm https://github.com/baskerville/bspwm Lightweight, tiling, minimalist window manager that is written in C and represents its windows as leaves on a binary tree.
cwm https://cvsweb.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/xenocara/app/cwm/ Lightweight, stacking window manager originally developed for OpenBSD.
fluxbox http://www.fluxbox.org Free software stacking window manager for X11 that was originally forked from Blackbox.
fvwm http://www.fvwm.org/ Stacking window manager for X11.
herbstluftwm https://herbstluftwm.org/ Manual tiling window manager for X11 using Xlib and Glib.
jwm http://joewing.net/projects/jwm/ Extremely lightweight window manager for the X window system.
i3-wm https://i3wm.org/ Minimalist tiling window manager, completely written from scratch.
icewm https://ice-wm.org/ Free and libre, lightweight, stacking window manager for X11.
notion http://notion.sourceforge.net/ Tabbed and tiling window manager.
openbox https://github.com/danakj/openbox Highly configurable, next generation, stacking window manager for X11 with extensive standards support.
pekwm https://pekwm.org/ Lightweight, dynamic window manager originally forked from aewm++.
ratpoison https://www.nongnu.org/ratpoison/ Tiling window manager modeled after screen.
sawfish https://sawfish.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page Extensible window manager using a Lisp-based scripting language.
twm https://www.xenocara.org/ Simple stacking window manager started written in C.


This wiki article is based on information from Gentoo and Wikipedia.