5 Great Tiling Window Managers for Linux

Desktop environments are great, but they’re not for everyone. Some people just can’t stand the bloat that these desktops bring. That’s where tiling window managers come in. Tiling window managers are usually the most favored out of all the window managers out there. They’re usually great when it comes to memory usage (which is a great option if you don’t have a lot of ram on your machine) and are almost always customizable. Tiling WMs don’t require a panel or anything fancy like that. Just install and start getting stuff done!

If you’re looking for a way to use Linux that is bloat free, tiling window managers might just be what you’ve been looking for.

1. i3

i3 is a dynamic tiling window manager. It has clean and fully documented code that makes it real simple to modify and tinker with. It supports xinerama and makes use of libxcb instead of xlib. With extremely easy to remember keybindings, using i3 is extremely enjoyable, even without the need for a mouse.


2. Ratpoison

Ratpoison is a simple window manager that has “no fat library dependencies”. The developers boast that it has no “fancy graphics” or “decorations” of any kind, just a straight-up tiling window setup. Ratpoison is easy to get around in. All of the interactions with your windows are done with keyboard shortcuts.


3. Awesome

Awesome has a unique take on the concept of a tiling window manager. It is probably the most user-friendly on the list. Much like i3, it claims to have well-documented code to make it very easy to dig right into for modifications. It adheres to FreeDesktop standards (Desktop notifications system, system tray, etc.) and has great keybindings which make navigating with it effortless.


4. DWM

DWM is, well, a dynamic window manager. Tiling isn’t the only way you can manage your windows. It’s also possible to lay the windows out in a floating or monocle style. All modifications to DWM can be done within its source code. Easy keyboard shortcuts allow for a great navigation experience while managing windows.


5. Xmonad

Xmonad is a tiling window manager written in Haskell. Like most (if not all) window managers, it comes with no frills or window decorations. The keyboard shortcuts are top notch. It works out-of-the-box and is very user friendly. On top of all that, Xmonad sports a fairly big extension library (which can add on even more functionality).



Tiling window managers are very cool. Admittedly, they do have a bit of a barrier to entry. Seeing as how (with most) you can’t just learn everything by exploring, you have to crack open the manual and learn how it works. For the most part, it’s great, but it takes a special kind of person to want to do that.

This way of using a computer is definitely niche. Still, it is by no means inferior. What these window managers lack in visual beauty,they make up for in functionality. Some users don’t want pretty. They want functional. Every single WM on this list delivers in that department.

Is your favorite Tiling WM not on this list? Tell us your favorite in the comments below!

Image credits: i3, Ratpoison, Awesome, DWM, Xmonad

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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