Home Linux Best 20 Linux Window Managers: A Comprehensive List for Linux Users

Best 20 Linux Window Managers: A Comprehensive List for Linux Users

Linux Window managers manage the system windows which bring up the application. Let us clear it with an example; when you usually start one application, you will get a manager for your window which usually runs in the background and for the appearance and placement, these are responsible.

In this piece of writing, we are going to get the basic ideas of the Top 20 Linux Window Managers that are easy to use yet quite powerful in their work.  

Best 20 Linux Window Managers


Do not confuse your Linux window managers with your desktop environment because the desktop manager is something that basically contains windows toolbars, wallpapers, desktop widget, folders and icons and these usually afford you a collection of applications and some libraries so that you can operate your computer in a cohesive way. The desktop environment has its own manager where compositing window manager will let the window to be drawn and created separately. Let us know the best Linux Window Managers and their basic features.  

1. i3


The thoroughly documented Linux Window Manager – i3 is entirely configurable. This manager can be configured in any way its user wants, from the placement of opened application to the custom keyboard shortcuts; it is configurable in every way. The plain-text configurations are effortlessly readable, and it does not need any Haskell or LUA.

The switching and managing of floating windows are also easy as it can be toggled with the help of $mod+shift+space.  There is no gad in the window, and the development process is sane where bugs are prevented, and the user can also use the terminal for getting notification of the completed actions.

2. Awesome WM


Awesome WM is one of the best Linux window managers that allow you to port the asynchronous XCB Library instead of the XLib. Multiples tags are allowed for keeping the workspace organized with the Awesome WM, and it is entirely extensible with the LUA. This can be configured, skinned and is keyboard friendly along with the feature of using shortcuts.

The default configuration of this is developed, and it supports multi workspace. Rearranging and re-sizing panels are also available via the mouse. The user can easily change anything while configuring it.

3. XMonad


XMonad is ideal for you if you want totally extensible in Haskell and you will not be limited in any pre-programmed action or layout rather you will be allowed to program anything into the configuration. The basic settings are easy to modify, and the codes are usually kept clean and safe. This is also light and fast, and you can go with this in any slow system.

XMonad

This minimal manager will lead you to crash-free experiences. Multi-monitor setups can also be handled by with this manager. This is a desktop perfect window manager, and you will get anything you need from the Contrib. modules.

4. Openbox


Openbox is very lightweight yet one of the well-known Linux Window Managers for your system. This will only use more or less 100MB of your RAM upon the boot. This is comparably stable and it affords more bug fixing and more testing behavior.

It is highly configurable and easy for carrying out. You can easily edit a few configuration files of this manager which will also go perfectly with the traditional desktop elements such as the bars, menu buttons, etc.

5. dwm


This Linux window manager is a sector of suckles suite, and it usually can encourage the user for configuring and extending it by the help of modifying the code. Basically, this window manager is kept under 2000 SLOC, and this is an exemplar of code which is highly readable and clean. dwm also very lightweight for your system, and the user properly knows the ways of its working. This is simple in design and is a manager of low-resource.

The straightforward configuration of dwm and the functionality and the key binding are incredibly well thought-out, and that makes it one of the best Linux window managers. There are shortcuts available such as the ALT+TAB.

You can use the paradigm design will help you grouping the clients or applications which can be pulled into the workspace. It will allow you getting multiple clients and will help you assign and reassign the tags. The status bar of dwm is informative which shows you the WiFi signal, WiFi strength, volume level, and the battery notification.

6. Gala


This Linux window manager works with the client-side decoration of Gtk. This is a uniformly designed manager and is sleek. Gala usually maintains a highly consistent tool as if follows the design guidelines of the elementary OS.

gala_wmThis is very easy to use for the beginners of Linux who have converted from the OSs’ legacy. Being incredibly configurable, Gala has shortcuts for the ease of use. The hot corners of this are helpful for multitasking or any custom commands. The four shortcuts that are super-easy are added with this too.

Animations and fancy effects are also allowed with this Gala. You will get the benefit of dynamic workspace management by adding or removing as per your requirement. Gala is extremely fast and usually works on some limited-resource hardware such as the Chromebooks or older netbooks. The stability is also excellent. It’s considered as one the mentionable Linux window manager for all time.

7. KWin


The impeccably configurable window manager – KWin can get adjusted with your requirements easily. The compositing manager is integrated, and you can change the way it performs by doing some easy works in the settings.

KWin

People of these days are moving towards the touch interfaces; this is still of the same DE that can be ideal for the desktop users. The interface is excellent and includes attractive effect for the desktop. The KWin also offers window shadows/glow or the wobbly windows.

8. Fluxbox


If you are searching for some best Linux window managers which are ultra-lightweight then Fluxbox will be one of the best bet for you. On any system, it will work fast. This is easy to operate for the users and configuration is easier.

FluxboxIt has its panel and also contains a set of wallpaper for making it the best window manager. The menu is simple and is mouse driven. Right-clicking will help you in pulling up the root menu.

With this Fluxbox, you do not need to know any programming language, and so it makes editing and managing the window straightforward. Including different themes and options for configuration, it also options for automated tiling.

9. musca


The interface of musca is intuitive. The defaults of this window manager are considered to be simple and easy to understand. This is also very space efficient as it has zero panels as the window decorations such as the tabs and icons can take up huge screen space, musca avoids this item (the installation of separate apps can also add these.) The grouping system of this manager is close to the virtual desktops.

The windows are basically placed in different named groups, and these can be very efficient if these are used identically to the virtual desktops. The user can add or remove the groups on the fly as every group will contain its frame layout. It supports multi-screen and can create groups automatically. It can handle the floating windows and contains bordered or highlighted frames.

10. spectrwm


This Linux window manager has incredible similarities with the Xmonad. It includes configuration of plain-text which can get reloaded during its running. This will allow the users to see the outcome of their configuration editing without logging out. The defaults are same, and any user can enjoy the simplicity of this Linux window manager.

spectrwm

It is very straightforward as it includes basic set as options and it does not require any kind of language during the configuration. Ideal for the beginners and offered with the support of built-in keyboard shortcuts, spectrwm will be the best bet if you are not familiar with the Haskell.

11. herbstluftwm


It is very easy to understand, and it can be reconfigured while it is running from the command line. What we mean to say is, if you want to configure herbstluftwm then you can do it live, you will not be required to boot in and out of your desktop.

The best part of this Linux window manager is that it offers an amazing combination of the automatic and the manual tiling and any user can set up auto-tiling for each app or they can any automated tiling application can be changed into manual tiling.

The herbstluftwm uses a bash script for configuration which is straightforward. In different frames, the user can use different layouts, and they can also customize the layouts on the fly according to their own liking. It also provides you the support of multi-monitor, and so you are not usually forced to use one monitor. All these features and simplicity makes it one of the best Linux window managers.

12. Enlightenment


Are you a newbie? If you are then this is the best Linux window manager for use as it does not require any programming experiences from you to configure the environment. With this, the configuration is done through a User Interface, and so if you do not have any coding knowledge or editing experience even then, you can go for this.

Enlightenment

You can get it themed effortlessly according to your liking, and you also get the opportunity to include one optional compositor. Enlightenment affords you virtual desktop previews which will be within the desktop widget, and it can switch the desktop within its own thumbnails. Mouse driven menus are very quick, and Enlightenment is very fast and ideal with the battery life for laptops.

13. JWM


JWMJWM is extremely lightweight and can be used as default manager in the Puppy Linux. This is ideal for any older machine also. Menus usually get loaded faster than any other Linux window managers. This is easy to customize and configure. You will not require knowing a programming language to operate this.

14. Window Maker


Window MakerThe design of Window Maker is similar to the NeXT’s GUI, and the user will find it fun to work with it. This is very lightweight and elegant. This window manager is extensible with the dock-apps also. Bugs will be bashed easily if you are using Window Maker.

15. IceWM


IceWM is one of the lightweight Linux window managers and very small for the system to bear. This app is extremely fast and can be easily operated with the keyboard. You will get keyboard shortcuts for the ease of use. This highly configurable manager has so many options for configuration. Incredible themes are afforded with it. It supports multi-monitor also used less of your memory.

16. Pantheon


Pantheon WMFor the people who are beginners in Linux can settle on this manager as it is made for the people who have experience in macOS. Pantheon has a modern look with a sleek design. It shows you the dock area that is used and opened most. The application list can easily be restored categorically or alphabetically with it.

17. XFWM


XFWMThe compositing manager of XFWM is integrated, and you can tear the screen easily. This manager has got built-in options so that you can snap window. It includes incredible theme support and creating themes are very easy with this manager. You can also select to open windows exactly at the edge or center of your screen. It is desktop independent and also very lightweight.

18. Ratpoison


Ratpoisom is simple in term of configuration. It will require you less configuration as it has straightforward structure. The mouse interaction will be very little if you go for this window manager as it supports keyboards. You will also get the opportunity to use multiple desktops as it supports it. Online documentation is considered to be amazing with Ratpoison.

19. Compiz


The cube desktop will deem appealing to the users with this Compiz Manager for your Window. The other options along with the visual effects of Compiz are highly interesting. This manager is extensible. It has got plug-ins with which you can alter its behavior by enabling and disabling it. The configuration is easy. The customizing process is also very straightforward.

20. Wayland


Wayland WMThis window manager has no drawing APIs. The users of Wayland usually get a DRM buffer handle that works as a pointer to the graphics memory. It basically copies the buffers of the client on the screen. Wayland will remove a lot of complex facts and will make the work easy. It basically works by simplifying the graphics stack. This manager will manage the compositing work by itself.

Final Words


The basic types of Linux window managers consist stacking, tiling and compositing. Compositing takes care of the 2D and 3D environments and the Stacking will let the windows overlap by the drawing background windows. Here, tiling makes sure that another window will cover no window.

We have talked about all the details of the best Linux window managers of these days; it is up to you which one you will choose. Before choosing, know your own requirements. And do not forget to share your experiences with us. Do share our reviews with your friends to let them know.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’m also running Xfce/Xfwm and i think it’s definately one of the best Desktop Environments/Window managers. I’m quite stunned Xfce/Xfwm is not part of the list, as it’s one of the most popular ones.

  2. I spent about 15 hours over two weekends sifting through Linux Desktop Environment reviews, then Linux Windows Manager reviews, and trying a bunch of combinations. Yes, the choices can be dizzying to say the least. I tried to be as objective as possible, but ultimately I know my experience is subjective, because it’s based on my priorities. My priorities, based on having a 10-yr old Dell Inspiron, with a 2.0ghz dual-core processor, and only recently upgrading from 3gb to 6gb of RAM (and I like to have a lot of browser tabs open at once when I’m doing research), were to first-off have a very light setup. Secondly, I wanted a desktop, panel, and menu that looked and operated reasonably well. And lastly, I wanted the menu to be searchable if I didn’t have to give up too much RAM to get it. I had been running LMDE 64-bit for about 4 years and was not happy with it currently booting up needing 605mb of RAM once fully loaded. My goal was to get that cut in half to 300mb, so my boot-up was at 5% of my total RAM.

    Quick Synopsis:
    After partitioning my HD, I loaded 7 DE’s to compare: Manjaro, LMDE, MX, Deepin, Debian, Lubuntu, and Sparky. I had already decided against KDE since it used over 600mb when I tried it out earlier. In descending order, this is how much RAM my computer used after bootup of each one using their standard Windows Managers:
    LMDE 605mb
    Manjaro 565mb
    Deepin 532mb
    MX 380mb
    Sparky 370mb
    Lubuntu 330mb
    Debian 320mb

    From that list, I decided to narrow it down to the ones under 400mb: MX, Sparky, Lubuntu, and Debian, but after playing around with each, I liked MX’s additional programs and features the best, so although not the absolute lightest, I was willing to give up 60mb for its features.

    Next, I loaded a boat-load of Windows managers into the MX distro: i3, Awesome, Xmonad, Lxde, Jwm, Icewm, Fvwm, Dwm, Fluxbox, Lxqt, and Enlightenment. Without going into all the details, I played around with all of them and came up with this conclusion:
    1. IceWM — 200mb — Lightest WM with comfortable features and functionality
    2. Lxqt — 320mb — Lightest WM with a searchable menu
    3. Xfce4 — 380mb — Standard MX WM, and a little smoother and more visually appealing than IceWM and Lxqt.

    Conclusion:
    I have decided to run MX Linux with the standard Xfce4 WM as my main setup, at 380mb. Not quite the 300mb @5% of RAM that I had hoped for, but 380mb @6.3% of RAM is still quite good. If I know I’m going to be opening a lot of programs and will be pushing my RAM into the Swap partition, I know I have Lxqt or IceWM installed and ready to accommodate the situation, and frankly, I’d probably skip Lxqt and just use IceWM if I felt I needed the additional 180mb of available RAM.

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