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21 of the Best Free Linux Window Managers

21 of the Best Free Linux Window Managers

An X Window manager is software that manages the windows that applications bring up. For example, when you start an application, there will be a window manager running in the background, responsible for the placement and appearance of windows.

It is important not to confuse a window manager with a desktop environment. A desktop environment typically consists of icons, windows, toolbars, folders, wallpapers, and desktop widgets. They provide a collection of libraries and applications made to operate cohesively together. A desktop environment contains its own window manager.

There are three main types of window manager: Compositing, stacking and tiling. This article focuses on selecting the best managers that fit these three classes. Compositing window managers allow windows to be created and drawn separately and then put together and displayed in various 2D and 3D environments, whereas stacking window managers allow windows to overlap by drawing background windows first. The last type, tiling window managers, ensure that no window ever covers another.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 21 high quality free Linux window managers. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to have more control over managing their desktop.

Now, let's explore the 21 window managers at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Compositing
Compiz Fusion Adds more functionality to Compiz with more plugins, tools and libraries
Compiz OpenGL window and compositing
Metacity Small window manager, using GTK+2 to do everything
Stacking
Blackbox Similar to the NeXT interface and Window Maker
Fluxbox Highly configurable and low resource
FVWM Minimize memory consumption, provide a 3D look to windows, and a virtual desktop
Enlightenment Focuses on pushing the limits of existing technologies
Openbox Standards compliant, fast, light-weight, extensible window manager
Sawfish Extensible window manager using an Emacs Lisp-like scripting language
Minimalistic
IceWM Win95-OS/2-Motif-like window manager
Afterstep NEXTSTEP look and feel
Window Maker NeXTSTEP-like window manager
Pekwm Originally based on the aewm++ window manager
Tiling
Xmonad Minimalist, tiling window manager written in Haskell
Ratpoison Keyboard-only window manager
StumpWM Common Lisp window manager
wmii Lightweight tabbed and tiled
Ion Tiling tabbed window manager designed for keyboard users
Awesome Dynamic and tiling
dwm Dynamic window manager
Other
evilwm Maximises screen real estate and provides good keyboard control

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Last Updated Monday, March 31 2014 @ 01:09 PM EST


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