Dynamic Window Managers

7 Best Free and Open Source Dynamic Window Managers

A 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 a few different types of window managers. This article focuses on dynamic window managers. A dynamic window manager is a tiling window manager where windows are tiled based on preset layouts between which the user can switch. Layouts typically have a main area and a secondary area. The main area usually shows one window, but one can also change the number of windows in this area. Its purpose is to reserve more space for the more important window(s). The secondary area shows the other windows.

The ratings chart below captures our recommendations. Only free and open source software is eligible for inclusion here.

Ratings chart

Dynamic Window Managers
XmonadMinimalist, tiling window manager written in Haskell
dwmManages windows in tiled, monocle and floating layouts
QtileFull-featured, hackable tiling window manager
spectrwmSmall dynamic tiling and reparenting window manager
LeftWMWindow manager for adventurers
awesomeHighly configurable, tiling window manager initially based on dwm code
wmiiLightweight tabbed and tiled

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