Compositing Window Managers

7 Best Free and Open Source Stacking Wayland Compositors

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 stacking Wayland compositors. We cover tiling Wayland compositors in a separate article.

A compositing window manager, or compositor, is a window manager that provides applications with a separate and independent buffer for each window. The window manager then processes and combines, or composites, output from these separate buffers onto a common desktop. It also controls how they display and interact with each other, and with the rest of the desktop environment.

Here are our recommendations. All of the software featured here is free and open source.

Ratings chart prepared by with our recommendations for stacking Wayland compositors

Let’s explore the stacking Wayland compositors at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Stacking Wayland Compositors
KWinWindow manager for the KDE Plasma Desktop
MutterWayland display server and X11 window manager and compositor library
Wayfire3D Wayland compositor, inspired by Compiz
hikariActively developed on FreeBSD but also supports Linux
labwcLab Wayland Compositor
EnlightenmentWindow manager and desktop environment
WestonLightweight and functional Wayland compositor
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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10 months ago

What about Hyprland?