11 Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux

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Martins D. Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and programmer.

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17 Responses

  1. Vlatko says:

    Alas, I have to try tiling wms after this article. Distro hopping, DE hopping, WM hopping… Damn You GNU/Linux.

  2. Mats Rolfson says:

    qtile wasn’t qualified!. Why??

  3. Dave says:

    Tillix, tmux and jwm are not window managers per the title of this article.

    • Martins Okoi says:

      Because they don’t manage the windows of non-terminal apps?

      • shawn chain says:

        tilix is a multiplexing terminal, not a tiling window manager. tmux is a terminal multiplexer, not a tiling window manager either. jwm is a lightweight STACKING window manager. I guess you could call tmux a tiling wm for a console only system (along with gnu screen and dvtm), but that’s really stretching your definition, and the other two certainly don’t qualify.

  4. dragonmouth says:

    Why would I want to use a tiling WM rather than a more traditional stacking WM? From what I can see, they look simplistic and primitive.

    • Martins Okoi says:

      Because tiling can be a cooler way to organize windows

    • nico says:

      The visual appearance is certainly not the main draw. Tiling window managers main goal is the efficient organization of space, both in the sense of actual physical space on your screen, and also in the sense of conceptual space.

      When I talk of conceptual space, I mean the notion of organization of tasks. Tiling wms allow me to easily compare documents side by side, group collections of related tasks. and see exactly all of the information I need at the same time.

      For instance, I use a tiling wm at home, but at work I do not. At work I frequently find myself wanting to shift through a few different instances of file managers, each with a few tabs studying different parts of a file tree, or alternatively 4 or 5 terminal windows, also each tabbed up a few times.

      I find that I spend a lot of my time at work simply shifting through this mess, looking for the specific instance that I wanted, or carefully arranging windows so that I can compare 3 or 4 sources of information at once. At home, on my tiling wm, all of these issues are almost nonexistent. My work computer nearly drives me insane sometimes for this reason.

      Upon observation of other people using stacking wms, I found that most of them try to keep very few things running at once, and often close and reopen files several times in a session. They probably aren’t thinking specifically that they are avoiding my brand of chaos though: It is just a habit for them. Tiling wms got me out of this habit, because they make it unnecessary. Having 8 or 9 terminals going at the same time does not feel any more confusing than having one of them.

      Your complaint is somewhat valid: Tiling wms may well look simplistic and primitive. They are not about style, appearance, user friendliness or intuitiveness. They are about efficiency and functionality ONLY. While many see form vs. function as a sort of balance, often trying to find compromises that improve both together, tiling wms are about what happens when you attempt ONLY to optimize function and disregard form entirely. They are absolutely not for everyone, but some people (myself included) find it very hard to work without them.

      • dragonmouth says:

        “They are about efficiency and functionality ONLY”

        Only if you are used to them and fluent in their usage. For somebody who isn’t (like me), using them is very inefficient. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing anybody for using tiling wms. I just wanted to know what the allure was. Now I know. Different strokes for different folks.

      • Martins Okoi says:

        I concur!

    • Aldrin T says:

      What I actually love about tiling wm is the accessibility of workspaces.

      Most of the windows occupy the whole screen and do not if you open more than one window in a single workspace, but they do not overlap by default. So you can have a whole workspace just for your web-browser, a workspace for multiple virtual terminals that do not stack on each other, a workspace for an email client and some other workspace that do not do tiling and behaves like a traditional one.

      I have no idea what’s the use of overlapping windows though but if there’s an advantage in using an overlapping windows then tiling wm can do it too.

      The desktop is also much cleaner without icons and shortcuts scattered around. Even if you manage to keep it clean it’ll eventually become a mess.

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