[Linux] Awesome Window Manager is a tiled window manager

screenAre you a fan of tiled window managers? This window manager might just be what you’re looking for. Awesome Window Manager is a highly configurable, tiled window manager for X11. It’s one of the most unique and interesting window managers on the market, but is it worth your time? Let’s find out.


Main Functionality

Awesome Window Manager is a highly configurable, tiled window manager for X11


  • Can be used and navigated about completely by keyboard commands
  • Complies to free desktop standards
  • Supports extensions via Lua
  • Tiled layout
  • Highly configurable and customizable
  • Uses tags instead of workspaces


  • Hideous and rigid
  • Tiled nature removes window decorations so applications in awesome look out of place
  • Not very intuitive
  • No workspaces


Awesome_Tilling_Window_Manager_by_nustyleThere’s a ton of different window managers for Linux but certainly not many like Awesome. Awesome Window Manager is interesting to say the least. Honestly, I can’t say that I enjoyed using Awesome Window Manager. I found it incredibly irritating and a pain to use. I really just did not enjoy almost anything about it. I really don’t understand why anyone would want to use it.

I usually like most window managers on Linux, but Awesome really just left a bad taste in my mouth. For starters, I couldn’t use it for my day to day tasks because the window decorations were non existent. If I have a pidgin message window open I don’t expect a rectangle of the screen to be taken up by it. I really just hated it to be frank.

Another thing that really irritated me was ‘tagging’. I don’t know what was wrong with the workspace concept, because I was pretty sure that everyone was in agreement that it was an efficient way of doing things. Tagging sounds like a great idea on paper. You simply mark all your applications for use in different tags, and when you want to access them, you just click on a tag. It wasn’t that it was bad, it was just that I really wasn’t a fan of how it ended up working.

One thing that I got from Awesome Window Manager was that it was very rigid. Everything is in squares. With WM’s like OpenBox you get a blank screen, you can add your own panel and if you right click you get an applications menu. Everything in Awesome is so sterile, so rigid and unwelcoming to me. It felt like I was supposed to fill it with terminal windows and start writing code. I know it’s a tiled window manager, but does that mean it shouldn’t be inviting at all?

Though I really dislike Awesome Window Manager in just about every way I can think of, I was pretty happy to see that it supported stuff like extensions. I don’t have an exact list of what they are, but it supports extensions via Lua. I’m always a fan of customization so it’s always a plus to see that there are many options that users can sort through to feel more at home. It’s a very configurable window manager, and it totally has it’s own niche audience. It sure wasn’t for me.


If you’re a programmer that needs a lot of windows open at one time, or your just a fan of tiled window managers, then you might be interested in Awesome Window Manager. If you are looking for a configurable and lightweight window manager, you’re better off going with Openbox. Openbox is a much more mature and better put together window manager.

Price:  Free

Version reviewed: 3.5.1

Supported OS: Any Linux Distro, BSD

Download size: 749 KB

Is it portable? No

Awesome Window Manager homepage

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  • jpridiculous

    Though not tremendously common, tiling wms are abundant and Awesome is not the only thing out there (for some others see: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Comparison_of_Tiling_Window_Managers). However, from the discussion above, I do believe you would dislike all of them.

    Tiling managers are very different from what most users are used to these days and as such it will have some growing pains. Some things should be mentioned up front:
    Tiling WMs:
    1. Are not for everyone
    2. Are “ugly”
    3. Have a learning curve
    4. Keyboard driven (primarily)
    5. Are fast
    6. Are Configurable
    7. Have floating modes (what most people think of as a window manager)

    Tiling managers are not for everyone. They do not specialize in eyecandy and as such are “ugly” to people who want eyecandy. Though, ugly is extremely subjective, it is not worth going into this point more than to say what many users say is “pretty” is just wasted screen space. Borders and decoration are merely regions of the screen that can’t be used.

    Tiling managers have a learning curve. Often this surprises the shit out if people who assume that WIMP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WIMP_(computing)) is the only way to interact with a computer. Typically this is because that’s all they have experienced.

    Points 3-6 are so closely related that it’s hard to separate them. It has a learning curve because it uses the keyboard and most users aren’t used to that, but this is what makes it extremely fast. Opening, moving, resizing, hiding, switching, moving things to workspaces, changing workspaces are all done with a few keyboard strokes with your hands never moving. This workflow can be extremely beneficial to programmers/nonprogrammers alike.

    There are very few keyboard commands that one needs to make a tiling manager useful, but needed they are:
    -toggle float / tile
    -cycle through layouts (how the tiles are arranged)
    -move a window around a layout
    -move a window to a different workspace
    – switching workspace
    -resize a window
    -close a window
    -shutdown window manager

    As far as tagging goes, it can be used exactly like the “workspace concept” you mention. Having the tag names: 1, 2, 3, … and then switching to a workspace with META-1, META-2, META-3, .. is no different than having “workspaces.” The difference comes in that they are more flexible in that you can assign the same window to any number of workspaces.

    If someone is going to try a tiling manager (and I hope they do because they are amazing), I suggest reading all of the keybindings in advance and possibly printing them out (if you think you might forget). Then get ready to relearn some things. As you get more comfortable with the keybindings your interaction will become blazingly fast since you do not have to constantly resize windows and move them around manually. Any up front time investment learning the tiling manager will be paid for hundreds of fold in just a couple months (not an exaggeration).