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If you have used Linux for a while, you probably have a favorite Linux window manager. If you are new to Linux, you probably want to choose one. Whatever the reason, you should consider carefully the window manager you use.

Over time, it will become part of you. Something you desire to look at when you sit in front of your computer. Your home sweet home. Your place of refuge.

What is a Window Manager?

A window manager is a software that controls how windows are arranged and displayed on a screen. In short, it is responsible for the placement of your windows and the appearance of your graphical user interface (GUI).

A window manager controls the placement and appearance of windows within a windowing system. Linux provides a lot of customization. If you use the terminal frequently, having a good window manager is essential to your well-being.

It helps you be more productive, whether it’s for your work or if you’re doing it as a hobby.

There are many window managers available for Linux. Some are very simple while others are quite complex. The one you choose will depend on your needs and preferences.

There are three main types of window managers:

  • Tiling window managers
  • Floating window managers
  • Compositing window managers

Tiling Window Managers

A tiling window manager is a window manager that automatically arranges windows in a non-overlapping way, usually in a grid. This is in contrast to the more traditional floating window managers, which allow windows to overlap.

Tiling window managers are often used by people who need to be able to see and work on multiple windows at the same time. They are also popular with people who prefer a minimalist approach to their computing environment.

There are several tiling window managers available for Linux, including:

  • i3
  • dwm
  • awesome
  • xmonad
  • bspwm

Floating Window Managers

A floating window manager is a window manager that allows windows to overlap. This is in contrast to the more traditional tiling window managers, which automatically arrange windows in a non-overlapping way, usually in a grid.

Floating window managers are often used by people who prefer a more traditional approach to their computing environment. They are also popular with people who need to be able to see and work on multiple windows at the same time.

There are several floating window managers available for Linux, including:

  • Enlightenment
  • Mate
  • Cinnamon
  • Gnome 3

Compositing Window Managers

A compositing window manager is a window manager that supports compositing. Compositing is a computer graphics technique of combining an image from one layer with images from other layers.

Compositing window managers are used by people who need or want to use compositing features, such as transparency or 3D effects.

There are several compositing window managers available for Linux, including:

  • Compiz
  • Kwin
  • Mutter (Gnome 3)
  • Xfwm4 (Xfce)

Novice Mode

You can start slow with a more engaging graphical user interface (GUI) if you are new to Linux or window manager. As you go into the advanced user mode, the GUI becomes more of a burden, so it’s more efficient to get your work done.

KWin

If you prefer more of a graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Ubuntu Cinnamon, then KWin is the window manager for you. It is written in C++. It has the attractive windows that you see in Windows and Mac.

Window Maker

Window Maker is similar to the NeXTSTEP user interface developed by NeXT Computer in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Instead of the Microsoft Windows start menu style, you right-click on the desktop background to access the fully configurable main menu.

Intermediate Mode

In the advanced mode, you will need some programming experience. If you’re not ready to jump into advanced mode, you can use the window manager in the intermediate mode, giving a somewhat less obscure path.

Enlightenment

With Enlightenment, the configuration is done through the user interface. If you don’t have any coding experience but you have surpassed the novice mode, you can go here. It was initially released in 1997. It is written in C. You do a lot of configuration with the mouse.

Advanced Mode

Advanced mode is for professional users who have been working with Linux for a while. As you gain experience with Linux, you don’t care for the fancy menus and icons but prefer to get your work done. The desktop environment you see in Microsoft Windows is very limited.

Instead, it’s for users who like to work in the terminal and have the ability to customize their window manager.

i3

i3 is fast and clean. If you use the terminal frequently, I recommend it. You can customize the keyboard shortcuts and switch windows easily. It is written in C with a size of 1.2 MiB. This isn’t it if you’re used to the Microsoft Windows Start menu or Ubuntu Cinnamon desktop environment.

It’s more appropriate for advanced users since no GUI shows what applications you have installed and can run.

awesome

awesome is similar to i3 where it is highly configurable and fast. It’s designed for power users. It is written in C and Lua. It has a size of 842 KiB. If you like to be able to customize your window manager, this is another good one to use.

dwm

dwm is for hardcore fans of window managers who like to edit the source code. It is simpler than the other window managers, which means you probably like to change the window manager if you use it. It is written purely in C for performance and security. It has a very slim size of 20 KB.

What is Your Favorite Linux Window Manager?

Do you have a favorite Linux window manager?

Let us know in the comments!

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