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→ tiny and monstrous!

monsterwm is a minimal, lightweight, tiny but monstrous dynamic tiling window manager. It will try to stay as small as possible. Currently under 700 lines with the config file included. It provides a set of different layout modes (see below), including floating mode support. Each virtual desktop has its own properties, unaffected by other desktops' or monitors' settings. For screenshots and ramblings/updates check the topic on ArchLinux forums.


Monsterwm allows opening the new window as master or opening the window at the bottom of the stack (attach_aside)

Common tiling mode:

|        | W |
|        |___|
| Master |   |
|        |___|
|        |   |

Bottom Stack (bstack) tiling mode:

|           |
|  Master   |
| W |   |   |

Grid tiling mode:

|   |   |   |
|   |   |   |
|   |   |   |

one can have as many windows he wants. GRID layout automatically manages the rows and columns.

Monocle mode (aka fullscreen)

|           |
| no        |
| borders!  |
|           |

MONOCLE layout presents one window at a time in fullscreen mode. Windows have no borders on this layout to save space. See the monocleborders branch to give those windows borders.

floating mode

|  |        |
|--'  .---. |
|     |   | |
|     |   | |

In floating mode one can freely move and resize windows in the screen space. Changing desktops, adding or removing floating windows, does not affect the floating status of the windows. Windows will revert to their tiling mode position once the user selects a tiling mode. To enter the floating mode, either change the layout to FLOAT, or enabled it by moving or resizing a window with the mouse, the window is then marked as being in floating mode.

All shortcuts are accessible via the keyboard and the mouse, and defined in config.h file.

All desktops store their settings independently.

  • The window W at the top of the stack can be resized on a per desktop basis.
  • Changing a tiling mode or window size on one desktop doesn't affect the other desktops.
  • toggling the panel in one desktop does not affect the state of the panel in other desktops.

Panel - Statusbar

The user can define an empty space (by default 18px) on the bottom or top(default) of the screen, to be used by a panel. The panel is toggleable, but will be visible if no windows are on the screen.

Monsterwm does not provide a panel and/or statusbar itself. Instead it adheres to the UNIX philosophy and outputs information about the existent desktop, the number of windows on each, the mode of each desktop, the current desktop and urgent hints whenever needed. The user can use whatever tool or panel suits him best (dzen2, conky, w/e), to process and display that information.

To disable the panel completely set PANEL_HEIGHT to zero 0. The SHOW_PANELL setting controls whether the panel is visible on startup, it does not control whether there is a panel or not.

Here is a list of minimal and lightweight panels:

You can find an examples configurations of panels here. You can actually parse monsterwm's output with any language you want, build anything you want, and display the information however you like. Do not be limited by those examples.


You need Xlib, then, copy config.def.h as config.h and edit to suit your needs. Build and install.

$ cp config.def.h config.h
$ $EDITOR config.h
$ make
# make clean install


Some extensions to the code are supported in the form of patches. See other branches for the patch and code. Easiest way to apply a patch, is to git merge that branch.


  • centerwindow : center new floating windows on the screen and center any window with a shortcut
  • fibonacci : adds fibonacci layout mode
  • initlayouts : define initial layouts for every desktop
  • monocleborders : adds borders to the monocle layout
  • nmaster : adds nmaster layout - multiple master windows for BSTACK and TILE layouts
  • rectangle : draws only a rectangle when moving/resizing windows to keep resources low (ie through an ssh forwarded session)
  • showhide : adds a function to show and hide all windows on all desktops
  • uselessgaps : adds gaps around every window on screen
  • warpcursor : cursors follows and is placed in the center of the current window
  • windowtitles : along with the rest desktop info, output the title of the current window

There is also another branch, called [core]. core is an even more stripped and minimal version of monsterwm, on top of which the master branch is built and extended.

The is also xinerama support for multiple monitors.

  • xinerama-core : the equivalent of core branch with xinerama support
  • xinerama-master : the equivalent of master branch with xinerama support
  • xinerama-init : configurable initial values for each desktop on each monitor


For any bug or request fill an issue on GitHub or report on the ArchLinux topic


Licensed under MIT/X Consortium License, see LICENSE file for more copyright and license information.



tiny but monstrous tiling window manager







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