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Ulubis in action

Ulubis is a Wayland compositor written in Common Lisp. It is inspired by FVWM and StumpWM. The idea is that it is easy to hack on, customise, define your own interaction modes, etc. (see alt-tab-mode.lisp as an example of defining a custom mode)

Using SLIME you can connect to the running compositor and modify its behaviour live.


(I currently call it a compositor intentionally...let's get a bit more window management functionality in before calling it a WM)

Installation of ulubis

  • Ensure you have SBCL and Quicklisp installed.
  • Build ulubis / ulubis-sdl
git clone --recurse-submodules
cd ulubis
cat build-ulubis.lisp | sbcl

Running ulubis

To run ulubis the user must be a member of the input and video groups. Navigate to a virtual terminal and run

> ulubis

For the SDL2 backend simply run ulubis-sdl when in X.


Ulubis looks for the file ~/.ulubis.lisp and loads it if it exists.

An example configuration is as follows:

(in-package :ulubis)

(if (string-equal (symbol-name ulubis-backend:backend-name) "backend-drm-gbm")
      (setf (screen-width *compositor*) 1920)
      (setf (screen-height *compositor*) 1080))
      (setf (screen-width *compositor*) 1400)
      (setf (screen-height *compositor*) 900)))

(set-keymap *compositor* "evdev" "apple" "gb" "" "")

(defun startup ()
  (swank:create-server :port 4005 :style :spawn :dont-close t)
  (swank:set-package "ULUBIS")

  ;; Make the default screen
  (make-screen 'virtual-desktop-mode)
  ;; Add 4 views (virtual desktops) using the desktop-mode as default
  (loop :for i :from 0 :to 3
     :do (push-view 'desktop-mode))
  (setf (active-surface (screen *compositor*))
	(first (surfaces (screen *compositor*)))))

Hacking on ulubis

Download ulubis and its dependencies to quicklisp's local-projects/ dir and hack away, rebuilding the executables as per installation.


All glory to our lovely contributors, please join us:

  • naryl very kindly added a nicer cursor using cairo
  • cbaggers very kindly updated various bits and pieces to use the latest CEPL tech


Ulubis is known to work with sbcl and ccl. I have only tested it on two machines which Intel graphics chips, please get in touch if it does / doesn't work with Nvidia or AMD cards. It is very alpha.


The vague roadmap for ulubis is as follows (not necessarily in order):

  • Add screenshotting
  • Wallpapers
  • Add (an at least rudimentary) menu system
  • Server-side decorations
  • Add screen locking
  • Add video capture
  • Support multiple monitors
  • Support more Wayland clients (a web browser would be very nice)
  • XWayland support
  • Potentially define custom Wayland protocols for ulubis (maybe you want to replace a built-in menu with your own menu written in QML)


Ulubis depends on:

Ulubis has two backends: ulubis-sdl (an SDL2 backend) and ulubis-drm-gbm (a DRM/GBM backend). The DRM/GBM backend is intended to be the backend whilst the SDL2 is intended for testing on X.

The DRM/GBM backend depends on:

The dependencies for the SDL2 backend are: