nwm - node window manager
nwm is a dynamic window manager for X written at NodeKO 2011. It uses libev to interface with X11, and allows you to lay out windows in Node. I started writing nwm at Node Knockout 2011 (old repo), though it was not in the competition itself.
This is the repo you should watch/fork for future updates.
The underlying X11 bindings are written as a Node native extension in C++/C.
nwm is my primary window manager. You can give it a try as your primary as well, and report back bugs -- or nwm in a secondary X server using Xephyr.
I've recorded a video tutorial / walkthrough on Youtube (HD): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sihgPfBj6yE
I've now completed a fairly large refactoring of the codebase, splitting the window manager into a pure-C window management library which exposes a cleaner API. This library then has a small Node.js native binding in C++. A lot of complexity has been eliminated, leading to a smaller codebase, which makes me happy (~800 lines of C and ~300 lines of C++).
New features include:
- Node 0.6.6 compatibility. You can now build nwm under the newer Node.
- Window borders now have colors that indicate which window is focused. Still need to do some work on configurability here and note that this does not work with VMWare/VirtualBox because of a X server limitation (see 1 and 2). But it seems that ratpoison has a workaround which can probably be ported to nwm.
The next step is to simplify the JS binding further. I'm not quite satisfied with way monitors and workspaces are managed on the JS side, I think it can be made simpler. Pull requests are welcome!
- 4 built-in layouts (see screenshots below)
- Support for multi-monitor systems (via Xinerama)
- Support for workspaces (0 - 9 by default), each workspace can have its own layout
- Support for a "main window", allowing for dynamic resizing. Each workspace has its own main window scale setting.
- C++ API abstracts over X11 (w/libev) so you don't need to learn X11 just to customize your layout
- REPL, so you can issue commands to nwm interactively, or expose and control it over TCP/HTTP/whatever
You can use a 0.6.x branch, or a 0.4.x of Node. I'm generally using either 0.6.6 or 0.4.12. You should also install xterm via your package manager, since that's the default app launched from nwm.
NOTE: if you are switching from one Node version to another, I recommend deleting the ./build directory first (rm -rf ./build) before recompiling to avoid issues with node-waf.
node-waf clean || true && node-waf configure build
You may need the libev-dev packages (e.g. "/usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lev"):
On Fedora: sudo yum install libev-devel
On Ubuntu (10.4):
sudo apt-get install libx11-dev libxinerama-dev
sudo pacman -S xterm
On OSX: install XQuartz, then read the OSX specific instructions.
Installing as a primary window manager under Linux
Find out what your login manager is:
If it is GDM:
1: Create nwm.sh (and chmod +x it):
#!/bin/sh /usr/local/bin/node /path/to/nwm-user-sample.js 2> ~/nwm.err.log 1> ~/nwm.log
2: add the following as nwm.desktop to /usr/share/xsessions:
[Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Name=nwm Comment=This session starts nwm Exec=/PATH/TO/nwm.sh Type=Application
Select "nwm" from the Sessions menu when logging in.
Some tips for running nwm in a VM:
- If you use VMware Workstation, you have to start vmware-user manually for multi-monitor support via Xinerama after starting nwm.
- If you use VirtualBox, you have to use xrandr manually for multi-monitor support (e.g. xrandr --output VBOX0 --auto --left-of VBOX1).
VirtualBox sometimes gets your virtual screen sizes wrong. If this happens, you need to rerun xrandr, otherwise Xinerama reports the starting index of your second display incorrectly. You can see this by running xrandr:
VBOX0 connected 1440x900+0+0 0mm x 0mm VBOX1 connected 2560x1440+2560+0 0mm x 0mm !!!!
The display VBOX1 is marked as starting at x=2560 even though VBOX0 ends at 1440. This was because VirtualBox resized the VBOX0 screen incorrectly when you ran xrandr. This is a VirtualBox bug, not a nwm one.
Running under a secondary X11 server (Xephyr)
# start Xephyr Xephyr -screen 1024x768 -nodri -br :1 & # export gedit to the X server on display 1 DISPLAY=:1 gedit DISPLAY=:1 gnome-terminal # now start nwm.js on display 1 DISPLAY=:1 node nwm-user-sample.js
- Xephyr errors out under VirtualBox. You may need to start Xephyr with -nodri if you use VirtualBox with guest additions.
- You may have to Chrome start with --explicitly-allowed-ports=6000 for it to connect to some localhost ports.
Installing on OSX
Set nwm as the X11 window manager:
- Edit ~/.xinitrc to: "~/nwm/nwm.sh" (assuming that's where nwm is).
- Check/fix the paths in nwm.sh and start XQartz from Applications / Utilities.
- Check the settings under X11 / Preferences (these are just my recommendations)
- Emulate three button mouse
- Follow system keyboard layout
- Enable key equivalents under X11
- Option keys send Alt_L and Alt_R
- Click through inactive windows
- Focus follows mouse
- Focus on new windows
Fix the key bindings:
Unlike on other OS's, Apple has a ton of stuff bound to the Command (infinite loop thingy) key and removing those bindings is basically impossible (e.g. Command + Shift + q is a system key combination that cannot be altered). More discussion: http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/MetaKeyProblems
To work around this, map something else to Mod4, the default modifier key used by nwm. You can either edit the baseModifier variable in nwm-user-sample.js, or:
Run xmodmap, which will show what physical keys are bound to which modifier keys. nwm uses Mod4 by default.
clear Mod1 clear Mod4 keycode 66 = Alt_L keycode 69 = Alt_R add Mod1 = Alt_R add Mod4 = Alt_L
Here, I first cleared Mod1 (which by default had both Alt keys mapped to it, then changed Mod4 to left Alt and Mod1 to right Alt). You can run xev to interactively find out what keycodes are associated with what keys.
to change the keybindings (or close XQuartz and restart it). Alt + Shift + Enter now starts a new xterm instead of Meta + Shift + Enter - see the full keybindings further below.
Some extras (these just make the terminal a bit better):
~/.bashrc (color ls output, better prompt, import .profile):
alias ls="ls -G" export PS1="[\w]$ " source ~/.profile cd ~
XTerm*foreground: gray XTerm*background: black
Keyboard shortcuts and layouts
The keyboard shortcuts use a different base key combination depending on whether you are running nwm on Xephyr / running nwm as the primary WM.
Under Xephyr, the base key combination is Ctrl+Meta (e.g. Ctrl+Win). When running natively, the base key is Meta (Win). This is so that I can test nwm inside itself, yet have decent shortcuts:
# Launching programs Meta + Shift + Enter -- Start xterm # Switching between layouts Meta + Space -- Switch between tile, monocle, wide and grid layouts # Focus Meta + j -- Focus next window Meta + k -- Focus previous window # Main window Meta + h -- Decrease master area size Meta + F10 Meta + l -- Increase master area size Meta + F11 Meta + Enter -- Sets currently focused window as main window # Closing windows Meta + Shift + c -- Close focused window # Workspaces Meta + [1..n] -- Switch to workspace n Meta + Shift + [1..n] -- Move window to workspace n # Multi-monitor keys Meta + Shift + , -- Send focused window to previous screen Meta + Shift + . -- Send focused window to next screen
Writing new layouts and reassigning keyboard shortcuts
Have a look at the files in ./lib/layouts to see how a new layout can be implemented.
To customize the keyboard shortcuts, change nwm-user-sample.js.
For more extensive customization, see https://github.com/mixu/nwm-user which has a package.json file and hence makes it possible to git clone + npm install your window manager.
Vertical Stack Tiling (e.g. DWM's tiling)
Monocle (a.k.a. fullscreen)
Bottom Stack Tiling (a.k.a. wide)
Grid (a.k.a fair)
Using from the console
For now, the internal API is a bit messy, but you can use tab completion with the REPL to figure it out.