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In the past, I've tried several different tiling window managers, but never could quite get my head around such a different way of handling windows. Two currently popular options that ...
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  1. #1
    oz
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    Tiling Window Managers


    In the past, I've tried several different tiling window managers, but never could quite get my head around such a different way of handling windows. Two currently popular options that I'm experimenting with now are:

    Awesome Window Manager

    i3 Window Manager

    Both are easy to configure and they do their jobs quite well, and you can see by checking the screenshots on their respective websites that they look great. While the concept behind tiling windows managers makes plenty of sense to me, the use of other window managers such as Openbox, IceWM, and PekWM for so many years has made it difficult for me to adjust to the tiled windows method.

    Have any of you tried either of these window managers or any other tiling window manager that you think highly of, and if so, do you have any tips for using and getting comfortable with them?
    Last edited by oz; 12-20-2012 at 05:52 PM. Reason: reworded
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    What I love about tiling window managers is that it really brings home the idea of "tools, not policy" and "every program does one thing and does it well." Too many applications rely too heavily on tabs and dialog boxes and tool panels to present the user interface to people. I see elaborate IDE's, office productivity suites, e-mail and calendar apps, and media players all re-inventing tiling windows into their own applications because the currently most popular paradigm of managing windows has unfortunately copied the most inept operating system in history (WIndows 95).

    It would be great if more people took the tiling approach, and relied on standardized formats like XML or OpenDoc to transfer data between applications. For example, you shouldn't have to use Word for composing documents, and Thunderbird for composing e-mail. Just use an editor and use it your main window, and if it is an e-mail bring up the contacts window and the "send mail" window, tiling them around your letter. If it is a blog post, bring up the rich-text editing window.

    If you are into the Haskell programming language, Xmonad is a good choice. You can configure it using the Haskell language, and it just re-compiles the window manager binary every time you re-configure. Some people think this is ridiculous, but I guess the logic is, why bother with Lua or some other interpreter just to configure the thing when you have Haskell.

  3. #3
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ramin.honary View Post
    Wthe currently most popular paradigm of managing windows has unfortunately copied the most inept operating system in history (WIndows 95).
    And there speaks a man that has never used Windows ME

    I've often thought of giving a tiling window manager a go but never have. I can see advantages to them but also a steep(ish) adaptation curve. Maybe one day eh?
    "I used to be with it, then they changed what it was.
    Now what was it isn't it, and what is it is weird and scary to me.
    It'll happen to you too."

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    I am using awesome currently since Gnome3 does not work correctly with 3 monitors using two graphic cards, gnome3 does not work good with two screens either, but that`s a different story.

    About getting comfortable I would just print out some cheat sheet for the WM and have it next to you when you use it, read through the commands test them out and then the WM should become more and more natural to use.
    If not, change and use something else

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    oz
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    Thanks for the comments, guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by ramin.honary View Post
    If you are into the Haskell programming language, Xmonad is a good choice. You can configure it using the Haskell language, and it just re-compiles the window manager binary every time you re-configure. Some people think this is ridiculous, but I guess the logic is, why bother with Lua or some other interpreter just to configure the thing when you have Haskell.
    Xmonad was one of the first that I took a look at, but upon discovering that it uses Haskell, I had to stop because I have no knowledge whatsoever of Haskell. Still, I'd like to experiment with it and will do so if my Haskell skills ever get off the ground. The concept behind tiling windows makes plenty of sense to me, so I feel sure that it will become easier if I continue to work with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by elija View Post
    I've often thought of giving a tiling window manager a go but never have. I can see advantages to them but also a steep(ish) adaptation curve. Maybe one day eh?
    You might give i3 a spin. It configures with a text file so isn't too difficult, but when you do fire up a tiling display for the first time, it kind of throws you for a loop because all those windows that you are used to having the same size each time they open are suddenly sized differently, depending on where they open. My own tiler configs definitely need some additional tweaking to minimize any confusion on my end.

    Quote Originally Posted by sverre View Post
    I am using awesome currently since Gnome3 does not work correctly with 3 monitors using two graphic cards, gnome3 does not work good with two screens either, but that`s a different story.

    About getting comfortable I would just print out some cheat sheet for the WM and have it next to you when you use it, read through the commands test them out and then the WM should become more and more natural to use.
    If not, change and use something else
    I'm not a fan of Gnome3 so I'm running Awesome (my favorite so far) and the others as a standalone window managers. Yes, I did create cheat-sheets right away, and would have quickly abandoned tiling managers without them. I do think the persistence will pay off though, if I keep tweaking and practicing with tilers. I'm having some trouble adjusting to window sizes changing on certain apps, but think further tweaks and practice will get me past all that.


    Thanks again to all for the replies...
    oz

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    oz
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    ...still playing around with these tiling window managers and am finding that it takes a while to get used to them once floating window managers have been ingrained into one's mind. Those things that help to adjust to a tiling manager would include limiting the number of different layouts being used, and learning the major keyboard shortcuts, along with a good bit of persistence and determination. Without those, it would be easy to go running back to a floating WM.

    My favorite so far is still Awesome, followed by i3, and I've also tried Notion, Spectrwm, Subtle, and wmii, although I didn't play with them for long. If you've never played around with a tiler, it is an interesting experience and worth the effort so that you'll at least understand a bit of what others are referring to when they mention them on the forums. If you play long enough, you might start liking this different way of working with application windows.
    oz

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    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    After watching the i3 video, I'm wondering why can't you just click on the window you want? What is with all this alt + j,k,l,; business. I know many people prefer keyboard shortcuts to mouse clicks, but I'm not one of them.
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    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by MASONTX View Post
    After watching the i3 video, I'm wondering why can't you just click on the window you want? What is with all this alt + j,k,l,; business. I know many people prefer keyboard shortcuts to mouse clicks, but I'm not one of them.
    Once you are familiar with the shortcuts, keyboard actions are supposed to be faster than using the mouse because your hands are already on the keyboard, but it does take practice and diligence to acclimate to a keyboard only environment. I've adjusted somewhat, but still rely heavily on the mouse due to past practices. Some of the tiling window managers are more mouse oriented than others, but they all seem to favor keyboard actions.
    oz

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    I once tried dwm, which you configure by recompiling it with different constants. I found it quite useful for certain editing tasks, where you have to compare a copy with an original; with a tiling wm you don't keep losing one of them by incautiously clicking in the wrong place. But my God was it ugly!
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    oz
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    I looked at dwm, but didn't install it, thinking some of the easier to configure WMs might be a better place to start. If this catches on with me, I might take a look at dwm and several others. One that's interesting and a bit different is subtle. It's a grid-oriented tiling WM rather than the typical tiler.

    So far, tilers are proving difficult for me because I don't like windows that keep changing in size, horizontal scrollbars, or fully maximized windows, and I'm not a 'multiple desktops' user. It may be that you need to be a fan of all or most of those to be successful with a tiling manager. Many tilers do come with floating window options, but I have that already with Openbox.

    We'll see how it all goes...
    Last edited by oz; 01-03-2013 at 08:03 PM. Reason: added 'scrollbars' comment
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