Tiling window managers

Desktop management how Pajitnov intended

August 13, 2019 — February 13, 2022

computers are awful
Figure 1: Typical xmonad desktop session. Each of the fragments contains a whole other xmonad session, but it is ok because of tail recursion.

The other paradigm to stacking window managers.

Long story, but see:

Basically, instead of arranging apps in stacks of overlapping windows, these try to slice the screen up into non-overlapping windows in a manner conducive to keyboard automation. Open question: Does this make anything more efficient, for me, the user? It certainly makes it feel like I must be more efficient, because it is difficult, but this seems to be cognitive-dissonance-based reasoning. Were those days of being confused about how to switch apps paid back in terms of thousands of 1-second savings? Are the 1-second savings even real, when half my apps freak out when using tiling window managers?

Anyway, I am trying this out ATM. If I get a Nobel prize from it then great, that will be a data point in favour.

1 Posix

There is some tiling-style layout support in GNOME. Using it feels meta-contrarian. The convention of tiling window manager users is of course that they make the unconventional choice to throw ou a well-supported desktop environment like GNOME in favour of a zany one that supports tiling. Thus it is on-brand to switch to old-school naked window managers, such as i3, xmonad etc. This is an extreme maverick lifestyle choice, using a tiling window manager which is innocent of all the other widgets and fripperies of modern mainstream Desktop environments.

To try and have it all feels dangerously normie. Anyway, my edgily non-edgy choice is to attempt to have it all via the System76 GNOME Auto Tiling extension. It does a pretty good job. It is probably not as smooth or efficient as a radical alternative would be but you know what? My laptop is fast and my capacity for debugging bespoke bullshit is small.

If I wanted to be more conventionally unconventional I would need to make another choice: Am I a clever future hipster because I choose the new display protocol, Wayland over the classic X11, or because I choose the tiling window manager over the alternative? Currently there are limited options if I want to adopt both styles of futurism at once. The only viable one seems to be sway which is a Wayland port of the classic i3 tiling window manager. This is now doubly far from classic mainstream options, so some stuff breaks. For one thing, they do not support some important things, like NVIDIA GPUs, so it is probably best suited to tiny displays that do not benefit so much from tiling window managers or maybe AMD GPUs? But I do not own one of those so… OK I’m tapping out of this. Pop autotiling FTW.

2 macos

See macos window managers.

3 Windows

There are several

However, for simplicity one should probably use PowerToys FancyZones, which is supported by Miscrosoft.

Here are some user guides: