Linux is very modular, you can find a bunch of different distro based on GNU/Linux in distrowatch. Even Android is using Linux kernel. Although Android doesn’t utilize GNU tools.

I’m not textbook guy, I don’t know exactly what is the different and I won’t give a definition here either.

Cinnamon 3D Switcher

Window Manager Perspective

There is a standalone WM, and WM tighted to a DE.

If you don’t know what is DE and WM are all about, here is the abbreviations.

  • DE: Desktop Environment

  • WM: Window Manager

WM tighted to a DE

Here is a list of DE with specific WM.

GTK+3 based

GTK based

QT5 based

DE with choice of WM

  • LXQT (C++, CMake) can utilize openbox or xfwm4 or kwin

New Contender

  • Deepin (Vala, Go) is using Deepin-WM, utilizing HTML5.

  • Budgie (Vala, Meson) is using Window-WM, Moving from (GTK) to (QT, QML)

  • BlankOn’s Manokwari (Vala, Utilize Meson Soon)

  • Liri (C++, QML), formerly Hawaii

  • Orbital (Rust, Cargo)

Standalone Window Manager

There are many kind of Window Manager

  • Stacking WM:

  • Tiling WM:

  • Dynamic WM: You can switch from tiling to floating

Note that you should read from wiki for more comprehensive knowledge.

Illustration: Window Manager Layout


There is one more Category, The Compositor Before you ask. I will tell you that I don’t understand what it means.

  • KWin

  • Compiz

Living on the Edge

Nowadays there is a tendency to replace X Display Server with Wayland Weston.

So we have a WM made for Wayland Only

  • Velox, I never tried this. So I don’t know.

And sadly, some cool WMs made for X only.

  • Openbox

Openbox cannot be ported to Wayland because it used internal X something.

Switch between WM

Each DE can use different WMs. You can experiment replacing standard WM in a DE with this standalone WM. Prepare for weird result.

My favorite is using KWin in XFCE4 because I like to use Ghost Deco from KWin.

Let’s try in XFCE4.

 $ kwin_x11 --replace &


 $ openbox --replace &

and you can switch back to

 $ xfwm4 --replace &

How do I learn ?

For a beginner, let’s try every popular DE.

  • XFCE4, gnome-shell, KDE, LXQT, Cinnamon.

And later Window Manager

  • Awesome, because it still have menu, it is easy

  • i3, intimidating for n00bs. But it is still easy because it only needs a configuration file.

  • XMonad. This one need coding, in Haskell. But once you got it running, you’ll love it.

Good Watch

I found a super duper good cast from Aline Abler in youtube.

DE Customization

Update 2020

Illustration: Desktop Environment Customization

WM Customization

Update 2020

Illustration: Window Manager Customization

Illustration: Window Manager Tools

I think that’s enough for today. Correct me If I wrong.

Thank you for reading