For me, the killer feature (aside from tiling vs overlapping) is that on my three monitors, I can switch virtual desktops independently on each monitor. After being able to do this, I don't understand why every window manager doesn't offer this. It's not uncommon with tiling WMs that have good multi-monitor support, but you really can't find it in traditional WMs. There's an unmaintained patch of openbox--openbox-multihead--that added the feature, and there's an "experimental" hybrid window manager written in Go (by the same author of the openbox patch), but no mainstream window managers appear to have the feature. Apparently it goes against a requirement/assumption in the EWMH spec and breaks existing pagers. But that's okay, because I don't use a pager.
Anyway, it really is critical to how I work now. I can keep a set of windows on my right monitor, and flip between virtual desktops on my center monitor without the right monitor changing at all. (And no, using the "sticky" feature of other WMs doesn't work for me because sometimes I do want to flip to a different virtual desktop on the right monitor and have that set of windows for whatever context I'm switching to). Along the same lines, the pertag patch is part of making dwm the perfect windows manager for me.
(If you're interested in the particular set of patches I use and my config, I maintain it at https://github.com/racingmars/dwm)
I have never used dwm seriously, but as far as I can tell the main feature it offers over i3 is tagging. I don't really understand how this meaningfully changes the day to day workflow, and I'd love to hear what you consider to be the advantages.
Personally I prefer being able to quickly toggle a dynamic window layout based on my current workflow, and switch back to manual tiling when I specifically need to manually tile.
Currently I use Sway too as it's the most mature tiling compositor on Wayland, but once River WM, also based on wlroots, matures more I think I will likely make the switch because I often miss dynamic tiling.
On a side note, I hate how window moving works in Sway/i3. I can hardly ever get windows to move to where I want them to go with keyboard. As a result, I have a bind that enters a 'move' mode that takes the current selected window and moves it to a window that I can select. That, or I just use the mouse to drag the window, which is kinda annoying considering this is a keeb focussed environment.
What are you specifically referring to when you say "tagging"?
That's because this feature is not a Freedesktop standard. The X11 root window have a property _NET_NUMBER_OF_DESKTOPS and a few more to help implement this behavior.
Most tiling WMs choose to ignore this standard in favor of this great feature. But the WMs of Gnome, Xfce, KDE, etc... will probably never implement it just in case some apps don't support it (like some games that needs to be floating windows in tiling WMs).
 - https://specifications.freedesktop.org/wm-spec/1.3/ar01s03.html
> freedesktop.org produces specifications for interoperability, but we are not an official standards body. There is no requirement for projects to implement all of these specifications, nor certification.
Freedesktop doesn't have any sort of authority, while it does provide some useful specs (e.g. the .desktop files are in general useful), not everything they do is like that.
The reason that this isn't found in floating WMs is simply that the developers of those WMs didn't found it useful to implement it, not because of Freedesktop (which BTW could update EWMH to include such a thing, it isn't like it has to be written in stone).
OS X has the same issue as a lot of other VMs. You can not simply have a single pool of workspaces and chose to view any N of them, where N is the number of monitors that you have. In OS X you can have workspaces on your left monitor, and workspaces on your right monitor, but you can't easily share the workspaces between the monitors without re-arranging them.
The only WM I have used that gets virtual desktops right for multi monitors is xmonad. Maybe dwm can work the same way, not sure.
In xmonad you can have 10 workspaces and 2 monitors, and pull up any workspace on any monitor. You can have hotkeys to cycle workspaces on either monitor independently and a key to swap the two monitors.
Even now, they still don't get it right and treat each monitor as its own set of desktops.
Now, if macOS could get auto-tiling options like Linux has...
If you decide that you want to see two workspaces from your center monitor, can you easily pull up one of them on the right monitor? The only thing I've ever used that lets you do this is xmonad (described in another comment below).
Holy cow, some of these features seem really useful. I should look at some of those other window managers!
> customized through editing its source code
Yikes, this is a very bad idea. This kind of customization is very hard to split off from the tool, share, version-control, and verify. Customization in a full, general-purpose imperative programming language is also a bad idea. Either make the tool a platform (Emacs) or use a declarative configuration language.
> Because dwm is customized through editing its source code, it's pointless to make binary packages of it. This keeps its userbase small and elitist.
Suckless tools are developed for the needs (and the benefit) of their own developers, and nobody else. Remember that.
> Suckless tools are developed for the needs (and the benefit) of their own developers, and nobody else. Remember that.
Just to flip this on it's head a bit (because different perspectives are more illuminating than crude dichotomies).
One of the underlying principles they use to justify not supporting external configuration, is minimal code. The absence of configs are one of many sacrifices they make for their ~1000 line limit. So on the face of it, it seems elitist, but on the other hand this principle makes the code significantly more accessible... one group (non programmers) have been more excluded; another group (programmers of almost all stripes) have had the barrier to entry significantly lowered due to this principle, not only to configure it, but to very feasibly change any aspect of it as they see fit.
Well designed code isn't primarily short, it's readable, modular, extensible and so on. This isn't the case for dwm. Simplest example, to enable extensions in the form of patches you basically have to apply diffs and because everything is just one giant pile of code even applying two entirely unrelated features can break depending on the order of the patch application.
This isn't elitist in the sense of applying best programming standards, it's elitist in the sense of "if you want to join the club you get hazed first"
If you don't know C, you benefit from your window manager offering things like scripting language bindings. The overall system becomes more complex and harder to debug, but it's easier to do simple things like change the color scheme.
So when dwm says they're "elitist", they mean that they haven't tried to make their window manager cater to people who don't know C. Luckily, there are a lot of other window managers out there that are better suited to those people.
This a key point. I personally would rather work in Lua than C; the Suckless developers feel the opposite way. This is fine, except when the Suckless developers imply that people who make different technical decisions are inferior or ignorant.
I'm not even sure what they actually use computers for at all, it always seems like lightweight enthusiasts actually do less with tech than average people, if you don't count random tinkering and stuff they do at work.
Their goals are just... very different from most.
Another way of putting it is: if you can use it, you become a suckless developer :)
Heck, even as a developer, I would always rather use a tool that doesn't require me to learn the internals in order for me to use it at a basic level of proficiency. Wouldn't you? (probably not in your specific case - I'm addressing the median HN user) Isn't that the point of abstraction and API boundaries?
If your goal is to make software that artificially requires others to invest a lot of needless time and effort in order to use it, or if you like creating beautiful pieces of code-art then suckless is for you.
If your goal is to build software that saves other humans time and effort, the suckless philosophy is absolutely the opposite thing of what you want.
In general, I agree, but there is a lot to be said for stripping the cruft out of systems that should be simple. Window management is not complicated - the fact that dwm is functional by default at <2k lines of C is evidence of this.
>If your goal is to make software that artificially requires others to invest a lot of needless time and effort in order to use it...
It is not made artificially difficult. It is just not made artificially easy either. The codebase is organized in a way that optimizes reading it and understanding its function. If you have done anything in C before, you will be up and making small modifications within 10-20 minutes.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek celebration of "elitism," people are more than happy to take a look at your code and tell you what you are doing wrong, and getting my dwm desktop to where I want it took about an afternoon, which is not something I can say of i3, GNOME, KDE, etc.
All of that said, the whole point is that it's not for everyone. If you don't like it, don't use it!
You say that as if it's some kind of terrible problem? seems fine to me.
If you don't like it, I guess it's not for you
Then it turned into this XML file format in 3.0, which was similar in spirit but a more regular language made it less easy to screw up. XSL was used to make the "go edit it yourself" instructions version: http://web.archive.org/web/20160310004103/https://www.phpbb....
It looks like they've finally ported to a real plugin system (https://www.phpbb.com/extensions/), but I had my fill of extend by patching in those days.
I love the magical bullshit in the description. Each line contains some face palm.
> dwm doesn't distinguish between layers: there is no floating or tiled layer. Whether or not the clients of currently selected tag(s) are in tiled layout, you can rearrange them on the fly. Popup and fixed-size windows are always floating, however.
Ok so it does have floating then?
> Because dwm is customized through editing its source code, it's pointless to make binary packages of it. This keeps its userbase small and elitist. No novices asking stupid questions. There are some distributions that provide binary packages though.
Ok so you can package then....?
> dwm is only a single binary, and its source code is intended to never exceed 2000 SLOC.
Strange flex but ok.
> dwm has no Lua integration, no 9P support, no shell-based configuration, no remote control, and comes without any additional tools, such as for printing the selection or warping the mouse.
It uses x, x warps the mouse.
> dwm is customized through editing its source code, which makes it extremely fast and secure - it does not process any input data which isn't known at compile time, except window titles and status text read from the root window's name.
ok so there is input that could hacked (not saying there IS, but if you process strings or floats from the user those can contain unexpected values).
All that said, suckless tools are nice, just think the mindset is hilarious.
The point is that the software that you're using to manage your computer is simple enough that you can read all of it and understand it -- not that you have to, but you could.
The official method for "extensions" to DWM is in the form of Git patches (https://dwm.suckless.org/patches/). You apply the patch and re-compile. If you had dwm through your package manager, you wouldn't be able to apply any patches, because you would just have the binary.
>Ok so it does have floating then?
What's meant by the quoted text is that you can cycle through all windows on your current workspace, including the floating ones, using only your keyboard. Yes, it does have floating.
edit: I should also say, the real power move for me is that I can just fork the dwm git repo on github, and have my exact desktop configuration available to me 24/7 from anywhere, and I can deploy it on a potato.
Of course, when I do really need multiple windows, tiling mode is an Alt-t away.
I enjoy using a simple program to meet my simple needs.
This is the zen of suckless. Unlike other projects that desperately reach for users anywhere they can get them and then suffer the resulting bloat, suckless knows exactly who they are building for.
It’s a tough thing to swallow but embracing the opposite of the suckless zen is probably a large part of why modern software is so bad. The more we try to pretend it should be possible for all people to program or use computers in general, the worse software becomes.
I think most people would consider OpenBSD for instance to be "small." It comes packed full of tools, many of which you might never use. Many things come with "user friendly" config formats. I don't think anyone in their right mind would call it bloated (as far as reasonably modern unixalikes are concerned), but it's also far from being so minimalistic as to require you to configure things at source level.
And in OpenBSD, you find this window manager called cwm. It's not exactly comparable; hardcore dwm users would no doubt be very disappointed with it. However, I use both WMs and both suck & are good in their own ways. cwm has a config format and you don't need a compiler and the entire toolchain to be able to configure it. On the other hand, you don't have all the useful patches people have made for dwm over the years. cwm is small, and not bloated.
Source: dmenu user.
So basically what you're trying to say is that the people who use suckless tools are incompetent programmers?
I was 100% with you until that last sentence. For me, it's just an important reminder that software isn't just a commercial endeavor, or just a job, but can be artistry, hobby, and tool. And that each of those are vibrant enough to support and serve their own overlapping communities.
I definitely miss the heart and aesthetics of software some days, so I get the cynism!
Signed - dmenu fan
I sometimes use retro computers and marvel at how well the software for those machines runs. The only difference i can guess is that the average developer ability was higher.
Also, I strongly feel like old software "runs better" because neither the OS nor the software itself practically did anything. The security model was "be a good citizen." Graphics programming meant writing to a big buffer and then copying it to the screen. Oh your native language isn't representable in ASCII? It reads right-to-left? You are colorblind and need to apply a color transform to the display? Too bad. Those things aren't "clean and simple" code and the team of 30-something 1337 guys that wrote wasn't imagining you when deciding how the program would work.
Also it's not like these programs aren't still available. Did you write this comment using lynx? Do you do your finances with "gnome spreadsheet?" Do you listen to music with WinAmp 2.0? Do you moan in frustration every time you find a long, informative Wikipedia article, undoubtedly written by someone who doesn't understand cache lines, or even CSS? I don't even though I used to (well not the last one). I've moved on to objectively better things.
We're way, way better off with lower barriers and increased participation because it's additive. Despite electron being a thing or Visual Studio ushering in an era of "GUI builder + simple callback" apps, suckless still exists.
In terms of the greater concept of technology adoption, mandated facial recognition and apps for accessing crucial government/financial services only started making sense once smartphones had become useful enough to the average person from being an objectively better way of consuming information, such that nearly everyone decided to purchase and use one. That was because so many engineers and other people had eyes on the technology given its objective utility, and they all contributed to its uprising.
Despite this, I highly doubt that the elitist technological separation that suckless proposes would ever come to pass in the real world. We're simply too smart to not find better ways of manipulating burnt sand on our own, whether or not they exist to serve some powerful entity's ulterior motive.
the scope of suckless software will always be rather limited. one of the reasons their distro failed. but judging by how their elitism is not just tongue in cheek, most of them likely run LFS anyway. they seem like the kind of people that look at gentoo and decide that's not enough micromanagement for them.
But yes, if you use macOS, st is probably not the terminal for you.
It's impossible for all people to effectively use software over the long term without learning about its internals. Software can help people learn about its internals.
Yes, so don't embrace the opposite of suckless - shoot for a nice middle-ground.
The suckless philosophy is antithetical to the purpose of computers, which is as time-saving, labor-saving, collaborative automation devices. Here's what I wrote on Lobsters:
Unfortunately, the suckless philosophy leads to software that doesn’t do what software is meant to do - alleviate human work by making the machine do it instead. The suckless philosophy of “simplicity” translates to “simplistic software that doesn’t do what you would need it to do, so either you waste time re-implementing features that other people have already written (or would have written), or you do the task by hand instead”.
If, when required to choose exactly one of “change the software to reduce user effort” and “make the code prettier”, you consistently choose the latter, you’re probably not a software engineer - you’re an artist, making beautiful code art, for viewing purposes only. You definitely aren’t writing programs for other people to use, whether you think you are or not.
This philosophy (and the results) are why I switched away from dmenu to rofi - because rofi provided effort-saving features that were valuable to me out-of-the-box, while dmenu did not. (I used dmenu for probably a year - but it only took me a few minutes with rofi to realize its value and switch) rofi is more valuable as a tool, as a effort-saving device, than dmenu is, or ever will be.
In other words - the suckless philosophy, when followed, actively makes computers less useful as tools (because, among other things, computers are communication and collaboration devices, and the suckless philosophy excludes large collaborative projects that meet the needs of many users). This is fine if your purpose is to make art, or to only fulfill your own needs - just make sure that you clearly state to other potential users that your software is not meant for them to make use of.
Also note that the most-used (and useful) tools follow exactly the opposite of the suckless philosophy - Firefox, Chromium, Windows, Libreoffice, Emacs, VSCode, Syncthing, qmk, fish, gcc, llvm, rustc/cargo, Blender, Krita, GIMP, Audacity, OBS, VLC, KiCad, JetBrains stuff, and more - not just the ones that are easy to use, but also ones that are hard to use (Emacs, VSCode, Audacity, Blender, JetBrains) but meet everyone’s needs, and are extensible by themselves (as opposed to requiring integration with other simple CLI programs).
There’s a reason for this - these programs are more useful to more people than anything suckless-like (or built using the Unix philosophy, which shares many of the same weaknesses). So, if you’re writing software exclusively for yourself, suckless is great - but if you’re writing software for other people (either as an open-source project, or as a commercial tool), it sucks.
To top it off, people writing open-source software using the suckless philosophy aren’t contributing to non-suckless projects that are useful to other people - so the rest of the open-source community loses out, too.
For this, I highly recommend AwesomeWM. Been my daily driver for half a year now. I absolutely love it. It's scripted with Lua, so it's still snappy, while being easy to extend. The only downside is the *meh* documentation, but it's still usable.
DWM though, having to compile it every time you want to change the configuration is too much.
You can turn patches on and off at will, without having to mess with diffs. Once you get it right you can finalize your config with a separate script. It is like magic. There are also flexipatch repos for st and dmenu
>> You don't have to learn Lua/sh/ruby or some weird configuration file format (like X resource files), beside C, to customize it for your needs: you only have to learn C (at least in order to edit the header file).
From a usability perspective, that's pretty awful.
Stick with i3 for a happier time.
They’re doing literal torch hikes through southern Germany at their conferences, fighting online against "cultural marxism", and their mail server has the hostname "Wolfsschanze" (see: https://twitter.com/pid_eins/status/1113738766471057408)
"This keeps its userbase small and elitist. No novices asking stupid questions."
From Wikipedia's definition of Eugenics:
"Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior."
What's interesting is I was actually drawn to suckless several years ago, and used dwm for a while. At the time, my work had me maintaining a disturbingly bug-ridden codebase, and it gave me a visceral disgust for bad code. Suckless was really compelling. They seemed to hate all the things I hated, and promised a solution.
Eventually I changed jobs, grew out of it, and found more interesting solutions. Oh well, at least it wasn't a bout of National Socialism.
ctrl f "enrico"
Is there a joke I'm missing or why are you using quotes there?
Now I've actually settled into enjoying EXWM the most, feels very natural to have everything to at least appear to be inside emacs. My point is that there is no right tiling window manager.
bspwm is somewhat more painful to install and configure in my experience (though also great once it’s set up), and afaik it does not have an easy config for the right-side window stack that is a key selling point of dwm to me.
I think I'll forever be on bspwm <3