evilwm—minimalist window manager for X11
evilwm is a minimalist window manager for the X Window System. It features plenty of reconfigurable mouse and keyboard controls while providing a clean display, uncluttered by less useful window furniture (like title bars).
- specifies the X display to run on. Usually this can be inferred from the
- specifies an alternative program to run when spawning a new terminal (defaults to xterm, or x-terminal-emulator in Debian). Separate arguments with whitespace, and escape needed whitespace with a backslash. Remember that special characters will also need to be protected from the shell.
- specify a font to use when resizing or displaying window titles.
- frame colour of currently active, fixed active, and inactive windows
respectively. Either specify an X11 colour name like
goldenrod, or a hex triplet like
- width of window borders in pixels.
- enable snap-to-border support. distance is the proximity in pixels to snap to.
- ignore monitor geometry and use the whole screen dimensions. This is the old behaviour from before multi-monitor support was implemented, and may still be useful, eg when one large monitor is driven from multiple outputs.
- number of virtual desktops to provide. Defaults to 8. Any extras will only be accessible by pagers or using Control+Alt+(Left/Right).
- draw a window outline while moving or resizing.
- override the default keyboard modifiers used to grab keys for window
mask1is used for most keyboard controls (default: control+alt), and
mask2is used for mouse button controls and cycling windows (default: alt).
altmaskis used to modify the behaviour of certain controls (default: shift). Modifiers may be separated with + signs. Valid modifiers are 'shift', 'control', 'alt', 'mod1'…'mod5'.
- bind a key pressed with specified modifiers to a window manager function. key is an X11 keysym name, modifiers are as above, but may also include 'mask1', 'mask2' and 'altmask' to refer to the globally-configured combinations. See FUNCTIONS for a list of available functions and the flags they recognise. If function is empty, a bind is removed.
- bind a mouse button to a window manager function. While modifiers can be specified, they will be ignored; the button on its own will trigger if pressed within a window's frame, or with 'mask2' held anywhere within a window. Function and flags is as with key binds above. Valid buttons are 'button1'…'button5'.
- match an application by instance name and class (for help in finding these,
use the xprop tool to extract the WM_CLASS property).
--fixedoptions will apply to this match.
- apply a geometry (using a standard X geometry string) to applications
matching the last
- specify that application should be considered to be a dock, even if it lacks the appropriate property.
- specify a default virtual desktop for applications matching the last
--app. Note that virtual desktops are numbered from zero.
- specify that application is to start with a fixed client window.
- show help
- show program version
evilwm will also read options, one per line, from a file called .evilwmrc in the user's home directory. Options listed in a configuration file should omit the leading dash(es). Options specified on the command line override those found in the configuration file.
In evilwm, the focus follows the mouse pointer, and focus is not lost if you stray onto the root window. The current window border is shaded gold (unless it is fixed, in which case blue), with other windows left as a dark grey.
You can use the mouse to manipulate windows either by click/dragging the single-pixel border (easier when they align with a screen edge), or by holding down Alt and doing so anywhere in the window. The controls are:
- Button 1
- Move window.
- Button 2
- Resize window.
- Button 3
- Lower window.
Most keyboard controls are used by holding down Control and Alt, then pressing a key. Available functions are:
- Spawn new terminal.
- Delete current window. Hold Shift as well to force kill a client.
- Lower current window.
- H, J, K, L
- Move window left, down, up or right (16 pixels). Holding Shift resizes the window instead.
- Y, U, B, N
- Move window to the top-left, top-right, bottom-left or bottom-right of the current monitor.
- Show information about current window.
- Maximise current window vertically on current monitor (toggle). Holding Shift toggles horizontal maximization.
- Maximise current window to current monitor (toggle).
- Toggle visible state of docks, eg pagers and launch bars.
If compiled with virtual desktop support, these functions are also available:
- Fix or unfix current window. Fixed windows remain visible when you switch virtual desktop.
- Switch to specific virtual desktop (internally, desktops are numbered from zero, so this actually switches to desktops 0—7; this only becomes important if you use application matching).
- Switch to next lower numbered virtual desktop.
- Switch to next higher numbered virtual desktop.
- Switch to the previously selected virtual desktop.
In addition to the above, Alt+Tab can be used to cycle through windows.
To make evilwm reread its config, send a HUP signal to the process. To make it quit, kill it, ie send a TERM signal.
The keyboard and mouse button controls can be configured with the
--bind option to a number of built-in functions. Typically, these
functions respond to an additional set of flags that modify their behaviour.
- Delete a window. This is the co-operative way of closing applications, as it sends the client a signal indicating that they should shut down.
- When called with the
toggleflag, toggles visibility of any window claiming to be a dock.
- With the
toggleflag, toggle whether a window is fixed (visible on all virtual desktops) or not.
- Shows extra information about the current window for as long as the key is held.
- Kill a window. A more forceful way of closing an application if it is not responding to delete requests.
- Lower the current window.
- When bound to a button, moves a window with the mouse.
When bound to a key, if the
relativeflag is specified, moves a window in the direction indicated by other flags:
right. Without the
relativeflag, moves a window in the direction specified by other flag to the edge of the monitor.
- Cycle to the next window.
- When bound to a button, resizes a window with the mouse.
When bound to a key, if the
relativeflag is specified, modifies the width or height of the window as indicated by other flags:
left(reduce width) or
right(increase width). If instead the
toggleflag is specified, maximises along axes specified by other flags:
- Start a terminal.
- With the
toggleflag specified, switch to the previously visible vdesk. With the
relativeflag set, either increase vdesk number (with
upflag) or decrease it (with
If neither flag is specified, a numerical argument indicates which vdesk to switch to.
These are the default lists of modifiers, button and keyboard binds. The built-in binds use the globally-configurable modifier combinations 'mask1', 'mask2' and 'altmask', making a sweeping change to a different modifier combination easy.
Note that 'mod1' typically refers to the Alt key.
mask1 control+mod1 mask2 mod1 altmask shift
bind button1=move,drag bind button2=resize,drag bind button3=lower
bind mask1+Return=spawn bind mask1+Escape=delete bind mask1+altmask+Escape=kill bind mask1+Insert=lower bind mask1+KP_Insert=lower bind mask1+i=info bind mask2+Tab=next bind mask1+h=move,relative+left bind mask1+j=move,relative+down bind mask1+k=move,relative+up bind mask1+l=move,relative+right bind mask1+y=move,top+left bind mask1+u=move,top+right bind mask1+b=move,bottom+left bind mask1+n=move,bottom+right bind mask1+altmask+h=resize,relative+left bind mask1+altmask+j=resize,relative+down bind mask1+altmask+k=resize,relative+up bind mask1+altmask+l=resize,relative+right bind mask1+equal=resize,toggle+v bind mask1+altmask+equal=resize,toggle+h bind mask1+x=resize,toggle+v+h bind mask1+d=dock,toggle bind mask1+f=fix,toggle bind mask1+1=vdesk,0 bind mask1+2=vdesk,1 bind mask1+3=vdesk,2 bind mask1+4=vdesk,3 bind mask1+5=vdesk,4 bind mask1+6=vdesk,5 bind mask1+7=vdesk,6 bind mask1+8=vdesk,7 bind mask1+Left=vdesk,relative+down bind mask1+Right=vdesk,relative+up bind mask1+a=vdesk,toggle
Copyright (C) 1999-2022 Ciaran Anscomb <email@example.com>
This is free software. You can do what you want to it, but if it breaks something, you get to pay for the counselling. The code was originally based on aewm, so this is distributed under the same terms, which follow.
Copyright (c) 1998-2000 Decklin Foster.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR "AS IS", WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES CONNECTED WITH THE USE OF THIS PROGRAM.
You are granted permission to copy, publish, distribute, and/or sell copies of this program and any modified versions or derived works, provided that this copyright and notice are not removed or altered.
Portions of the code were based on 9wm, which contains this license:
9wm is free software, and is Copyright (c) 1994 by David Hogan. Permission is granted to all sentient beings to use this software, to make copies of it, and to distribute those copies, provided that: (1) the copyright and licence notices are left intact (2) the recipients are aware that it is free software (3) any unapproved changes in functionality are either (i) only distributed as patches or (ii) distributed as a new program which is not called 9wm and whose documentation gives credit where it is due (4) the author is not held responsible for any defects or shortcomings in the software, or damages caused by it. There is no warranty for this software. Have a nice day.
xterm (1), xprop (1)