dwm is a dynamic window manager for Xorg. It manages windows in tiled, stacked, and full-screen layouts, as well as many others with the help of optional patches. Layouts can be applied dynamically, optimizing the environment for the application in use and the task being performed. dwm is extremely lightweight and fast, written in C and with a stated design goal of remaining under 2000 source lines of code. It provides multihead support for xrandr and Xinerama.


The prescribed way to install dwm is as follows:

$ git clone git://git.suckless.org/dwm
$ cd dwm
$ make
# make install

dwm can also be installed with the AUR packages dwmAUR or dwm-gitAUR. Make any required #Configuration changes before building and installing, see makepkg.


dwm is configured at compile-time by editing some of its source files, specifically config.h. For detailed information on these settings, see the included, well-commented config.def.h as well as the customisation section on the dwm website.

The official website has a number of patches that can add extra functionality to dwm. These patches primarily make changes to the dwm.c file but also make changes to the config.h file where appropriate. For information on applying patches, see the Patching packages article.


Select Dwm from the menu in a display manager of choice. Alternatively, to start dwm with startx append to ~/.xinitrc and prepend other programs to execute them as well, for example:

redshift -O3500; xset r rate 300 50; exec dwm


See the dwm tutorial for information on basic dwm usage.

Tips and tricks

Statusbar configuration

For more examples of status bars, see .

dwm reads the name of the root window and redirects it to the statusbar. The root window is the window within which all other windows are drawn and arranged by the window manager. Like any other window, the root window has a title/name, but it is usually undefined because the root window always runs in the background.

The information that you want dwm to show in the statusbar should be defined with command in ~/.xinitrc or (if you are using a display manager). For example:

xsetroot -name "Thanks for all the fish!"

Dynamically updated information should be put in a loop which is forked to background - see the example below:

# Statusbar loop
while true; do
   xsetroot -name "$( date +"%F %R" )"
   sleep 1m    # Update time every minute
done &

# Autostart section
pcmanfm & 

exec dwm

In this case the date is shown in ISO 8601 format and PCManFM is launched at startup.

Conky statusbar

Conky can be printed to the statusbar with :

(conky | while read LINE; do xsetroot -name "$LINE"; done) &
exec dwm

If you do not want to spawn too many PIDs by 'xsetroot' command, you can compile this C program:

#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <X11/Xlib.h>

int main(int argc, char * argv[])
        Display * dpy = NULL;
        Window win = 0;
        size_t length = 0;
        ssize_t bytes_read = 0;
        char * input = NULL;

        dpy = XOpenDisplay(getenv("DISPLAY"));
        if (dpy == NULL)
                fprintf(stderr, "Can't open display, exiting.\n");
        win = DefaultRootWindow(dpy);

        while ((bytes_read = getline(&input, &length, stdin)) != EOF)
                input[strlen(input) - 1] = '\0';
                XStoreName(dpy, win, input);
                fprintf(stderr, "Input: %s", input);
                fprintf(stderr, "\nbytes read: %ld\n", bytes_read);
        return 0;

Save this code to file dwm-setstatus.c, compile:

$ gcc dwm-setstatus.c -lX11 -o dwm-setstatus

move 'dwm-setstatus' within your $PATH (/usr/local/bin, for example)

# mv dwm-setstatus /usr/local/bin

and run:

$ conky | dwm-setstatus

To do this, conky needs to be told to output text to the console only. The following is a sample conkyrc for a dual core CPU, displaying several usage statistics:

For icons and color options, see dzen.

Restart dwm

To restart dwm without logging out or closing applications, change or add a startup script so that it loads dwm in a while loop, for example:

dwm can now be restarted without destroying other X windows by pressing the usual Mod-Shift-Q combination.

It is a good idea to place the above startup script into a separate file, for instance, and execute it through ~/.xinitrc. Consider running the script with to avoid security implications with remaining logged in after the X server is terminated; see Xinit#Autostart X at login for more information. From this point on, when you wish to end the X session, simply execute , or bind it to a convenient keybind. Alternatively, you could setup your dwm session script so that it relaunches dwm only if the binary changes. This could be useful in the case where you change a setting or update the dwm code base.

Bind the right Alt key to Mod4

When using Mod4 (the Super/Windows Key) as the , it may be equally convenient to have the right Alt key (Alt_R) act as . This will allow you to perform otherwise awkward keystrokes one-handed, such as zooming with Alt_R+.

First, find out which keycode is assigned to Alt_R:

xmodmap -pke | grep Alt_R

Then simply add the following to the startup script (e.g. ~/.xinitrc), changing the keycode 113 if necessary to the result gathered by the previous command:

xmodmap -e "keycode 113 = Super_L"  # reassign Alt_R to Super_L
xmodmap -e "remove mod1 = Super_L"  # make sure X keeps it out of the mod1 group

After doing so, any functions that are triggered by the key press will also be triggered by an Alt_R key press.

Use both Alt keys as Meta in DWM

Use xmodmap to assign Alt_L as a secondary meta key in DWM (provided already using Mod1Mask (Alt_R))

Space around font in dwm's bar

By default, dwm's bar adds 2px around the size of the font. To change this, modify the following line in dwm.c:

Disable focus follows mouse

To disable focus follows mouse behaviour, comment out the following line in definiton of struct handler in dwm.c

[EnterNotify] = enternotify,

Note that this change can cause some difficulties; the first click on an inactive window will only bring the focus to it. To interact with window contents (buttons, fields etc), you need to click again. Also, if you have several monitors, you may notice that the keyboard focus does not switch to another monitor activated by clicking.

Floating layout for some windows

For some windows, such as preferences dialogs, it does not make sense for these windows to be tiled - they should be free-floating instead. For example, to make Firefox's preferences dialog float, add the following to your rules array in config.h:

 { "Firefox",     NULL,       "Firefox Preferences",        1 << 8,         True,     -1 },

Using Tilda with dwm

Tilda works best when added to all tags, and configured to be floating. To do so, add the following to your rules array in config.h:

{ "Tilda",        NULL,       NULL,                         0,              True,       -1 },

Launch tilda with -C option:

$ tilda -C

Now you can configure Tilda, the following options are provided as a recommendation:

It is important you enable the pulldown-animation, otherwise Tilda will keep jumping down each time you unhide it, must be a dwm issue.


Fixing misbehaving Java applications

Try setting . Setting wmname "LG3D" using may help too. Also see the Java page.

Fixing gaps around terminal windows

If there are empty gaps of desktop space outside terminal windows, it is likely due to the terminal's font size. Either adjust the size until finding the ideal scale that closes the gap, or toggle to 0 in config.h.

This will cause dwm to ignore resize requests from all client windows, not just terminals. The downside to this workaround is that some terminals may suffer redraw anomalies, such as ghost lines and premature line wraps, among others.

Alternatively, if you use the st terminal emulator, you can apply the anysize patch and recompile st.

See also

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