Related articles

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.



Note: If dwm is not compiled from source, opportunities for customization are lost since dwm's configuration is performed by editing its source code. See #Configuration for more information.

Install the dwm package. Alternatively, make changes to the source code, then compile dwm using ABS or the dwm-gitAUR package for the development version.

Starting dwm

Select Dwm from the menu in a display manager of choice.

Alternatively, to start dwm with startx append the following to ~/.xinitrc:

exec dwm



dwm is configured at compile-time by editing some of its source files, namely 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 Patching in ABS.

Status bar

See the dwmstatus section on the dwm website. Also see the [#Statusbar configuration] section in [#Tips and tricks].

Use pacman

You should create a package using a PKGBUILD so that pacman is aware of the package.

Applying changes

After making any desired changes and installing the updated package, restart dwm in order to apply the changes.

Basic usage

Consult the dwm tutorial for information on basic dwm usage. Additionally see dwm(1).

Tips and tricks

Statusbar configuration

Note: The following requires the xorg-xsetroot package to be installed.

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 xsetroot -name "" command in ~/.xinitrc or ~/.xprofile (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.

Note: It is not recommended to set the update interval equal to zero or remove the "sleep" line entirely since this will cause CPU usage to rise substantially (you can assess the effect with top and powertop).

More examples of statusbars are included on the suckless wiki.

Conky statusbar

Conky can be printed to the statusbar with xsetroot -name:

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

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:

conky.config = {
out_to_console = true,
out_to_x = false,
background = false,
update_interval = 2,
total_run_times = 0,
use_spacer = 'none',
conky.text = [[
$mpd_smart :: ${cpu cpu1}% / ${cpu cpu2}%  ${loadavg 1} ${loadavg 2 3} :: ${acpitemp}c :: $memperc% ($mem) :: ${downspeed eth0}K/s ${upspeed eth0}K/s :: ${time %a %b %d %I:%M%P}

For icons and color options, see dzen.

Restart dwm without logging out or closing programs

For restarting dwm without logging out or closing applications, change or add a startup script so that it loads dwm in a while loop, see below:

while true; do
    # Log stderror to a file 
    dwm 2> ~/.dwm.log
    # No error logging
    #dwm >/dev/null 2>&1

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, ~/bin/startdwm for instance, and execute it through ~/.xinitrc. From this point on, when you wish to end the X session, simply execute killall xinit, or bind it to a convenient key. 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.

# relaunch DWM if the binary changes, otherwise bail
csum=$(sha1sum $(which dwm))
while true
    if [ "$csum" != "$new_csum" ]
        exit 0
    new_csum=$(sha1sum $(which dwm))
    sleep 0.5

Make the right Alt key work as if it were Mod4 (Windows Key)

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

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 xmodmap 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 Super_L key press will also be triggered by an Alt_R key press.

Note: There is a #define option in config.h which also allows you to switch the modkey

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:

bh = dc.h = dc.font.height + 2;

Disable focus follows mouse behaviour

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.

Make some windows start floating

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 },


Fixing misbehaving Java applications

See Java#Non-reparenting window managers for a solution.

Fixing the extra topbar that does not disappear when changing resolution/monitors

Note: this patch is intended for dwm-6.0 which is currently in the official repositories. The development version of dwm has already implemented this.

When resizing or connecting/disconnecting different monitors there may be a remnant of the topbar stuck on the screen which cannot be removed. To fix this bug, rebuild dwm with this patch.

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 resizehints to False in config.h:

static Bool resizehints = False; /* True means respect size hints in tiled resizals */

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.

See also