Jun 302024

The funny thing is that this post is not about window tiling but about conventional tiling window managers that to a great extent are “do it yourself” window managers. That is they kind of expect you to do a lot of configuration yourself.

This is not about specific tiling window managers even though I use Awesome and Hyprland.

Tiling vs Floating

In the earliest days of gooeys, windows tended to be tiled so that they didn’t overlap; if you added a new window to the screen, the existing windows would shrink to make room for the new window.

So-called (at least in tiling window managers) “floating” windows were hailed as a brilliant new feature where windows were independent and could overlap. Cool right?

And this is certainly the way that most conventional gooeys work – from Windows, MacOS, and even Linux, they all support floating windows by default. On the other hand, tiling window managers support tiling by default (most will support floating windows as well).

So why would you want to go back to the dawn of gooeys? And it is not just us weird geeks running minimalist window managers looking at tiling – many mainstream desktop environment have tiling features.

It maximises screen real-estate by automatically sizing windows so the whole desktop is covered. I can remember carefully dragging windows to resize them to maximise their size with conventional ‘floating’ window managers. Something that now happens automatically.


So tiling can be done with conventional desktop environments – some of which allow support for tiling. KDE has Bismouth; GNOME has the Tiling Assistant, and even Windows has options. Now a tiling window manager does treat tiling as a first class feature, that’s not really why those who prefer them like them.

No, it’s the minimalism and customisation.

Most desktop environments carry with them lots of bonus features – which is fine for most. But if you don’t need those features and/or want to do things in a different way, then a full desktop environment isn’t what you want.

And tiling window managers tend to be minimalistic; even to the extent that some do not include a status bar requiring an optional status bar to be installed. The default configuration (if any) tends to be minimalistic requiring lots of tinkering to get the most out of it.

Which is a positive feature for tinkerers if a negative feature for those who just want to be up and running. But tinkering whilst it takes time, does tend to product a more productive environment – for example my Hyprland configuration includes a custom key binding to grab IP addresses and URLs from a highlighted section of the screen (and optionally “defangs” safely specified dangerous URLs which give you a hint about what I do).

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