I switched to AwesomeWM

A few month ago an update of Artix Linux broke my QTile setup on my laptop and on my desktop. I couldn't get the slightest clue what was wrong and even a reinstall didn't fix the problem which was suggested on some forum. QTile is written in python. I didn't worry about it in the past, but as some of you might know: python breaks.

On my journey for a new window manager I tried AwesomeWM for the first time. And I liked it right from the beginning! I'm not very good at desktop ricing and this surely isn't something for r/unixporn but here's a screenshot:

My AwesomeWM desktop (image)

What I like

Lua as configuration language

Because most of AwesomeWM is written in Lua, it is also configured and extended in Lua. I understand that some people may have some troubles with this language but I really like it. It seems much more stable than python and is easy to learn. Lua is very lightweight and small and doesn't suck up a lot of resources like the heavyweight language python. The only strange thing is that it starts index count at 1 not 0. I don't know why this design decision was made.


AwesomeWM can be seen as a "framework window manager", similar to QTile, where you can customize/hack every element of the WM to the extreme with the Lua API. With the Lua language AwesomeWM can be extended with new tiling layouts or other features. For example AwesomeWM doesn't support scratchpads out of the box, but it was easy to add that functionality with some help of a search engine. I've also briefly looked into solutions for window swallowing, which can also be achieved with some Lua fu.

Tags instead of Workspaces

In short, windows are "tagged" to different workspaces. So I can have the same window on multiple workspaces, can merge workspaces and a lot more. This concept is a different but convenient approach to managing windows.

What I don't like

The built in wibar (status bar)

I didn't like the built in bar in its standard configuration. I'm sure it's very customizable, but I didn't want to deep dive into configuring it. Fortunately polybar supports AwesomeWM out of the box and it's easy to strip out the original bar from AwesomeWM. This also reduced the length of the default config file quite a bit.

Windows sometimes losing focus when using rofi

Sometimes when I use rofi with a shortcut to choose a password or emoji to be pasted, focus is switched to a different window. I couldn't figure out the exact conditions when this is happening, but it can be annoying. I made this observation on QTile as well, so it's not an AwesomeWM exclusive.

Final words

I don't tend to hop between window managers a lot (same goes for distros) and so far I think I've found a new home. If no fundamental problems arise, I'll stay in AwesomeWM. There are still some things to do, for example set up window swallowing, tidy up and split the config file and do a little more ricing. If I had checked out AwesomeWM before QTile I could have saved myself from this episode. Why not earlier?

The only downside is that AwesomeWM doesn't support wayland. I haven't paid much attention to the wayland progress and unless X.org is completely deprecated or there are any well matured tiling compositors (yes I know of sway) I'll stay with X.org. But I would switch to wayland if I could use AwesomeWM on it - but I'm not sure if this will ever be the case.

All in all - have fun!



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