The status of this project is: UNSTABLE. I am preparing 1.9 (development, for 2.0) and 1.4 (stable, for older X) branches with a lot of internal changes.


To get the code:

hg clone



aewm is a modern, minimal window manager for X11. It is controlled entirely with the mouse, but contains no visible UI apart from window frames. The command set is sort of like vi: designed back in the dawn of time (1997) to squeeze speed out of low-memory machines, completely unintuitive and new-user-hostile, but quick and elegant in its own way.

Also like vi, it uses more fingers than you’re used to (all 5 buttons!) and builds complex operations by chaining together primitives. It does not try to do everything; there are plenty of better clients for defining hotkeys, setting your background image, etc. Even switching between desktops is handled by a tiny included command (aedesk).

Menus are also handled by separate programs; everything is launched by clicking on the root window. aewm makes it easy for you to keep the edges of the root window unobscured, so that you have essentially infinite space to click without having to aim (this principle is based on Fitts’s Law). There is intentionally no panel or dock to get in the way.

aewm does not make decisions about where your windows should go. It can be used as an ordinary overlapping window manager, but is powerful enough to let you “tile” windows ad hoc if you prefer; maximizing space usage and removing overlaps are basic commands. You can also optionally take control of window mapping and change where windows will appear (including stacking and tiling) before they are actually shown.