My question is essentially if I can fake the behaviour one gets using usual window managers on linux if one has a dual head setup. That is, if I maximize a window it maximizes only on one part of the desktop, matching the area of one physical display. I have only one screen, but it has a fairly large resolution and most of the time I will want to work on multiple separate windows, horizontally tiled.

I have heard about tiling window managers, but all I know are more like corner groups and do not behave like other common window managers (xfwm, compiz). I am currently using xfwm, and would like to stick with it if possible. If this task requries, I'd prefer one which either behaves similar to the common ones out of the box or for which ready configuration is available.

The first hack which came into my mind was trying to fake the information xrandr gives about the screen geometry and fool the window manager using that approach, but this seems like a healy hack which should not be neeccessary.

I'm using fedora linux, but I'm also fine with building the software myself if its not in the package management.

  • Maximizing is a feature of the window manager. It's a command that resizes the window to match the screen size. So you're looking for a window manager where you can have a button (menu entry, key binding, whatever) that resizes the active window to half the screen. A programmable window manager such as Sawfish should do this easily; xfwm isn't very flexible, so you'd probably have to hack the source. – Gilles Jul 12 '12 at 23:00
  • Both KDE and Ubuntu's Unity are able to maximize windows to just half of screen by dragging the window to the screen edge or by a keyboard shortcut. I'm not sure, but I think that in Unity it is implemented as a compiz plugin – Sergey Jul 13 '12 at 1:00
  • @Sergey Gnome-shell does that too, but I would prefer to stick to XFce (and you cannot have gnome-shell's WM without gnome-shell and vice versa). I would have to do some battery benchmarking on KDEs window manager if thats the only option. – Jonas Schäfer Jul 13 '12 at 9:56
  • @Gilles So maybe I should allocate a week or so for driving through the corner window managers (awesome, sawfish, ...) out there and see which one is the one I can most easily modify to suit my needs. – Jonas Schäfer Jul 13 '12 at 9:58

If you can use Compiz, there's this thing called Grid (if I remember the name correctly). I'm not sure if xfwm has something like this, you could check it out.

Also I'd strongly recommend trying out different WM paradigms if they could be more fitting, i.e. don't omit tiling WMs just because they're not common.

If you insist on being able to tile windows without changing your WM, there are separate (3rd-party) utilities to do that. One list is at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager#Third_party_tiling_applications_on_Xorg

  • Thanks for the suggestions first of all. I'll have a detailed look later on, as I'm currently not having the time to really try out WMs. – Jonas Schäfer Jul 19 '12 at 10:57

Okay, I am using awesome for several months now on my notebook. After some frustrating initial configuration, it paid off. Bonus: With Fedora 18, it's in the official repositories.

Awesome provides tiling window manager facilities with several reasonable tiling presets (the one using the golden ratio is my most often used one currently). The lua configuration is easy to modify to your needs if you know some basic lua and/or have some intuition about programming. Especially on the notebook and while coding I find awesome really helpful, as you can do everything you need using the keyboard. It takes some time to accustom to awesome and some time to make awesome accustom to the own needs. One might stumble across default settings like focus-follows-mouse and the odd loading order and error handling for configuration (awesome will try to load the user-config first, if that fails (either not found or parser error), it'll load the system wide, takes some time to find out why config changes won't take effect).

So, if one has the requirement stated in my question solely for the purpose of seamlessly working with multiple (maximized, i.e. screen-filling) windows on one large screen, awesome (or any other tiling WM for that matter) is the right choice.

Also, with recent XFce versions, the XFWM window manager supports easy maximizing to screen halfs (both vertically and horizontally) by dragging a window towards the screen border.

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