I currently have a Java application that interacts with a web application.

The Java application is launched first and becomes a full screen application; then chromium-browser is launched on top of it and also becomes a full screen application.

I would like to be able to switch back and forth between these two applications.

Is there a way to be able to go back and forth between making these applications visible / the top most using only X and not using a window manager? I don't have a lot of resources for running a typically full-featured window manager.

Machine Info: Linux Debian 8 i386, single monitor, single display, 4GB disk, 2GB RAM, no swap

$ xdpyinfo | grep version
   version number:    11.0
   X.Org version: 1.16.4

I've tried using wmctrl and xdotools but you need a window manager for those. I keep getting errors such as

Your windowmanager claims not to support _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW, so the attempt to query the active window aborted. xdo_get_active_window reported an error


Cannot get client list properties. (_NET_CLIENT_LIST or _WIN_CLIENT_LIST)

  • 2
    Can't you use a very light window manager like Openbox or i3wm?
    – Renan
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:48
  • If it's absolutely necessary, and takes up less than 1MB of space, I can. I've tried 9wm, lwm and xmonad, but I have not had any luck.
    – Wimateeka
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:49
  • What did not work about those? Have you tried dwm? Without a Window manager of some kind it will be more difficult to manage your X windows in the manner you described. There are solutions but you will need to install software and at a limit of less than 1 MB of space that will severely limit your options.
    – kemotep
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:02
  • I'm pretty sure you need a window manager. If you can run Chromium, you can run a lightweight window manager. I'd qualify Openbox, i3wm and xmonad as medium-weight. There are plenty of lighter ones; I don't have a particular recommendation, but do browse the comprehensive list and Wikipedia. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:06
  • If you have a limit of 1 MB, you can try to write your own window manager that does nothing except switch between those applications. Have a look at XRaiseWindow. How do you want to switch? With a special key sequence?
    – dirkt
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


I solved my problem by using a small package called alttab: https://github.com/katcaola/alttab

To run it with no window manager, you call it with the flags alttab -w 0.

You can either build/compile the source, or you can install via apt-get (See install instructions here) and be sure to read the window manager setup page.

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