created_at2019-04-03 14:19:20.889367
updated_at2023-11-16 11:51:34.064486
descriptionA window manager for Adventurers




A window manager for adventurers

build status wiki Documentation
discord Matrix Chat: Announcements Matrix Chat: General Matrix Chat: Support

Screenshot of LeftWM in action

IMPORTANT NOTE: LeftWM has changed the config language from TOML to RON with the 0.4.0 release. Please use leftwm-check --migrate-toml-to-ron to migrate your config and visit the wiki for more info.

Table of contents

Why go left

LeftWM is a tiling window manager written in Rust that aims to be stable and performant. LeftWM is designed to do one thing and to do that one thing well: be a window manager. LeftWM follows the following mantra:

LeftWM is not a compositor.
LeftWM is not a lock screen.
LeftWM is not a bar. But, there are lots of good bars out there. With themes, picking one is as simple as setting a symlink.

Because you probably want more than just a black screen, LeftWM is built around the concept of themes. With themes, you can choose between different bars, compositors, backgrounds, colors, docks, and whatever else makes you happy.

LeftWM was built from the very beginning to support multiple screens and ultrawide monitors. The default keybindings support ultrawide monitors and multiple screens.

One of the core concepts/features of LeftWM is theming

With LeftWM, there are two types of configuration files:

  • LeftWM Configuration files: LeftWM configurations are specific to you and don’t change for different themes. These are settings like keybindings, workspace locations, and names of desktops/tags. These settings can be found in ~/.config/leftwm/config.toml.

  • Theme Configuration files: The appearance of your desktop is different. It’s fun to try new looks and feels. It’s fun to tweak and customize the appearance (AKA: ricing). It’s fun to share so others can experience your awesome desktop! LeftWM is built around this concept. By pulling all these settings out into themes, you can now easily tweak, switch, and share your experiences. This configuration is spread between theme.toml and related files contained within a theme's folder.

Note: some example config and themes can be found in the share dir, e.g. /usr/share/leftwm oh Arch based disros.


While LeftWM has very few dependencies, this isn't always the case for themes. Themes typically require the following to be installed. However, this is up to the author of the theme and could be different.

List of LeftWM dependencies:

  • xorg (runtime, build): specifically libx11, xrandr, xorg-server, libxinerama
  • sh (runtime): any posix-compliant shell for starting up and down files
  • rust (build): >= 1.70.0
  • bash (optional): Most of the themes available use bash, though the scripts maybe converted to any posix-compliant shell

List of common dependencies for themes:

Ubuntu 20.4.1
sudo apt install {}
sudo pacman -S {}
Fedora 33
sudo dnf install {}
feh feh feh feh feh
compton compton picom compton compton
picom manual ** picom picom picom
polybar manual ** polybar polybar polybar
xmobar xmobar xmobar xmobar xmobar
lemonbar lemonbar paru -S lemonbar* manual ** lemonbar
conky conky conky conky conky
dmenu dmenu dmenu dmenu dmenu

* You can use whichever AUR wrapper you like. See paru and yay.
** See the git page (link in first column) for how to install these manually

Installation (with package manager)

Packaging status

Gentoo (GURU)

sudo layman -a guru && sudo emerge --sync
sudo emerge --ask --verbose x11-wm/leftwm

Archlinux (AUR)

paru -S leftwm

paru is an AUR helper like yay, but written in Rust.

Fedora (copr)

sudo dnf copr enable th3-s4lm0n/leftwm -y && sudo dnf install leftwm

NetBSD (Official repositories)

pkgin install leftwm

or, if you prefer to build it from source

cd /usr/pkgsrc/wm/leftwm
make install

Void (XBPS)

sudo xbps-install -S leftwm

Cargo (crates.io)

cargo install leftwm

If you install LeftWM with crates.io, you will need to link to the xsession desktop file if you want to be able to login to LeftWM from a display manager (GDM, SSDM, LightDM, etc.):

sudo cp PATH_TO_LEFTWM/leftwm.desktop /usr/share/xsessions

Also see the build options for more feature options, especially if you don't use systemd or want to use your own hotkey daemon like sxhkd.

OpenBSD (OpenBSD)

At the moment LeftWM is not packaged with OpenBSD package manager, but it could be installed via Cargo.

cargo install leftwm --no-default-features --features lefthk

leftwm-config not yet ported to OpenBSD, as it requires a nightly Rust compiler to build. The default config is generated by LeftWM when it is first started.

To start LeftWM with xenodm add the following to your ~/.xsession. Make sure to remove or comment-out the exec to the previous WM you had there.

exec dbus-launch ~/.cargo/bin/leftwm >> ~/.cache/leftwm.log 2>&1

Manual Installation (no package manager)

Using a graphical login such as LightDM, GDM, LXDM, and others

  1. Dependencies: Rust, Cargo

  2. Clone the repository and cd into the directory

    git clone https://github.com/leftwm/leftwm.git
    cd leftwm
  3. Build leftwm

    cargo build --profile optimized

    For more options see the build options section.

  4. Copy leftwm executables to the /usr/bin folder

    sudo install -s -Dm755 ./target/optimized/leftwm ./target/optimized/leftwm-worker ./target/optimized/lefthk-worker ./target/optimized/leftwm-state ./target/optimized/leftwm-check ./target/optimized/leftwm-command -t /usr/bin
  5. Copy leftwm.desktop to xsessions folder

    sudo cp leftwm.desktop /usr/share/xsessions/

You should now see LeftWM in your list of available window managers. At this point, expect only a simple black screen on login. For a more customized look, install a theme.

Optional Development Installation

If your goal is to continuously build leftwm and keep up to date with the latest releases, you may prefer to symlink the leftwm executables instead of copying them. If you choose to install this way, make sure you do not move the build directory as it will break your installation.

Note that if you want to build leftwm with another build profile, you will have to change the --profile <profile-name> option and the target folder to target/<profile-name>. Currently available are dev, release and optimized.

  1. Dependencies: Rust, Cargo

  2. Clone the repository and cd into the directory

    git clone https://github.com/leftwm/leftwm.git
    cd leftwm
  3. Build leftwm

    # With systemd logging (view with 'journalctl -f -t leftwm-worker')
    cargo build --profile optimized

    For more options see build options below.

  4. Create the symlinks

    sudo ln -s "$(pwd)"/target/optimized/leftwm /usr/bin/leftwm
    sudo ln -s "$(pwd)"/target/optimized/leftwm-worker /usr/bin/leftwm-worker
    sudo ln -s "$(pwd)"/target/optimized/lefthk-worker /usr/bin/lefthk-worker
    sudo ln -s "$(pwd)"/target/optimized/leftwm-state /usr/bin/leftwm-state
    sudo ln -s "$(pwd)"/target/optimized/leftwm-check /usr/bin/leftwm-check
    sudo ln -s "$(pwd)"/target/optimized/leftwm-command /usr/bin/leftwm-command
  5. Copy leftwm.desktop to xsessions folder

    sudo cp leftwm.desktop /usr/share/xsessions/

You should now see LeftWM in your list of available window managers. At this point, expect only a simple black screen on login. For a more customized look, install a theme.

Rebuilding the development installation

  1. Now if you want to get the newest version of leftwm run this command from your build directory:

    git pull origin main
  2. Build leftwm

    # With systemd logging (view with 'journalctl -f -t leftwm-worker')
    cargo build --profile optimized
  3. And press the following keybind to reload leftwm

    Mod + Shift + R

Optional Build Features

Since LeftWM is targeting to be more and more modular, there are a few features that can be selected at compile time:

Use cargo with the added flags --no-default-features --features= and then commaseparated a selection from the following features:

feature info default
lefthk built-in hotkey daemon, if you build with out make sure you bring your own (e.g. sxhkd) to manage any keybinds, be sure you install the lefthk-worker binary if you build with this option
journald-log logging to journald, depends on systemd
sys-log use standard system logging
file-log log to /tmp/leftwm/<log-file-by-datetime-of-launch>


# With `lefthk` and logging to `sys-log`
cargo build --profile optimized --no-default-features --features=lefthk,sys-log

# Without `lefthk` and logging to file
cargo build --profile optimized --no-default-features --features=file-log

There are also multiple levels of optimization. These are specified by the cargo profiles, available are dev, release and optimized. The dev and release profiles are default profiles used by cargo, whereas the optimized profile is recomended for production builds.


# With the dev profile
cargo build --profile dev

# With the release profile
cargo build --profile release

Using the Makefile

For conveniece we also have a Makefile with the following rules:

make ... info
all implies build and test
test runs same tests as CI on github
test-full same as test but additionally with pedantic clippy lints
test-full-nix same as test-full but additionally compiles the nix package, resulting in a full representation of ci checks
build builds with cargo profile optimized by default; read build output on how to change the profile.
clean clean all buildfiles
install install by copying binaries to /usr/bin, also places leftwm.desktop file to /usr/share/xsession and cleans build files
install-linked installs by symlinking, copies leftwm.desktop, no clean
uninstall removes leftwm-* files from /usr/bin and leftwm.desktop file

Note that for build, install and install-linked, you can specify the build profile to use by adding the profile=<profile-name> argument. Currently available are dev, release and release-optimized.

Starting with startx or a login such as slim

Make sure this is at the end of your .xinitrc file:

# .xinitrc
exec dbus-launch leftwm

On some distros like Archlinux, the environment variables are being setup by sourcing /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d, as described in the Arch docs, please make sure you copy the default xinitrc like this:

cp /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc ~/.xinitrc

Note: In this case it is not necessary to start leftwm through dbus-launch and might even result in some cases in services like gnome-keyring to fail. In such an occasion just use:

# .xinitrc
exec leftwm


If you want to see more than a black screen when you login, select a theme:

With LeftWM-Theme

leftwm-theme update
leftwm-theme install NAME_OF_THEME_YOU_LIKE
leftwm-theme apply NAME_OF_THEME_YOU_LIKE

Without LeftWM-Theme

mkdir -p ~/.config/leftwm/themes
cd ~/.config/leftwm/themes

LeftWM comes packaged with a couple of default themes. There is also a community repository for sharing themes.

For more information about themes check out our theme guide or the wiki.

Note: leftwm uses RON now as its default config language. Please consider migrating your toml configs.


You can configure key bindings, default mod key and many other options:

With LeftWM-Config

leftwm-config -n # Generate new config
leftwm-config    # Open configuration file in $EDITOR
leftwm-config -t # Edit configuration via TUI (Beta)

Without via editing the file


Note: The configuration file is automatically generated when leftwm or leftwm-check is run for the first time.

Note: leftwm uses RON now as its default config language. Please consider migrating your toml configs.

Default keys

Keybinding Description
Mod + (1-9) Switch to a desktop/tag
Mod + Shift + (1-9) Move the focused window to desktop/tag
Mod + W Switch the desktops for each screen. Desktops [1][2] changes to [2][1]
Mod + Shift + W Move window to the other desktop
Mod + (⬆️⬇️) Focus on the different windows in the current workspace
Mod + Shift + (⬆️⬇️) Move the different windows in the current workspace
Mod + Enter Move selected window to the top of the stack in the current workspace
Mod + Ctrl + (⬆️⬇️) Switch between different layouts
Mod + Shift + (⬅➡) Switch between different workspaces
Mod + Shift + Enter Open a terminal
Mod + Ctrl + L Lock the screen
Mod + Shift + X Exit LeftWM
Mod + Shift + Q Close the current window
Mod + Shift + R Reload LeftWM and its config
Mod + p Use dmenu to start application

Note: Although we encourage you to use Alacritty, LeftWM will set your default terminal to the first terminal it finds in this list (in the order presented):

  1. Alacritty
  2. Termite
  3. Kitty
  4. URXVT
  5. RXVT
  6. ST
  7. ROXTerm
  8. Eterm
  9. XTerm
  10. Terminator
  11. Terminology
  12. Gnome Terminal
  13. XFCE4 Terminal
  14. Konsole
  15. UXTerm
  16. Guake

Floating Windows

You can optionally switch between tiling or floating mode for any window.

Keybinding Description
Mod + MouseDrag Switch a tiled window to floating mode
Mod + RightMouseDrag Resize a window
Drag window onto a tile Switch a floating window to tiling mode
Mod + Shift + (1-9) Switch a floating window to tiling mode


By default, workspaces have a one-to-one relationship with screens, but this is configurable. There are many reasons you might want to change this, but the main reason is for ultrawide monitors. You might want to have two or even three workspaces on a single screen.

Here is an example config changing the way workspaces are defined (~/.config/leftwm/config.toml)

workspaces: [
    ( y: 0, x: 0, height: 1440, width: 1720 ),
    ( y: 0, x: 1720, height: 1440, width: 1720 ),

You may optionally specify an ID for your defined workspaces. This is helpful if you want to assign different gutter settings to each workspace in your theme.

workspaces: [
    ( y: 0, x: 0, height: 1440, width: 1720, id: 0 ),
    ( y: 0, x: 1720, height: 1440, width: 1720, id: 1 ),

NOTE You do not have to define an ID for each workspace, but if you assign an ID to one workspace all subsequently defined workspaces without an ID will be assigned an ID incrementing from the largest ID currently assigned to any workspace. In the above example if the second workspace was not defined with ID = 0 it would be assigned ID = 2. Keep this in mind when creating or customizing themes.

Tags / Desktops

The default tags are 1-9. They can be renamed in the config file by setting the list of tags.

Here is an example config changing the list of available tags. NOTE: tag navigation (Mod + #) doesn't change based on the name of the tag.

tags: ["Web", "Code", "Shell", "Music", "Connect"],


By default, all layouts are enabled. There are a lot of layouts so you might want to consider only enabling the ones you use. To do this add a layout section to your config.toml file. This enables only the layouts you specify.


layouts: ["MainAndHorizontalStack", "GridHorizontal", "Fibonacci", "EvenVertical", "EvenHorizontal", "CenterMain", "CenterMainFluid"],

Layouts may also be specified on individual workspaces, this is useful if you have monitors with different aspect ratios or orientation.


workspaces: [
    ( id: 0, y: 480, x: 0, height: 1600, width: 3840,
      layouts = ["CenterMain", "CenterMainBalanced", "EvenHorizontal"]),
    ( id: 1, y: 0, x: 3840, height: 2560, width: 1440,
      layouts = ["MainAndHorizontalStack", "EvenVertical"]),

NOTE When defining layouts per workspace, you will need to define workspace IDs explicitely.

More detailed configuration information can be found in the Wiki.

LeftWM is EWMH compliant

The default layouts are all of the kinds described by the Layout enum.


Issue Description Solution
LeftWM not listed by login manager You likely need to add the xsessions file to the right folder. See installation
No config.toml file exists LeftWM does not always ship with a config.toml. You will need to execute LeftWM at least once for one to be generated. Try the following: leftwm-worker
Config.toml is not being parsed LeftWM ships with a binary called leftwm-check. It might not be installed by the AUR. Try the following: leftwm-check
Keybinding doesn't work It's likely you need to specify a value or have a typo. See Wiki


LeftWM now has a Discord channel for faster help.

Commit count: 785

cargo fmt