Comparison with other "extensible" WMs.

Added by teika kazura over 4 years ago

Hello, Subtle community. I'm Teika, a former developer of Sawfish WM.

I wrote a page Comparison of extensible window managers in Sawfish Wiki. Here, WMs "extensible" by scripting are compared. Let me tell you I've just added Subtle, and you may want to have a look, and explain more on Subtle.

One thing I'd like to ask is: does subtle have repl, i.e. is it possible to run a ruby script on the fly from terminals? To my surprise, Xmonad (haskell) and Qtile (python) don't. Repl makes tests really easy. (At the same time, it's also easy to shoot your feet on the fly. Sawfish can't recover from infinite loops.)

Let me propose one thing; the Subtle wiki is really well written, which is mainly geared towards newcomers. But the site top page,, is not for them - it doesn't provide anything interesting for those who want to know what Subtle is. (In fact, the other day I came to the top page, and I was disappointed. I don't remember how I found the wiki.) So adding a link to the wiki top would be nice.

Subtle looks very simple and easy to understand, thus fascinating. Xmonad's site is excellent, too, but the design looks more complicated, and haskell is abstruse. Too bad I don't speak ruby ;-).

Teika kazura

I run a small project of a hack which enables e.g. "space/shift" dual role key; if you press the space key alone, it's a space. But if you press it with other keys, it turns into shift. Any pairs of keys are possible. I believe it benefits users of keyboard oriented WMs, too.

If you're interested, visit

Replies (3)

RE: Comparison with other "extensible" WMs. - Added by Christoph Kappel over 4 years ago


thanks for adding subtle there, I just had a quick glance and I might fill in the gaps.

subtle has no real REPL, but an extension for ruby that can be used inside of the config and in external scripts. There also is subtler, a remote client that basically uses subtlext. That also has the benefit, that infinite loops just happen in your script or interactive shell (irb/pry) and not inside of the window manager. Sublets also use subtlext.

Well, is just the main url for all my public projects, or point directly to the wiki. Google for example likes to start on and follow all links, SEO is a pain, you know. ;)

When I first added a scripting language to subtle I chose lua but removed it after I fell in love with ruby. One of the main goals is to use the config without deep knowledge of the language, the DSL is really simple - at least for me.

Oh and thanks, one of the few comments that the wiki is nice. I usually just read complaints and when I ask them to improve it they refuse. ;)

Why do you need a double role of the space key in that way? You can easily bind stuff to space and shfit-space in subtle.

RE: Comparison with other "extensible" WMs. - Added by teika kazura over 4 years ago

Hi, Christoph. Thanks for your reply.

For the site top, how about a text like "for newbies", pointing to the subtle wiki top? And right, people don't keep Wiki. In Sawfish, users are in fact kind, innovative, and enthusiastic in the mailing list, but Wiki needs more love.

And thanks for choosing ruby. We've got python WM, Qtlie, too. Since ruby and python are good and popular script languages, it's nice for X users.

On my hack (if this digression is allowed here =): it enables: press space & x, and it's shift + x = X. Isn't it nice, pressing the shift with your thumb? Or in addition you can turn your Alt to Alt/Ret, too, for example.

I use Japanese keyboards (since I'm Japanese), and they have more keys around space bars, like this image. I don't use these keys for WMs, but now I can press Alt, Shift, Ctrl with my thumbs, and they also behave as Esc, BS, Space, Enter, and Tab.

Dunno if it's good, but you can for example turn the "real" Enter to Enter/W. Since it's a big key, it's easy to press. Left-handed people may be happy, manipulating windows with the left hand.


RE: Comparison with other "extensible" WMs. - Added by Christoph Kappel over 4 years ago

subtle is always the first project in the list, so I don't see how this is difficult to find and I rarely add directly to anything that says something about subtle? I add some hacks to this redmine to make it easier for users, like when you click on the project it now leads to the wiki instead of the project home which just shows some stats.

I am pretty happy about ruby here, the config and API is just not possible with other languages. ;)

Hm, I just lack the usecase for my, but it might be useful for other people tho. I have no problems of reaching any keys and I can map the keys that are pointless like capslock to something more useful like esc for me as vim user.

Still need to edit the sawfish wiki, it is a bit difficult to add the tiling idea of subtle there. It is stacking and tiling in a mix.