Exploring Awesome WM, my preferred window manager

Exploring Awesome WM, my preferred window manager

A few weeks ago, I decided to switch from my latest desktop (Bugdie) to window managers. During my early experiences with Conectiva, Mandrake, and Slackware, I used Blackbox and thought it was fantastic, but I didn't know how to configure things at the time.

So I went back to KDE after trying GNOME, Deepin, Pantheon, XFCE and Bugdie. I became a distro Hopper ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ, looking into Desktop and enjoying and hating desktop behaviors. I never found a desktop that was comfy for me.

Why am I here using AwesomeWM rather than I3, BSPWM, XMonad, and other options? I haven't tried any of them yet, but the default theme and menu are similar to the old Blackbox and Fluxbox, and I'm not a Lua highlander developer ๐Ÿ”ฅ, but the language is too simple, and in a few weeks I discovered various references at Git and significant AwesomeWM instructions, for developing my own dotfiles and widgets.

Before diving into AwesomeWM, let's take a quick look at Window Managers.

Window Manager

Is a software component that handles the placement and appearance of windows in an operating system's graphical user interface (GUI). It is in charge of managing the graphical elements on the screen, such as windows, icons, and other graphical elements, and it allows the user to interact with these items.

There are various types of window managers, which can be essentially divided into two categories:

Stacking Window Managers: These allow windows to overlap and allow the user to bring any window to the foreground by clicking on it: Blackbox, Openbox, Fluxbox and Window Maker are examples of stacking window managers

Tiling Window Managers: Tiling window managers organize windows so that they do not overlap. They tile windows to fill the available screen space automatically, which can be more efficient for certain tasks. Instead of using a mouse, users often browse between windows using keyboard shortcuts: I3, Awesome, BSPWM, DWM, XMonad, QTile and Hyprland are examples of tiling window managers.

It's important to note that tiling manager features arrive to come, so desktops as GNOME and KDE introduced tiling features.


At first, this is "Awesome WM" without any cosmetic changes.

Awesome Window Manager is a highly customizable, dynamic tiling window manager for the X Window System (the windowing system used by Linux and other Unix-like operating systems). It is intended to be incredibly versatile and adaptable, giving users complete control over the layout and appearance of their desktop environment.

You can do everything you want with done widgets or by yourself with Lua development. I admit that I mixed the two. Creating something from scratch requires too much of you, and you can grow bored fixing and running it for too long, therefore I decided to base my theme on CopyCats. Because there are so many specifications involved in an environment, such as network, CPU, RAM, Graphic Card, Sound Card, Microphone, and so on, certain things may not work at first or with default settings.

CopyCats is a collection of themes on which you can tweak or build your own.

Template file

AwesomeWM has a file called rc.lua that contains all of the rules, behaviors, and styles for windows. This file contains comments that separate the template settings into sections.

The file is located by default at /etc/xdg/awesome/rc.lua, and you must copy it to your home location to make your changes.

sudo cp /etc/xdg/awesome/rc.lua $HOME/.config/awesome/00.rc.lua

I have no intention of describing a full template, but I will highlight key areas to demonstrate how AwesomeWM works.

You can attach instructions or functions to a menu or sub-menu, but keep in mind that you can use launcher to execute your apps, of which I choose Rofi.

-- {{{ Menu
-- Create a launcher widget and a main menu
myawesomemenu = {
   { "hotkeys", function() hotkeys_popup.show_help(nil, awful.screen.focused()) end },
   { "manual", terminal .. " -e man awesome" },
   { "edit config", editor_cmd .. " " .. awesome.conffile },
   { "restart", awesome.restart },
   { "quit", function() awesome.quit() end },

Tags (environments)

You can have as many environments as you desire, and you can access them with the (โŠž window key + arrows) shortcut.

screen.connect_signal("request::desktop_decoration", function(s)
    -- Each screen has its own tag table.
    awful.tag({ "1", "2", "3", "4", "5", "6", "7", "8", "9" }, s, awful.layout.layouts[1])


You can define or edit any keybinding. The shortcut (โŠž window key + s) displays guidelines for all shortcuts defined in your template, which is very useful.

    awful.key({ modkey,           }, "s",      hotkeys_popup.show_help,
              {description="show help", group="awesome"})


Wibar is highly adaptable; you may specify a widget or group, as well as determine alignment, spacing, and margins. I tried using Polybar at first, but I didn't like the outcome. However, if you want to switch to another Window Manager, Polybar works in the majority of them.

s.mywibox = awful.wibar {
position = "top",
screen   = s,
widget   = {
    layout = wibox.layout.align.horizontal,
    { -- Left widgets
        layout = wibox.layout.fixed.horizontal,
    s.mytasklist, -- Middle widget
    { -- Right widgets
        layout = wibox.layout.fixed.horizontal,

Now we'll look at templates. I don't recommend employing templates as your final work; instead, separate them into numerous files. Divide and conquer is usually a good method for organizing and keeping your code as professional as possible. Everything in the template is grouped together on purpose to present all settings in a single file; this file is a dump.


In the same way that XFCE utilizes compiz to add blur, transparency, and graphical effects to windows, we must use picom to add cosmetic features to Awesome WM.

My Awesome WM theme

After weeks of working in this environment, I created something I enjoyed; there is still more work to be done, but I'm happy with my shortcuts and environment feedback. My son accompanied me on this journey and was continuously saying to me, "let me see your little top bar" or "barrinha" in Portuguese.

This theme was named Ebenezer ๐Ÿชจ, which meaning "stone of helper.".

The quote is from I Samuel 7. After defeating the Philistines, Samuel raises his Ebenezer, declaring that God defeated the enemies on this spot. As a result, "hither by thy help I come." So I hope this stone helps you in your environment and, more importantly, in your life. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟ

Of course, this top-bar is inspired by others, but I keep what's really important to me to monitor and track, memory, temperature, and CPU, and when something exceeds the indicators colors change, similar to our dashboards at developer context. The battery exhibits the same expected behavior.

I appreciate the idea of keybindings, but for some tasks, I utilize mouse behaviors, such as microphone muting, opening wifi-manager, and tool tips that provide useful information such as wifi signal, current brightness, and battery state.

Following that, I'll explain what this implementation does, and you can clone it if you like; this theme is incredibly adaptable. I'm attempting to keep everything changeable via ini files, therefore there's a file called config.ini where you can customize style and behaviors.

The config.ini

weather_api_key=api_weather_key # openweathermap.org
city_id=your_city_id # openweathermap.org
wallpaper_slideshow=on # [off] wallpaper solo
wallpaper=$HOME/Pictures/Wallpapers/active.jpg # wallpaper solo
wallpaper_dir=$HOME/Pictures/Wallpapers # when wallpaper_slideshow=on you should inform wallpapers directory 

brightness_level=light -G
brightness_level_up=xbacklight -inc 10
brightness_level_down=xbacklight -dec 10
power_manager=xfce4-power-manager --no-daemon
cpu_thermal=bash -c "sensors | sed -rn \"s/.*Core 0:\\s+.([0-9]+).*/\1/p\""
volume_level=pactl list sinks | grep '^[[:space:]]Volume:' | head -n $(( $SINK + 1 )) | tail -n 1 | sed -e 's,.* \([0-9][0-9]*\)%.*,\1,'

browsers=firefox chromium-browser microsoft-edge
editors=code-oss sublime atom

list=๎ ‹ ๎ฎŽ ๎ซ“ ๎จจ ๎‹‡ ๎ŒŒ

left_widgets=tag_list separator task_list
right_widgets=weather cpu_temp cpu mem arrow arrow_volume arrow_microphone arrow_network arrow_battery arrow_systray arrow_pacman arrow_brightness arrow_logout arrow_layoutbox

picom=picom --config $THEMES/picom.conf
lock_screen=light-locker --lock-after-screensaver=10 &
desktop_policies=lxpolkit # default file polices (open files from browser)
multiple_screen=exec ~/.config/xrandr/startup.sh "1366x768" # type xrandr to check supported mode

font=Fira Code Nerd Font Bold 10
font_regular=Fira Code Nerd Font Medium 9
font_light=Fira Code Nerd Font Light 10
font_strong=Fira Code Nerd Font 12
font_strong_bold=Inter Bold 12
font_icon=Fira Code Nerd Font 11


As you can see, there are numerous settings, however I must admit that there are numerous items to include in this file.


Changing the wallpaper when using the slide show mode

Screenshot desktop, window, delayed and area

The screenshot default place is $HOME/Pictures/Screenshots

Notifications feedback's

Launcher (rofi)

Lock screen (i3lock)



๐ŸŽฎ Not only a coder, but also a daddy developer, I was playing Roblox with my son while Wine Vinegar consuming and harming my CPU.

Features development

Some features were created from scratch, while others were discovered on Github and changed to my way and style.

If you feel the same way I do, where KDE, GNOME, Mate, XFCE, Cinnamon are too much for you, go with Awesome WM, which is my dotfiles:

GitHub - williampsena/dotfiles: This repository includes my dotfiles for Awesome Window Manager.
This repository includes my dotfiles for Awesome Window Manager. - GitHub - williampsena/dotfiles: This repository includes my dotfiles for Awesome Window Manager.

That's all folks

In this piece, I'll explain how Awesome WM works and give some useful dotfiles. As a developer, I hope you find this material valuable on a daily basis.

I'll see you again soon, and please keep your kernel ๐Ÿง  up to date and God bless ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟ you.