A Sampling of KWin Tiling Scripts

KDE Tiling Solutions

Photo by Ralph Katieb on Unsplash

Photo by Ralph Katieb on Unsplash

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If you want to reap the benefits of tiling desktops on KDE Plasma, check out these KWin script extensions.

A tiling desktop arranges open windows in a grid. Linux abounds with them, including awesome, i3, XMonad, and dwm. Tiling desktops have always been popular among developers, but the average user has been slower to adopt them, probably because tiling is usually controlled from a keyboard rather than with a mouse. In addition, solutions such as virtual workspaces and Plasma Activities often are easier to use. Recently, however, tiling desktops have undergone a revival, partly due to the introduction of tiling in the last few Windows releases, and, more recently, thanks to Pop!_OS’s user-friendly desktop implementation.

But what if you want to use KDE Plasma? Then one of the various script extensions available for KWin, the Plasma window manager, may be just what you need. If some of the scripts described here are not as fully featured as a tiling desktop environment, many are more than enough for most users. What follows is not a complete list, just a representative one. For example, I don't include a family of scripts (among them Quick Tile 2 and Better Quick Tiles), which was designed to add features to KWin’s built-in Quick Tiles, because most of its features are now available routinely in other tiling scripts.

The Benefits of Tiling

Tiling is used primarily to reduce the clutter of open windows on the desktop. On a tiling desktop, each open window is always visible. There is no need for users to search through stacks of windows or to use a utility to minimize all open windows and show only the desktop. In addition, a window can be removed from the grid to float on top of others. If the size of the windows becomes too small, then a virtual workspace can be started to display the overflow. Loosely speaking, tiling can be compared to tabs on a web browser, with the exception that tiling is often harder to learn thanks to the use of keyboard controls.

KWin

Much like any window manager, KWin controls the look, size, and behavior of windows on the desktop, as well as other aspects of the desktop environment. As a look at Plasma’s System Settings shows, KWin is probably the most customizable window manager available.

Scripts are only a small portion of KWin’s features, and they are managed from System Settings | Workspace | KWin Scripts (Figure 1). Many scripts can be configured from System Settings |Shortcuts |KWin (Figure 2). KWin scripts can affect any part of the Plasma desktop, but, currently, the majority of scripts shipped in a KDE release are various tiling solutions. These solutions come and go quickly, and many disappear or are renamed between releases. Still others have to be installed separately. What follows is a sampling of solutions you might want to try. Each can be applied or unapplied at a click of a button, making exploring the different options efficient, although each solution tends to have its own keyboard shortcuts.

Figure 1: Installed scripts are enabled by clicking the Apply button in System Settings | Workspace | KWin Scripts.
Figure 2: You can configure scripts in System Settings | Shortcuts | KWin. Shown here are options for Krohnkite.

Tile Gaps

Spaces between windows on a grid often improve readability – so much so that i3-gaps was once forked from the i3 tiling manager to provide it. Technically, Tile Gaps is not a tiling manager by itself, but it achieves much the same effect. You may need to log out and in again for Tile Gaps to work. Some scripts provide gaps without Tile Gaps.

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