personal fork of the fast floating wm

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A fast floating WM, with the particularity of having 2 borders, written over the XCB library and derived from mcwm written by Michael Cardell.
In 2bWM everything is accessible from the keyboard but a pointing device can be used for move, resize and raise/lower.
WARNING: This WM and this repository are experimental, 2bwm is only meant for advanced users.


mcwm's features

You can check what mcwm already had here:

  • Maximize horizontally
  • Maximize vertically
  • 10 virtual workspaces
  • Crash proof window placement
  • Snappy borders
  • Controlled entirely with the keyboard

2bwm features

2bwm brings a whole set of features to the table. Here is the exhaustive list:

  • Teleport windows in the corners
  • Teleport windows in the {top,middle,bottom} center
  • Teleport windows to cover a half of the monitor
  • Add offsets around the monitor
  • Multiply / Divide window's width or height by 2
  • Grow / Shrink windows keeping aspect ratio
  • Move / Resize windows by two user defined amount
  • 2 borders fully customizable that show the window status

resources comparison

When comparing compiled executables' size, 2bwm is 36KB, dwm is 33KB, dvtm 37KB, and i3 343KB.

raptor $ size /usr/local/bin/2bwm
    text   data    bss    dec    hex   filename
    29576   2456    780  32812   802c  /usr/local/bin/2bwm
raptor $ size /usr/bin/i3
    text    data    bss    dec    hex   filename
    284247  10020   5704 299971  493c3  /usr/bin/i3
raptor $ size /usr/local/bin/dwm
    text   data    bss    dec  hex   filename
    28802  1932    528  31262   7a1e  /usr/local/bin/dwm
raptor /usr/local/bin $ size dvtm
    text   data    bss    dec    hex    filename
    30955  2212  33408    66575  1040f  dvtm
raptor /usr/local/bin $ size monsterwm
    text   data    bss    dec    hex    filename
    17778  1428     72    19278  4b4e   monsterwm
% size /usr/local/bin/w9wm
    text   data     bss     dec     hex filename
    35325  3360     952   39637    9ad5 /usr/local/bin/w9wm
% size /usr/local/bin/evilwm
    text   data     bss     dec     hex filename
    39456  2080     600   42136    a498 /usr/local/bin/evilwm
% size /usr/local/bin/openbox
    text   data     bss     dec     hex filename
    316466 3572    2368  322406   4eb66 /usr/local/bin/openbox
% size /usr/local/bin/ctwm
    text   data     bss     dec     hex filename
    336742 12076    23840  372658   5afb2 /usr/local/bin/ctwm
raptor /usr/bin $ size awesome
    text   data     bss     dec     hex filename
    296570 1984    1832  300386   49562 awesome

Now for memory (RAM) usage (in KB): mcwm -- the wm 2bwm is based upon
dvtm -- a terminal multiplexer

 ~ > ps -eo args,size,vsize,rss 
 mcwm                          300   2480   668
 2bwm                          296   2672   728
 9wm                           296   3816  1160
 cwm                           584   7044  3308
 bspwm                         304   2872   964
 dwm                           300   5400  1384
 monsterwm                     304   3708  1008
 herbstluftwm                  316   5536  1844
 herbstclient --idle           312   5204  1224
 ctwm                          708   7112  2360
 twm                           964   6820  2552
 i3                           1400  14760  4248
 openbox                      1952  16412  736
 dvtm                         5624   9656  6256
 fbpanel                      3460 135928 14012

Notice that all those WM are really small and that size doesn't really matter in the end.

Panels / Status bar

2bwm does not come with any bar or panel. 2bwm will respect the _NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE_DOCK of windows, and ignore them, thus most panels should work. The following were tested and work with 2bwm:




2bwm depends on the XCB libraries, and some of them are quite new, so most systems won't have them installed by default. Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of the dependencies:

  • xcb-randr
  • xcb-keysyms
  • xcb-icccm
  • xcb-ewmh
  • xcb-xrm (this one is quite new)

If your system doesn't provide the above, or lacks some of them, you can download them here.

Note: xcb-xrm is not oficial yet, here's the link to the repo. Archlinux and Voidlinux have it in their repositories.

To build and install xcb-xrm, clone it and do the following commands:

cd xcb-util-xrm
git submodule update --init
./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr
sudo make install

Install it from your system's repositories in case it's available.


Available on the AUR: 2bwm 2bwm-git

Download and extract the tarball, then install it as a package:

$ curl -s 'https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/2b/2bwm/2bwm.tar.gz'|tar xzf -
$ cd 2bwm
$ ${EDITOR:=vi} config.h
$ makepkg
# pacman -U 2bwm-*.pkg.tar.xz


Available through z3bra's collection: 2bwm-git

$ httpup sync http://crux.z3bra.org/ports/#2bwm-git 2bwm-git
$ cd 2bwm-git
$ ${EDITOR:=vi} config.h
$ fakeroot pkgmk -d
# pkgadd 2bwm#*.pkg.tar.gz

Using pkgsrc

$ cd /usr/pkgsrc/wm/2bwm
$ make
# make install


Here's an ebuild by crshd 2bwm


Tweaks you need for 2bwm on OpenBSD: add /usr/X11R6/include to search path, install gcc-4.7, use CC=egcc make

From sources

In case 2bwm is not packaged for your distribution, you can compile and install it right from the sources

$ git clone git://github.com/venam/2bwm.git
$ cd 2bwm
$ ${EDITOR:=vi} config.h
$ make
# make install


No borders appear when using URxvt

This might be due to you .Xresources file. If you have URxvt.depth: 32 comment it.

Clickable areas with bar

The problem with https://github.com/u-ra/bar got solved by z3bra:

sed -i 's/RELEASE/PRESS/;s/release/press' bar.c

bar from lemonboy has rencently implemented the clickable feature so you'd rather use this one instead of the one from u-ra.

White java windows

If you experience problems with java GUI you can refer to this most probably doing export _JAVA_AWT_WM_NONREPARENTING=1 will resolve the problem.

Raising hidden windows

To show hidden windows you can use the hidden tool:

hidden -c|xargs 9menu -popup -label Iconics -font "terminus12-10"

Xresources configuration

These are the values 2bwm will try loading from Xresources at startup:

twobwm.border_width: number
twobwm.outer_border: number
twobwm.focus_color: #RRGGBB
twobwm.unfocus_color: #RRGGBB
twobwm.fixed_color: #RRGGBB
twobwm.unkill_color: #RRGGBB
twobwm.outer_border_color: #RRGGBB
twobwm.fixed_unkill_color: #RRGGBB
twobwm.inverted_colors: true|false
twobwm.enable_compton: true|false

Note: set enable_compton option to true in case you're using a composition manager.

mplayer borders aren't set on startup

A simple solution is to always use the video output as gl.

You can set it in your mplayer config $HOME/.mplayer/config:


Preventing X11 Crash

To prevent X to crash you can start the X session over your favorite terminal emulator. Here's an example of a .xinitrc file that will do that:

exec urxvt


2bwm yrmt 2bwm movements

Recommended Softwares

2bwm doesn't come with any third party software but it's nice to know what can help building up a complete working and effective system.

  • bar/panel
  • program launcher
  • notification system
  • terminal emulator


The following features are currently being implemented. Feel free to try and test them.

Text based config file


Active development


Make 2bwm source a plain text file to customize the application upon starting it.


Checkout the devel branch of the repo.

One border inside the other




Make the status border appear "within" the other border. This makes it look as if there were three borders.


Checkout the 3bwm branch of the repo


  • Fix the race condition bug that happens when switching workspaces too fast.

  • Fix the mapping issue with mplayer (doesn't have the issue when using -vo gl)

  • Bug related to gtkfilechooser dialog in telegram-desktop - needs more information to debug

  • Use the xcb_ewmh.h functions instead of that ugly hardcoded ATOM enum for example instead of the ATOM[atom_client_list] we could use xcb_ewmh_set_client_list

  • Toggable sticky workspace per monitor

  • Extended Window Manager Hints (EWMH)

  • A separate workspace list for every monitor. (CTRL+NUM)

    • get the cursor position (on which monitor)
    • unmap all window that are only on this monitor
    • map window on the workspace NUM that are on this monitor
    • problem with curws and remapping
    • curws could be associated with the focuswin instead
  • Check why the input focus doesn't work well with applications such as macopix


Big thanks for the help of the following persons:

  • nifisher
  • dcat
  • bidulock
  • Yrmt
  • maxrp
  • Z3bra
  • cicku
  • tbck
  • crshd
  • jolia
  • anshin

Thanks to the UnixHub/Nixers community for the support and ideas.
Thanks to Michael Cardell for starting it all.