A tiling, keyboard driven window manager

Upstream URL


Ryan Pavlik, Shawn Betts <>


David Bjergaard <>



The Stump Window Manager


StumpWM is a window manager written entirely in Common Lisp. It attempts to be highly customizable while relying entirely on the keyboard for input. You will not find buttons, icons, title bars, tool bars, or any of the other conventional GUI widgets.

These design decisions reflect the growing popularity of productive, customizable lisp based systems.


StumpWM is a "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink WM" or "the Emacs of WMs."


  • StumpWM is
    • Hackable
    • Written in Common Lisp
    • A multi paradigm window manager
    • A Superior window managing experience
  • StumpWM is not
    • Minimalist
    • Narrow scope
    • Configured by editing the source directly
    • A full blown desktop environment

If you want a minimalist tiling window manager, then StumpWM is not what you're looking for. The code base is ~15k lines, the binaries produced are ~60mb.

StumpWM manages windows the way emacs manages buffers, or the way screen manages terminals. If you want a flexible, customizable, hackable desktop experience, look no further.

Build & Start Stumpwm


  • SBCL
  • quicklisp (for obtaining the following dependencies; not needed if you use your distribution's package manager.)
  • clx
  • cl-ppcre
  • alexandria

The recommended way to install the dependencies is using Quicklisp. Follow the instructions at to install it. In short:

$ curl -O
$ sbcl --load quicklisp.lisp

Then at the REPL:


Make sure you have added it to your lisp init file using:


Then, in a repl:

 (ql:quickload "clx")
 (ql:quickload "cl-ppcre")
 (ql:quickload "alexandria")

Note: The recommended way to install SBCL is by downloading one of their pre-built binaries available in their web page or build it from source. Please do not install SBCL using your distributions package manager, especially Ubuntu. If you do so it is likely that you'll run into problems when building StumpWM due to using obsolete versions of the dependencies.


Building stumpwm from git requires that you build the configure script:


Then run it:


Now build it:


If all goes well, you should have a stumpwm binary now. You can run the binary from where it is (starting it with X) or install it, along with the .info documentation, with:

 make install

Now that you have a binary, call it from your ~/.xinitrc file:

 # The default path is /usr/local/bin/stumpwm
 echo /path/to/stumpwm >> ~/.xinitrc

Hopefully that will put you in X running stumpwm! See StartUp on the wiki for more examples.


Pull requests are always welcome! Here are some guidelines to ensure that your contribution gets merged in a timely manner:

  • Do's
    • Add your name to the list of AUTHORS with your pull request.
    • Preserve comments or docstrings explaining what code does, and update them if your patch changes them in a significant way
    • Try to follow an "80 column rule." The current code base does not follow this all the time, so don't use it as an example
    • If you export a symbol, you must add it to the manual.
    • Use lisp idioms
    • If you are working on a major change to the internals, keep us informed on stumpwm-devel! Also, it will probably help if the changes are made and then incrementally applied to the codebase in order to avoid introducing show-stopping bugs.
    • Run ./ci before making a pull request to confirm that the GitHub workflow will succeed.
  • Do not's
    • Include Emacs local variables
    • Change whitespace
    • Write lots of code without supporting comments/documentation
    • Delete comments or docstrings (yes this is a duplicate of above!)
    • Export symbols from packages that aren't widely useful (many times a little more thought will reveal how to implement your internal change without having to export/break encapsulation)
    • Make stylistic changes that suit your coding style/way of thinking

If you aren't a lisp hacker, you can contribute in the form of documenting and organizing the wiki. There's a lot of information floating around; if you find it where you didn't expect it, move or link to it in a more logical place.


Fancy yourself a lisp hacker? Here's a wishlist of features for the StumpWM universe (in no particular order):

  • float-splits (ie allow floating windows over tiled ones)
  • Float windows within parent applications (specifically dialogs in gimp or firefox).
  • tab-list showing the contents of the current frame at the side, top, or bottom of the frame
  • Emacs' iswitchb function implemented in emacs
    • Re-arranging windows between groups
    • Killing windows
    • Marking windows for batch operations
    • Deleting/adding groups
    • Import data from stumpwm to emacs, use an emacs minor mode to implement the above features, then export the data back to stumpwm and let stumpwm perform the appropriate actions
  • Emacs' completing-read-multiple function
  • Lock Screen (with support for leaving notes, bonus points if emacs is involved)
  • Wallpapers! (support pulling from remote sources, changing based on timers, and other hacky features)
  • Shutdown, restart, suspend, and hibernate functions that don't require root access
  • Revamped, mouse-friendly mode-line.
    • Support fixed number of chars for window titles
    • Dynamically trim window titles to fit them all on the mode-line
    • Split the mode-line into multiple cells for containing different information
    • Implement widget icons to indicate system status (new mail, low battery, network etc)
    • Support raising windows when left-clicked, closing/killing when right-clicked


There's a texinfo manual, stumpwm.texi. The build scripts generate an info file you can read in emacs or with the `info' program. The manual for the latest git version (may be slightly out of date) is available to read online at: The Manual

And, as in Emacs, you can always get documentation with:

C-t h vVariables
C-t h fFunctions
C-t h kKey sequences
C-t h cCommands
C-t h wFind key sequences for a command

For other stuff (tips tricks and examples) visit the stumpwm wiki

There's a #stumpwm channel on, too.

Finally, there's our mailing list (click to sign up)

Dependencies (4)

  • alexandria
  • cl-ppcre
  • clx
  • fiasco
  • GitHub
  • Quicklisp