Awesome is a tiling Window Manager that can replace or live together with other desktop environments like Gnome and KDE.

NOTE: this page appears to be written for Ubuntu, please update to reflect your Debian experience


# apt-get install awesome

Optional (adds extra widgets):-

# apt-get install awesome-extra

Now, if you are using GDM or KDM, it should appear in the login window, so you can select Awesome instead of Gnome or KDE.
If it doesn't show up in the window manager list on the login screen edit /usr/share/xsessions/awesome.desktop, change NoDisplay=true to NoDisplay=false.

Hint: You can also write your own Xsession startup script and choose "System Default" in GDM or KDM.

This is a sample Xsession file, working at least on Debian Wheezy and Jessie (the file must be saved as $HOME/.Xsession):

gnome-screensaver &
gnome-settings-daemon &

export $(/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=pkcs11,secrets,ssh,gpg)

xrdb -cpp /usr/bin/cpp-4.7 -merge ~/.Xresources
xrandr --output HDMI2 --right-of HDMI1

exec awesome

If you are not using a login manager you should configure .xinitrc as usual, running awesome at the end of the script. In order to obtain certain privileges for your user (like being able to make the computer sleep and things like that), use ck-launch-session like this:

xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources #if you have Xresources
xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap #if you use xmodmap
nm-applet& #if you want to use network-manager
bluetooth-applet& #if you have bluetooth
volti& #this is a program to control audio volume ("apt-get install volti")
ck-launch-session awesome

If you want to use Awesome at the same time than Gnome or KDE of XFCE, there is good news: it is possible. All this information is on the Awesome official wiki (for example: Awesome with Gnome).


This window manager is mostly managed using the keyboard.

It first run in "normal" mode, but you should press win+space so it enters into tiling mode.

Press win+enter to open terminals.

Press win+l or win+h to enlarge or shrink windows.

Press win+j to go to the next window.

Learn more key commands by running:

man awesome


Unlike Gnome or KDE type desktops environments, Awesome is configured editing a "lua" source file located either in /etc/xdg/awesome/rc.lua or ~/.config/awesome/rc.lua.

It is recommended that you edit the file in your personal folder so your changes do not affect other users. You do so by coping the general file first:

$ mkdir ~/.config/awesome
$ cp /etc/xdg/awesome/rc.lua ~/.config/awesome/rc.lua

Now edit it:

$ nano ~/.config/awesome/rc.lua

Further configuration (highly recommended)

To get an idea of what you can do with awesome, it is recommended that you dedicate some time to fully configure it to your taste. It is recommended to investigate The official Awesome wiki.