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Window manager

Sawfish is an extensible window manager using an Emacs Lisp-like scripting language. All window decorations are configurable, the basic idea is to have as much user-interface policy as possible controlled through the Lisp language.

Despite this extensibility, its policy is currently very minimal compared to most window managers. Its aim is simply to manage windows in the most flexible and attractive manner possible. As such it does not implement desktop backgrounds, applications docks, or other things that may be achieved through separate applications.

All high-level wm functions are implemented in Lisp for future extensibility or redefinition. Currently this includes menus (using GTK+), interactive window moving and resizing, virtual desktop, iconification, focus/transient window policies, frame theme definitions and much more. Also, most received events are exported to the Lisp environment through key-bindings and hooks, similar to in Emacs. These events include pointer behavior and many internal X11 events (enter/leave, focus-in/focus-out, map/unmap, etc..)


Programmer's manual available in HTML format from

To read the Info manual, execute the command info sawfish, or enter the Info mode within Emacs (`C-h i') and type g (sawfish) RET.

"IRC irc:// " IRC general channel

Related Projects


LicenseVerified byVerified onNotes
GPLv2orlaterMatt Kraai27 October 2000

Leaders and contributors

Christopher Bratusek Maintainer

Resources and communication

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Software prerequisites

Kind Description
Required to build librep 0.13 or later
Required to build rep-gtk 0.14 or later
Required to build GNU make
Required to build imlib

This entry (in part or in whole) was last reviewed on 7 January 2017.


Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the page “GNU Free Documentation License”.

The copyright and license notices on this page only apply to the text on this page. Any software or copyright-licenses or other similar notices described in this text has its own copyright notice and license, which can usually be found in the distribution or license text itself.

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