Tiling in XFCE

I’m looking for the best option to enable i3-style tiling in XFCE. What are my best options?

My use case is this: I use a lot of GUI programs, mainly PHP Storm, Gitkraken, Firefox, IMs, Inkscape, GIMP. I’ve tried out i3, but not all the gui programs would behave nicely. Maybe i3 is more geared towards terminal programs?

This is getting more and more important for me as I plan to get an ultrawide monitor and screen splitting will be crucial. I already have shortcuts for snap to half screen left, right, top, bottom. XFCE provides this and works great. I need to split 1920px + rest of the screen width instead of 50%-50%.

I know there’s been some ideas thrown around in some thread or other regarding this, but i can’t seem to find any of them. Maybe group them here?

Try zentile…


I have had good luck with zentile as well. It was a bit dated the last time I tried it but it still seemed to work well.

Also, xfce can easily be integrated to run i3 as its window manager. I’ve run xfce with i3 on a number of occasions. The only place I ever seem to get held up and irritated is with hibernation. I can never figure out the right combination of the config file with the xfce power settings to get it working properly. Otherwise the two play very well together.


Thanks for the tip, both of you. I’ve installed zentile and have tried configuring it, after a minor setback it seems to work. I’ll play with the various shortcuts over the weekend and see if I can get used to it and if it increases my productivity.

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The only thing I disliked about it (or I never either figured out or bothered to figure out) was how to swap out the master window. But otherwise it seemed very straight forward to use. I think it’s a great little program/script. I don’t know why it’s not maintained - wait I just checked AND IT IS again! I was using it from like 2016 last year I think. I’d honestly probably still be using xfce had krohnkite not worked so well on plasma. It looks like ctrl+shift+m will make the master now. That’s very exciting! I was very impressed before, and it looks even better.

I think with all of the hype around tiling wm right now, I’m not surprised someone started to maintain it again.

Also thanks for the tip. Zentile works very well. Have been looking for something useful for XFCE for a while. But Zentile starts automatically only on workspace 1. Does anyone have a workable solution that Zentile starts on all workspace?

No knowledge here (haven’t tried it yet) but in the absence of an obvious config option, I would look into using wmctrl to switch workspaces, and issue the ‘tile this workspace’ command…

Zentile runs only in the current workspace, if you want to do it for all, you can write a script to switch workspaces with for example xdotool.
xdotool get_num_desktops gets the number of desktops
xdotool set_desktop x sets the desktop to x (starts at 0, so remember to subtract 1 from the workspace index if you don’t think like a programmer).
you can put this logic in scripts and bind it to your preferred shortcuts (and have the script also tile the workspace, via sending a keyboard event). Only trouble is that it will not work with the mouse. Shortcut to tile workspace by default, btw, is ctrl+shift+t.

@st3ma FWIW You might consider exploring the use of Openbox (rather than xfce) and manually setup up tiling. That works well…

Another tiler that allows a good mix of tiled & stacked variations is i3wm.

Rumor is @fbodymechanic did a pretty decent write up on using i3wm inside of XFCE. @st3ma and @manyroads you may find it interesting to check out. He’s always looking for feedback too.

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Thanks for the good solution with xdotool.
I have now written a small script for all workspaces (except number 1). The script is executed by shortcut.
Works very well.

xdotool set_desktop 1 && sleep 0,2 && xdotool key ctrl+shift+t &

If I have time, I try the combination of I3 or xmonad with XFCE.

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Try xpytile https://github.com/jaywilkas/xpytile/
which It is a tiling helper for Xfce and supports an unlimited number of desktops
and also resizes side-by-side windows simultaneously.

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