Hi everybody!

GNU/Linux is famous for being a operation system full of alternatives and endless customization. If the huge amount of ready-to-use distro don’t satisfy you, if you’re looking for something extremely lightweight or if you want to use a PC with just the software that you need and no more, well, then there is no best way to install everything by yourself!

Here I’m going to install and configure JWM, a lightweight stacking Window Manager.

You can find it as the default Window Manager of some Linux distro, such as: Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux and Manjaro JWM edition.

I’m going to install JWM on a fresh Ubuntu Server Installation with the X server already installed, I wrote a “How To” if you like to reproduce the same settings as mine.

Alright, then to install JWM we simply type:

sudo apt-get install jwm


then to start JWM run:



or (if other installed components launches instead of JWM):

startx /usr/bin/jwm


Then JWM should start in all it’s minimalistic beauty!


to close JWM select exit from it’s menu


or run:

jwm -exit

By monitoring the RAM usage it’s clear that this is a truly lightweight Window Manager!

55M Without JWM and X


76.5M with JWM, X and Xterm


Pretty impressive numbers consider that out of the box a set up like this one offers all the basic utilities to suit the vast majority of PC users:

  • the ability to resize/minimize windows
  • a menu to launch an application, lock the screen, and exit
  • a “show desktop” button
  • a workspace switcher
  • a task list to switch between applications
  • a clock

Anyway JWM it’s pretty easy to configure and modify to satisfy different needs.

There is a default configuration file which can be copied to the home directory.

cp /etc/jwm/system.jwmcr ~/.jwmrc


the -i variable ask to confirm to overwrite whenever a file is already there.
If you’re using a different distro and can’t find the file just type:

find / -name *jwmrc 2>/dev/null

At this point you can restart JWM either from the mune or by running:

jwm -restart

to already see some changes.


Alright now with a text-editor I’m going to modify the config file (written in XML):


First of all I like to add some custom key bindings, to easily launch some applications:


I like to use the “mod4” buttons as mask to launch the shortcut, it correspond by default to both Windows/Apple logo buttons.
For other info about which mask can be used check the JWM configuration documentation under “Key Bindings”. Or tweak the defaults with xmodmap.

As I’m doing all this in a virtual machine it would be good to give JWM some more space by resizing my VM windows size.

To do this remember that the virtualbox-guest-x11 package needs to be installed