Add a real tiling window manager in KDE — the one-minute setup

Bouteiller < A2N > Alan
4 min readOct 11, 2023
Bismuth in action on KDE

The purpose of this story is to add a real TWM to our Linux with Bismuth.

A YouTube video is also available here !

So you want to add a tiling window manager to KDE. You’re in the right place !

And for that we are going to use the Bismuth package, available on GitHub.

But you’re going to tell me that this feature is already available in plasma 5. And you’re right ! With the version 5 of Plasma, we can use super+T to show and use a tiling utility.

The native plasma TWM

But I don't like this solution at all because it doesn’t automatically tile my windows and I cannot dynamically switch between different layout. And these two features are mandatory for me.

In the old days I have used Krohnkite, but the package is not maintained anymore, so I used Bismuth that is a kind of fork of Krohnkite.

🚀 Installation

Because I use EndeavorOS, I just have to use the AUR package (https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/kwin-bismuth) :

yay -S kwin-bismuth

In the repository, you have another options if you use other Linux distribution.

⌨️ Settings & shortcut

After the installation process, we just have to go to the system settings, and then the window management tab and the window tiling sub-tab.

In this page, you can modify all the options you want :

  • separate layouts for each activity or virtual desktop
  • add restriction
  • choose the layouts you want in the customize layouts button

In the window rules button, you can add option for specific program to be ignored or float.
In the appearance tab, you have the opportunity to add gutter between each window.

If you want to have a border color around the active window, you have to go to the Appearance tab and window decorations sub-tab and select the bismuth decorations.
This has the effect to remove the title bar of all the windows and add a colored border around the active window.

The final step is to check if the shortcut is ok for you and for that you just have to go to the shortcut tab and window tiling sub tab.

The only downside I found of this solution, is that the package is not under active development because the original developer have not the time for that. So if you want to help, go to the GitHub repository and check for the current issues.

This has the effect to include in the script some weird user experience like :

  • when the script is load for the first time, after a boot for example, no gutter is applied, so I have to hit my shortcut for switching between layout to actually have them applied
  • we don’t have the possibility to set up the default layout, so it always starts with the first layout you have checked on the settings list

🍷 Another tips

Another tip I want to share with you is some tricks to handle some weird behavior with windows that have a mandatory minimum width, for example the system settings window.

The problem is pretty straight forward, if your actual layout doesn’t have enough space left for handling the width of the window, the window overlaps the other window.

With the following rules (system settings, window management, window rules) you can avoid that :

Another behavior that is odd sometime is Dolphin that have a wrong size too, even if there are no another windows.

For avoiding that, we can apply the following rule :

And that’s it folks :)
See you later for another one !

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