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Developer(s)David Hogan (dhog)
Initial release1994; 29 years ago (1994)
Stable release
1.4.2[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 19 January 2022
Written inC
Operating systemUnix-like
TypeWindow manager
Websiteunauthorised.org/dhog/9wm.html Edit this on Wikidata

9wm is an open source stacking window manager for X11, written by David Hogan (dhog) in 1994 to emulate the Plan 9 Second Edition window manager, . Many later minimalist window managers for X were either inspired by, or directly derived from, 9wm. 9wm takes only 0.4 MB in RAM.[2]

The README file in the 9wm source distribution describes it like so:[3]

9wm is an X window manager which attempts to emulate the Plan 9 window manager 812 as far as possible within the constraints imposed by X. It provides a simple yet comfortable user interface, without garish decorations or title-bars. Or icons. And it's click-to-type.


9wm does not support a menubar, titlebars, maximize, multiple desktops, desktop shortcuts, theming or a desktop wallpaper.

A right click on the root window (desktop) opens a context menu providing window operations (move, resize, delete, hide); a list of up to 32 hidden windows which may be unhidden by selecting from the menu; and a command to launch a terminal emulator (typically 9term). Applications are launched via terminal only, and there is no additional task switching facility.

9wm uses a click to focus model and requires a three-button mouse. There are no keyboard controls or XKeys support. New windows are drawn by prompting the user to "sweep out" a screen rectangle for the window, which may be considered focus stealing if an application unexpectedly requests a new window. Window borders originally did nothing but indicate focus—draggable borders for move and resize were eventually added to rio in Plan 9 from Bell Labs and Plan 9 from User Space.

9wm is written in C using the Xlib toolkit and has no other dependencies. An undocumented -nostalgia option enables a Blit cursor, which John Mackin insisted on.

Resizing windows[edit]

Window geometry is described by "sweeping out" a rectangle on the screen, i.e. by clicking and holding the right button at one corner of the desired rectangle, moving the mouse to the diagonally opposite corner, and releasing the button. Placing new windows and resizing existing windows are done by sweep operations.

Relicensing following creator's death[edit]

During the period when 9wm was maintained by David Hogan, the license was as follows:[3][4]


  9wm is free software, and is Copyright (c) 1994 by David Hogan.
  Permission is granted to all sentient beings to use this software,
  to make copies of it, and to distribute those copies, provided

      (1) the copyright and licence notices are left intact
      (2) the recipients are aware that it is free software
      (3) any unapproved changes in functionality are either
            (i) only distributed as patches
        or (ii) distributed as a new program which is not called 9wm
                and whose documentation gives credit where it is due
      (4) the author is not held responsible for any defects
          or shortcomings in the software, or damages caused by it.

  There is no warranty for this software.  Have a nice day.

After the death of David Hogan, the succeeding maintainers going by the name "The Estate of David Hogan" relicensed version 1.1 and later versions under the MIT License.

9wm derivatives and 9wm-inspired window managers[edit]


  1. ^ "Release 1.4.2 · 9wm/9wm · GitHub".
  2. ^ "A Memory Comparison of Light Linux Desktops | l3net – a layer 3 networking blog". l3net.wordpress.com. 2013-03-17. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  3. ^ a b "9wm Version 1.1". Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  4. ^ "evilwm 1.0 by Ciaran Anscomb". 2018-03-27. Retrieved 2020-01-11.

External links[edit]