Ion (window manager)

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Ion in use
Ion in use
Developer(s) Tuomo Valkonen[1][2]
Stable release
ion-3-20090110 (stable)[citation needed] / January 10, 2009; 9 years ago (2009-01-10)
Operating system Unix-like
Type Window Manager
License LGPL-like with naming restrictions

In Unix computing, Ion is a tiling and tabbing window manager for the X Window System. It is designed such that it is possible to manage windows using only a keyboard, without needing a mouse. It is the successor of PWM and is written by the same author, Tuomo Valkonen.[1][2] Since the first release of Ion in the summer 2000, similar alternative window management ideas have begun to show in other new window managers: Larswm, ratpoison, StumpWM, wmii, xmonad and dwm.

First versions of Ion were released under the Artistic License, Ion2 and the development versions of Ion3 were released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). However, the first release candidate of Ion3 included a license change to a custom license based on the LGPL (specifically modified versions must not use the name ion).[3]

Since version 2, Ion has been scriptable in Lua.[1][2]

As of September 17, 2009, Valkonen states he is unlikely to continue development of Ion by himself.[4]

The official home page went off-line in early 2010.

A fork, Notion, is being maintained.


Tuomo Valkonen, the author of Ion, has been at the center of several controversies concerning the licensing and distribution of his software, in particular the proclivity of major Linux and BSD distributions of making outdated development versions of Ion3 (the current unstable development branch) available as part of "frozen" software repositories. Often, such versions will include patches, such as for Xinerama or Xft support, both of which Valkonen disapproves on professional and personal grounds and has had removed from the main source tree. Yet, such distribution would seem to imply that the patched version is the official Ion3 package maintained by Valkonen himself, which he sees as unacceptable. Valkonen has even recently become an outspoken critic of the entire free software and open source movement (the "FOSS herd", as he refers to it)[5] due to his perceived mistreatment at the hands of several major distributions, including Arch Linux, Debian, pkgsrc (NetBSD, DragonflyBSD), and FreeBSD.[citation needed]

On April 28, 2007, Valkonen warned the Arch Linux maintainers of possible legal action because the (unofficial) Arch User Repository contained scripts to install Ion3 with patches he did not approve of.[6] Later on he did the same with the pkgsrc maintainer of the NetBSD project[7] and the ports maintainer of the FreeBSD project.[8] As of December 12, 2007,[9] the development branch of Ion, along with other software by Valkonen, was pulled[10] from the FreeBSD ports tree, after the author filed a complaint about outdated development releases still being available. Any version of Ion may still be installed from source code on any Unix system with proper libraries and dependencies.

Valkonen has implied in several mailing lists that he has become completely disillusioned with, if not openly hostile toward, the free software community in general. He plans to switch to developing strictly closed-source software for the Windows platform in the future.[11] Subsequently the author has given up on Unix and started using Windows instead.[12]


The Notion fork is maintained.

Window managers similar to ion include wmii, dwm, xmonad, larswm, i3, and awesome.

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