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1. What is this?

labwc stands for Lab Wayland Compositor, where lab can mean any of the following:

  • sense of experimentation and treading new ground
  • inspired by BunsenLabs and ArchLabs
  • your favorite pet

It is a wlroots-based stacking compositor aiming to be lightweight and independent, with a focus on simply stacking windows well and rendering some window decorations. It relies on clients for wallpaper, panels, screenshots, and so on to create a full desktop environment.

Labwc tries to stay in keeping with wlroots and sway in terms of general approach and coding style.

In order to avoid reinventing configuration and theme syntax, the openbox-3.4 specification is used. This does not mean that labwc is an openbox clone but rather that configuration files will look and feel familiar.

video link date content
Video (0:18) 16-Oct-2021 SnapToEdge feature
Video (1:10) 05-Aug-2021 window gymnastics, theming and waybar
Video (3:42) 25-Feb-2021 setting background and themes; xwayland/xdg-shell windows

So far, labwc supports the following:

  • Config files (rc.xml, autostart, environment)
  • Theme files and xbm icons
  • Damage tracking to reduce CPU usage
  • A basic root-menu (configured with menu.xml)
  • HiDPI
  • wlr-output-management protocol
  • layer-shell protocol
  • foreign-toplevel protocol (e.g. to integrate with panels and bars)
  • Optionally xwayland

2. Build

meson build/
ninja -C build/

Dependencies include:

  • meson, ninja, gcc/clang
  • wlroots (master)
  • wayland (>=1.19)
  • wayland-protocols
  • libinput (>=1.14)
  • libxml2
  • cairo, pango, glib-2.0
  • xkbcommon
  • xwayland, xcb (optional)

Disable xwayland with meson -Dxwayland=disabled build/

For further details see wiki/Build.

3. Install

See wiki/Install.

4. Configure

Labwc uses the files listed below for configuration and theming.

file user over-ride location man page
rc.xml ~/.config/labwc/ labwc-config(5), labwc-actions(5)
menu.xml ~/.config/labwc/ labwc-menu(5)
autostart ~/.config/labwc/ labwc(1)
environment ~/.config/labwc/ labwc-environment(5)
themerc ~/.local/share/themes/<theme-name>/openbox-3/ labwc-theme(5)

The example rc.xml has been kept simple. For all options and default values, see rc.xml.all

Configuration and theme files are reloaded on receiving SIGHUP (e.g. killall -SIGHUP labwc)

For keyboard settings, see environment and xkeyboard-config(7)

For themes, search the internet for "openbox themes" and place them in ~/.local/share/themes/. Some good starting points include:

5. Run

./build/labwc [-s <command>]

Click on the background to launch a menu.

If you have not created an rc.xml config file, default bindings will be:

combination action
alt-tab activate next window
alt-escape exit
super-return alacritty
alt-F3 bemenu
alt-F4 close window
super-a toggle maximize
alt-mouse-left move window
alt-mouse-right resize window
alt-arrow move window to edge
super-arrow resize window to fill half the output
XF86_AudioLowerVolume amixer sset Master 5%-
XF86_AudioRaiseVolume amixer sset Master 5%+
XF86_AudioMute amixer sset Master toggle
XF86_MonBrightnessUp brightnessctl set +10%
XF86_MonBrightnessDown brightnessctl set 10%-

6. Integrate

Suggested apps to use with labwc:

7. Roadmap

A lot of emphasis is put on code simplicity when considering features.

The main development effort is focused on producing a solid foundation for a stacking compositor rather than adding configuration and theming options.

See acceptance criteria for details.

High-level summary of items which are not intended to be implemented:

  • Icons (except window buttons)
  • Animations
  • Gradients for decoration and menus
  • Any theme option not required to reasonably render common themes (it's amazing how few options are actually required).


A Wayland stacking compositor







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