Years ago, I used to run sawfish as my window manager. It had the extremely useful feature of making it easy to program window-manager actions when certain events happened (e.g. when a window with name "X" is created, rename it to "Y" and move it to desktop 4, or when an un-resizable dialog box is created, make it resizable.).

I'm using xfce4 with xfwm now. I miss that feature and would find it very useful.

What I need to do now is to put a specific window (actually, a set of windows - Firefox with a different profile - I got sick of Midori crashing all the time so have started using a separate profile in FF for facebook, to isolate their tracking and spyware from my general browsing) in a separate tab in the xfce Window Buttons panel applet without turning off window grouping entirely. I've got the Show Profile plugin installed in that profile, which changes the window title, but that's not enough.

Is there any stand-alone tool that will allow me to do similar things in xfce (or lxde or any other WM)?

I'm almost certain I've heard of tools to do this, but can't remember what it/they were called. And google's useless for this - "window" is far too generic a term without something more specific to search for.


  1. I'm interested in seeing specific solutions to the Firefox/Window Buttons issue, but more interested in a generic tool that I can re-use for any similar task - same as I used to in sawfish.

  2. I'm not interested in changing window managers.

1 Answer 1


There may be others, but I found two programs to do this:

  1. devilspie

    • lisp-like mini-language, symbolic expressions which should be familiar to emacs users
    • seems to be abandoned by the author
      • home page is 404
      • looks like it hasn't been updated since ~ 2012
    • but is still available in debian, ubuntu, and other distros, and clones/forks of it can be found on github and similar places.
    • documentation isn't great, but there are some good 3rd-party web pages describing it, including:

devilspie is the program I remembered reading about, but couldn't remember its name.

  1. devilspie2
    • use lua as the scripting language
    • not abandoned, but author is looking for new maintainer
    • last updated in 2017
    • documentation is OK
    • there's a tutorial at Linux Magazine

Both of these do what I wanted, but "Window Buttons" aka "tasklist" in xfce doesn't work the way I hoped it would - it still groups two different Firefox profiles in the same task-bar button. I'd have to hack tasklist to make it do what I want (i.e. use a prefix in the window name as grouping criteria), which seems like too much work for the very small return.

There are also several command line utils for querying and setting various window properties, including xdo, xdotool, and wmctrl

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.