Using gTile

Posted by Ryan Himmelwright on Thu, Dec 22, 2022
Tags linux, gnome, fedora, customization
Downtown Durham NC

Years ago I enjoyed using minimal tiling window managers. Now, I prefer to use a ‘normal’, full desktop environment (ex: Gnome or Plasma). That said, I still prefer to arrange and manage my windows from the keyboard. On macOS, I’ve been using betterTouchTool for improved window management (rectangle is also great).

During my time using betterTouchTool, I’ve been annoyed that I didn’t have an equivalent method to set windows quite the same way on Linux. While testing out an ultra wide monitor at work, I really needed a better solution. So I searched a bit harder. It turns out there is an option that does exactly what I want in Linux (at least on Gnome): gTile.

What is gTile & How to get it

Setting how to have gTile place a window

Using gTile, you can specify where on the screen you would like to place a window (red) from a list of pre-set configurations you decide (the pop up box).

Basically, gTile is a tiling/window management extension for Gnome. It allows users to define different grid systems (ex: 8x6, 4x4, 3x1) that they can use to place windows. It has many additional features and can be quite customized.

Being a Gnome extension, it is installed from the extension store: link. Note, settings for gTile are configured in the extensions app.

How I use gTile

You can set margin gaps

I like how you can set the window margins (gaps).

Again, there are a ton of customization options for gTile, so the ways it can be used is nearly endless. That said, here is how I use it.

  • I almost exclusively use a 1x6 layout for the following reasons:
    • 1x6 allows me to select halves or thirds (usually a 2/3 & 1/3 configuration) easily
    • I use 6ths (instead of 3rds) because I sometimes have applications I like to use narrows windows with (ex: telegram).
    • I don’t stack applications, so I only need 1 row.
  • There are settings to use specific keyboard shortcuts, but I quickly became accustomed to and enjoy the pop-up window. I have alt+Enter bound to open the selection window, and then use my arrow keys (and sometimes shift) to do the rest.
  • I enjoy having a little gap between windows. It’s not the most efficient use of space, but I enjoy the look better.
  • I even tend to use a gTile section to setup my single ‘full screen’ windows (by selecting all 6 sections for a window). This maximizes the window, but with a little bit of padding around it. If I want to entirely full screen the window, I can use Gnome’s default CMD+Up keyboard shortcut.

Conclusion

My windows after arranging with gtile

My windows after arranging with gTile.

gTile is exactly what I want for window management, and now defines how I use Gnome. Specifically, I enjoy having the selection pop-up, and using my keyboard to visually select how I want each window to be arranged. Figuring out the gaps options was icing on the cake. Now, I want my macOS workflow to catch up 😅. Overall I’m very happy with this solution.

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