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I've installed awesome on my Ubuntu laptop, and I like it. But I feel kind of lost. I don't know any keyboard shortcuts and the man pages aren't really any help (for instance, what does Mod4 mean?).

Is there any kind of brief introduction to awesome I can read?

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Mod4 is the "Wind*ws" Key. – SabreWolfy Dec 19 '11 at 11:51
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Here is one person's introduction

Here is a guide to installing it with Ubuntu

And here is a history and additional links via Wikipedia

Hope that helps!

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typo on the Wiki link, the ending curly brace is not linked – Sathya Oct 6 '09 at 14:10
Funny that leaving out the ) will take you to a different page – Ivo Flipse Oct 6 '09 at 18:56
Ah, I think it's fixed now. Thank you – Katerberg Oct 6 '09 at 22:08
Note to people reading this in 2014: the first link refers to an old version of Awesome. Awesome has replaced ini files with the Lua language for ita configuration. – Frank Kusters Sep 12 '14 at 19:21

I assume Mod4 is the same as meta which is the Windows key on most modern keyboards.

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Here is my bare bones intro to awesome window manager: First few lines:

The main keys you need to know are:

  • ⌘+space = change screen layout type
  • ⌘+shift + space = change screen layout type, cycling backwards
  • ⌘+j = go to the next window on this desktop (focus on, as if you had hovered your mouse over it … but without needing to reach over to the mouse)
  • ⌘+k = go to the previous window on this desktop
  • ⌘+J = swap this window and the next one
  • ⌘+K = swap this window and the previous one
  • ⌘+h = → the center partition squashing the right pane(s)
  • ⌘+l = ← the center partition expanding the right pane(s)
  • ⌘+← = desktop to the left
  • ⌘+→ = desktop to the right
  • ⌘+9 = desktop number nine

Notice that h,j,k,l are the right-handed home row keys on a QWERTY|AZERTY.

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Press Mod4+Enter (typically this would be the Wind*ws key and Enter) to open a terminal and then enter man awesome. A list of default key-bindings is shown.

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I recently started out with Awesome too. The links diablomarcus posted are great. You should also check out If there exists an answer to any question you can't find on the wiki, which is sometimes a little out of date, you're gonna find it at #awesome on OFTC. They're really helpful, even to the novice. Try to do as much research as possible on the wiki.

Oh, and almost right away you're going to want to change at least one settings, so check out the Configuration page on the wiki.

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I just started using Awesome WM myself.

Regarding the sub-question: "What is Mod4"?

  • Mod4 is one of the modifier keys set for the xserver currently running
  • it can be any physical key you like
  • check setting with $xmodmap -pm

Yuo can read more from the man pages ($man xmodmap) or via Google: xmodmap keyboard layout

You can do some great things with it! Took me a bit to understand it, though.

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I put this together before finding this page.

Using Awesome

  • Windows are "Tiled" by default, and you organise the tiles instead of click-dragging windows around.
  • Virtual Desktops are called Tags, there's 9 of them, and they're per-Screen.

Moving Between Windows

Win+J/K         | Prev / Next Window (like Alt+tab)
Win+Ctrl+J/K    | Prev / Next Screen
Win+1-9         | Change to Desktop

Rearranging Windows

Win+Space       | Change Screen Layout Type
Win+O           | Move window to Other Screen
Win+Ctrl+Space  | Toggle window Floating/Tiled
Win+Shift+J/K   | Move window to next position
Win+H/L         | Resize window


Win+Enter       | New Terminal
Win+Shift+C     | Close Window

Mousey Things

Win+Left-Click  | Move
Win+Right-Click | Resize
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