Developer(s)Shawn Betts
Initial releaseDecember 4, 2000; 21 years ago (2000-12-04)[1]
Stable release
1.4.9[2] Edit this on Wikidata / 4 April 2017
Written inC
TypeWindow manager

ratpoison is a tiling window manager for the X Window System primarily developed by Shawn Betts. ratpoison is written in C; Betts' StumpWM re-implements a similar window manager in Common Lisp. The user interface and much of their functionality are inspired by the GNU Screen terminal multiplexer.[3]


The name "ratpoison" reflects its major design goal: it lets the user manage application windows without using a mouse.[4] Unlike other tiling window managers like Ion, ratpoison completely ignores the mouse (or "rat"),[5][6] and avoids window decorations as much as possible.[7] The default keybindings are specifically designed to not conflict with Emacs.[8]


Mark Pilgrim, a frequent user, praised it for being "minimalist" and "configurable".[6] Jeff Covey found it "lightning fast and perfectly stable".[3] Peter Seebach remarked that "the convenience and performance are impressive; the learning curve, however, daunts many users."[5] Similarly, Brian Proffitt observes that "the key commands are well explained in this window manager's man pages, and whatever you do, read these first. The keyboard commands do make sense after some use but initially the learning curve is pretty steep."[7] In the same vein, Bruce Byfield found it (and stumpwm) "virtually unusable until you read the documentation".[9] Penguin Pete highlighted its suitability for Emacs users, calling it "not so much a window manager as a frame manager," but found it difficult to work with GIMP.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Earliest known release
  2. ^ "ratpoison-1.4.9 has been released"; author name string: Jeremie Courreges-Anglas; publication date: 4 April 2017; retrieved: 12 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b Covey, Jeff (12 October 2002), "The Antidesktop", Freshmeat.
  4. ^ Brozefsky, Craig (1999-06-27), "SCWM, Pot and the GPL", comp.os.linux.advocacy,gnu.misc.discuss (newsgroups).
  5. ^ a b Seebach, Peter (13 March 2006), "The cranky user: Usability off the beaten path", developerWorks, IBM.
  6. ^ a b Pilgrim, Mark (15 March 2007), My Good Easy, archived from the original on 2011-07-18.
  7. ^ a b Proffitt, Brian (April 10, 2001), "The StartX Files: When the Mouse is An Anathema", LinuxPlanet.
  8. ^ "ratpoison".
  9. ^ Byfield, Bruce (May 31, 2007), "Keyboard-driven environments open a new window on the desktop", Linux.com.
  10. ^ "Ratpoison - the rebel".