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Photon Window Manager


pwm [-CcdfGKknPrSW] [-a C|L|R] [-b color]
    [-g input_group] [-R [b|c|f|m|r|t]...]
    [-s server] [-Xcurs[,clr]]

Runs on:



-a C|L|R
Alignment. By default, title alignment is centered (C) in the title bar. This option lets you change the alignment to either left (L) or right (R) justification.
-b color
Background color (hex RGB value).
Shut down the window manager when you close the last window (bkgdmgr and shelf are considered windows).
Cursor focus. By default, focus is given to a window when you click anywhere inside it. This option lets you change keyboard focus so that it follows the cursor. You can toggle this behavior within pwm using the Cursor Focus option.
Full window dragging. Change the default dragging from outline to full window dragging. You can toggle this behavior within pwm using the Full Window Dragging option.
Click to front. By default, a window is brought to the front only if you click on the window title bar. This option lets you click anywhere in a window to bring it to the front. You can also set this behavior within pwm using the Click to Front option.
Enable multi-monitor placement policy.
-g input_group
Set the PWM input group (default 1).
Disable the keyboard.
Always process Ctrl-Alt keychords. This option allows Ctrl-Alt to always be recognized by PWM for keyboard navigation. By default, each window has its own Ctrl-Alt state.
Disable Cursor focus. If the cursor focus is set to the default mode in a mouse-less environment (or when the mouse doesn't start) a window can't be accessed. This option provides a override for a mouse-less environment. The ph -s command calls pwm with this option.
Disable console switching, the workspace menu, and the keyboard. This option is an alternative to specifying -KSW.
-R [b|c|f|m|r|t]
Run PWM on a remote computer (phditto/phindows).
Auto-raise window on steady cursor.
Disable console switching.
-s server_name
The name of the Photon server. The default is /dev/photon.
Disable the workspace menu.
Define default cursor type (E9xx code) and color (hex RGB value)


The Photon Window Manager (pwm) provides standard window management functions, including move, resize, minimize, maximize, raise, lower, and close. It provides common window frame borders that applications can customize, depending on their requirements.

Apart from the -f click-to-front option listed above, pwm also enables the following key combinations:

PWM Options

Selecting Desktop Config... from the Desktop Menu launches the pwmopts program, which lets you configure the workspace.

Configuring the Desktop menu

Each user can configure the Desktop menu. The configuration file is in $HOME/.ph/wm/

Note: If you create your own menu, you won't see new menu items when they're added to the default one.

Here's a sample personal PWM menu:

= Desktop Menu
Terminal            T   pterm
Graphics Config...  G   phgrafx
Desktop Config...   W   pwmopts
Shelf Config...     S   shelf -c
Mail                M   pterm elm
News                N   pterm trn
Shutdown...         u   phshutdown

The format of the file is simple; each line describes a menu item. Menu items are defined in the form:


If the line starts with:

You can't use environment variables because the command parsing is simple. However, you can write the command to a shell script and specify the script as the command to run.


Start the window manager with left-side title alignment, cursor focus, and click-to-front behavior:

pwm -cf -aL


Holds a user's PWM workspace configuration.
Holds a user's custom PWM Workspace menu.

Environment variables:

When set, disables the confirmation dialog when Photon exits. To disable this dialog, add the following lines before the ph command in your /etc/rc.d/rc.local file:
# disable confirmation dialog when Photon exits
export PHWMEXIT=1
Specifies the options to be passed automatically to pwm.
The application to start when the Print Scrn key is pressed. By default, snapshot is started.
Specifies the window frame style.

By default, this is set to wframe_updated2.dll (PhAB) or

This setting is included to improve performance. If you wish to change this setting to support 6.4.0 look and feel, set:


or, for Windows/PhAB for Windows:

  export PH_WFRAME_STYLE=wframe_updated.dll

before launching Photon.

See also:

pterm, pwmopts, savercfg

Using the Photon microGUI in the Neutrino User's Guide