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Shahin Sha
Shahin Sha

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How To Install Pop Shell Window Tiling Extension On Ubuntu 20.04 Or 20.10, Fedora, Debian, And Arch Linux Or Manjaro

Ever wondered how these linux power users customize their desktop.The beauty is that in Linux, it is easy to become a power user because everything is customizable. So you can become one too. In this blog we are going to talk about tiling window managers. Ever get tired of using your mouse to open a minimized window or copy pasting code from your browser to editor. This step will take some of your precious time because you either need to close or minimize the first window. This is where the tiling window manager comes in.

What is tiling window manager?

When you install linux there is a lot of software that comes with it, A window manager is one among these software. Usually the window manager that comes built-in is a stacking window manager. This means windows are stacked on top of each other. Other than this, there is another window manager called Tiling Window Manager . In this window manager, they position windows in tiles or grids (like in a phone’s gallery application) and stacks or floating layouts etc. A tiling window manager is a graphical application that helps you organize your desktop windows and gives you the extra feature of controlling your desktop with only your keyboard.

This is what a tiling window manager looks like:

Alt Text

Now let's talk about the advantages of tiling window managers:

  • With a tiling window manager, you get a window manager that positions your windows for you as you open them, and all you get to do is control the layouts in which you want your windows to be placed.
  • Also the tiling window manager has its keyboard configurations. This means you can control the entire desktop with keyboard shortcuts.
  • Within a week you will learn to use this window manager and your fingers will develop muscle memory of the keyboard shortcuts. Therefore switching between windows feels like an automatic process.
  • This will definitely improve your workflow and save your time.

Popular tiling window managers

There are many tiling window managers but among them there are a few popular wm. Some of these well known tiling window managers are:

  • Awesome WM
  • i3wm
  • bwspm
  • Pop Shell
  • Xmonad

We are going to install Pop shell as it is convenient and easy. Another reason I chose Pop Shell is because it comes as an extension and you can always return to your stacking window mode within a second.Also we don't need to change our desktop environment either. In case you have doubts about this, I recommend installing this and trying it once.

Without further ado, let's get it into it

The distro I'm using is Ubuntu 20.10 but it works with all debian based distros.

Pop Shell was introduced by system76 for pop os but they made it available for linux distros . Compared to other display managers, the installation step is very easy. As I said earlier, we are installing it as an extension, therefore you need to enable extensions in your tweaks tool. Now let's start the installation process:

  • Install all the dependencies - We need to install some dependencies in order to install and run this extension. To do that, open your terminal and type in the following command
sudo apt install node-typescript make
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  • Cloning shell repository - After doing that, the next step is to clone the official github repository. So once again go to your terminal and type
git clone
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  • Installing the extension - The next step is to install this extension. So on your terminal type :
cd shell
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This will move you to the shell folder and you can now type this code in your terminal:

make local-install
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Alt Text

  • Last step will install the extension in most distros. But in my case, I faced an error :

make: *** [Makefile:61: enable] Error 2

Don't worry, this error is very easy to solve. You just
need to reboot your system and the error will be
resolved.Now repeat the second step and it will be
installed without any trouble.

  • Restart your device - After successfully completing all the steps mentioned above, you just need to restart your device and everything is done

Using Pop shell

Using the pop shell is very easy. You will find a new icon at the topbar. Click there and toggle tile windows option. The windows will be tilled now. In case you want to go back to stack window mode, click the extension again and turn it off.

Alt Text

Uninstalling Pop Sell

In case you did not like the pop shell or you want to remove it for another reason, follow these steps:

  • Open your terminal and type in the following:
cd shell
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this will move you to the shell folder and now type the following:

make uninstall
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This step will remove the extension from your device.

Some useful links :

If you have successfully installed the pop shell and are going to continue with it, I'll be providing you with some links that may prove useful to you:


Tiling window managers are awesome. But this is not for everyone, so I recommend trying this out once and you can always go back if you are having trouble.If you are someone who needs to improve workflow then this is for you. But if you are someone who would like to stick to the basics and doesn't want to ruin the existing workflow then I suggest you use this. Anyway, it's up to you whether you want to continue or not.

I hope this blog proved useful to you. This is the result of my continuous research and hardwork. If you face any trouble, feel free to contact me at .I would be glad to help you out.
Bye for now.

Discussion (7)

bcookatpcsd profile image
B. Cook

Hey there.. just wanted to say thanks for this. I had a machine that pop!Os wouldn't install on but Ubuntu would.. took only a few moments to get pop-shell working in Ubuntu 20.10. Thanks for writing this up..

shahinsha profile image
Shahin Sha Author

hey, I really appreciate your comment and I'm so glad that it helped you. Check out my other Linux tutorials if you have some free time.

jimpriest profile image
Jim Priest

Long time i3 user - wonder how this compares?

shahinsha profile image
Shahin Sha Author

For i3 we have to change the desktop environment while login(from gnome/kde/any to i3).However, the pop shell is installed as an extension and we do not have to change the environment .
Another advantage is that we can change back from tiling to stacking mode with click of button. I don't think you need to change from i3 to pop shell, if you are a long time user. This is for beginners who are new to tiling window managers. Personally I would choose pop shell over i3. Again, it's my personal choice and it's your decision.

dewhallez profile image
Akin Wale

Thank you for the write up, I am going to try this.

shahinsha profile image
Shahin Sha Author

I'm glad that I was able to help you. Feel free to contact me if you get stuck somewhere

atharvakadlag profile image
Atharva Kadlag • Edited on

make: *** [Makefile:98: restart-shell] Error 1