Installing Qtile

Distro Guides

Below are the preferred installation methods for specific distros. If you are running something else, please see Installing From Source.

Installing From Source

Python interpreters

We aim to always support the last three versions of CPython, the reference Python interpreter. We usually support the latest stable version of PyPy as well. You can check the versions and interpreters we currently run our test suite against in our tox configuration file.

There are not many differences between versions aside from Python features you may or may not be able to use in your config. PyPy should be faster at runtime than any corresponding CPython version under most circumstances, especially for bits of Python code that are run many times. CPython should start up faster than PyPy and has better compatibility for external libraries.

Core Dependencies

Here are Qtile's core runtime dependencies and the package names that provide them in Ubuntu. Note that Qtile can run with one of two backends -- X11 and Wayland -- so only the dependencies of one of these is required.


Ubuntu Package

Needed for

Core Dependencies



Bars and popups



Drawing on bars and popups (if using X11 install xcffib BEFORE installing cairocffi, see below)



Writing on bars and popups



Sending notifications with dbus (optional).


X server


X11 backends



required for X11 backend




Wayland backend (see below)



python bindings for the wlroots library



python bindings for the wayland library



required for wayland backeds


Qtile uses cairocffi for drawing on status bars and popup windows. Under X11, cairocffi requires XCB support via xcffib, which you should be sure to have installed before installing cairocffi; otherwise, the needed cairo-xcb bindings will not be built. Once you've got the dependencies installed, you can use the latest version on PyPI:

pip install --no-cache-dir cairocffi


With the dependencies in place, you can now install the stable version of qtile from PyPI:

pip install qtile

Or install qtile-git with:

git clone
cd qtile
pip install .

As long as the necessary libraries are in place, this can be done at any point, however, it is recommended that you first install xcffib to ensure the cairo-xcb bindings are built (X11 only) (see above).

Starting Qtile

There are several ways to start Qtile. The most common way is via an entry in your X session manager's menu. The default Qtile behavior can be invoked by creating a qtile.desktop file in /usr/share/xsessions.

A second way to start Qtile is a custom X session. This way allows you to invoke Qtile with custom arguments, and also allows you to do any setup you want (e.g. special keyboard bindings like mapping caps lock to control, setting your desktop background, etc.) before Qtile starts. If you're using an X session manager, you still may need to create a custom.desktop file similar to the qtile.desktop file above, but with Exec=/etc/X11/xsession. Then, create your own ~/.xsession. There are several examples of user defined xsession s in the qtile-examples repository.

If there is no display manager such as SDDM, LightDM or other and there is need to start Qtile directly from ~/.xinitrc do that by adding exec qtile start at the end.

In very special cases, ex. Qtile crashing during session, then suggestion would be to start through a loop to save running applications:

while true; do

Finally, if you're a gnome user, you can start integrate Qtile into Gnome's session manager and use gnome as usual.


Qtile can be run as a Wayland compositor rather than an X11 window manager. For this, Qtile uses wlroots, a compositor library which is undergoing fast development. This means we can only support the latest release. Be aware that some distributions package outdated versions of wlroots. More up-to-date distributions such as Arch Linux may also package pywayland, pywlroots and python-xkbcommon.

With the Wayland dependencies in place, Qtile can be run either from a TTY, or within an existing X11 or Wayland session where it will run inside a nested window:

qtile start -b wayland

See the Wayland page for more information on running Qtile as a Wayland compositor.