Frequently Asked Questions

Why the name Qtile?

Users often wonder, why the Q? Does it have something to do with Qt? No. Below is an IRC excerpt where cortesi explains the great trial that ultimately brought Qtile into existence, thanks to the benevolence of the Open Source Gods. Praise be to the OSG!

ramnes:  what does Qtile mean?
ramnes:  what's the Q?
@tych0:  ramnes: it doesn't :)
@tych0:  cortesi was just looking for the first letter that wasn't registered
         in a domain name with "tile" as a suffix
@tych0:  qtile it was :)
cortesi: tych0, dx: we really should have something more compelling to
         explain the name. one day i was swimming at manly beach in sydney,
         where i lived at the time. suddenly, i saw an enormous great white
         right beside me. it went for my leg with massive, gaping jaws, but
         quick as a flash, i thumb-punched it in both eyes. when it reared
         back in agony, i saw that it had a jagged, gnarly scar on its
         stomach... a scar shaped like the letter "Q".
cortesi: while it was distracted, i surfed a wave to shore. i knew that i
         had to dedicate my next open source project to the ocean gods, in
         thanks for my lucky escape. and thus, qtile got its name...

When I first start xterm/urxvt/rxvt containing an instance of Vim, I see text and layout corruption. What gives?

Vim is not handling terminal resizes correctly. You can fix the problem by starting your xterm with the "-wf" option, like so:

xterm -wf -e vim

Alternatively, you can just cycle through your layouts a few times, which usually seems to fix it.

How do I know which modifier specification maps to which key?

To see a list of modifier names and their matching keys, use the xmodmap command. On my system, the output looks like this:

$ xmodmap
xmodmap:  up to 3 keys per modifier, (keycodes in parentheses):

shift       Shift_L (0x32),  Shift_R (0x3e)
lock        Caps_Lock (0x9)
control     Control_L (0x25),  Control_R (0x69)
mod1        Alt_L (0x40),  Alt_R (0x6c),  Meta_L (0xcd)
mod2        Num_Lock (0x4d)
mod3
mod4        Super_L (0xce),  Hyper_L (0xcf)
mod5        ISO_Level3_Shift (0x5c),  Mode_switch (0xcb)

My "pointer mouse cursor" isn't the one I expect it to be!

Qtile should set the default cursor to left_ptr, you must install xcb-util-cursor if you want support for themed cursors.

LibreOffice menus don't appear or don't stay visible

A workaround for problem with the mouse in libreoffice is setting the environment variable »SAL_USE_VCLPLUGIN=gen«. It is dependent on your system configuration as to where to do this. e.g. ArchLinux with libreoffice-fresh in /etc/profile.d/libreoffice-fresh.sh.

How can I get my groups to stick to screens?

This behaviour can be replicated by configuring your keybindings to not move groups between screens. For example if you want groups "1", "2" and "3" on one screen and "q", "w", and "e" on the other, instead of binding keys to lazy.group[name].toscreen(), use this:

def go_to_group(name: str) -> Callable:
    def _inner(qtile: Qtile) -> None:
        if len(qtile.screens) == 1:
            qtile.groups_map[name].toscreen()
            return

        if name in '123':
            qtile.focus_screen(0)
            qtile.groups_map[name].toscreen()
        else:
            qtile.focus_screen(1)
            qtile.groups_map[name].toscreen()

    return _inner

for i in groups:
    keys.append(Key([mod], i.name, lazy.function(go_to_group(i.name))))

To be able to move windows across these groups which switching groups, a similar function can be used:

def go_to_group_and_move_window(name: str):
    def _inner(qtile):
        if len(qtile.screens) == 1:
            qtile.current_window.cmd_togroup(name, switch_group=True)
            return

        if name in "123":
            qtile.current_window.cmd_togroup(name, switch_group=False)
            qtile.focus_screen(0)
            qtile.groups_map[name].cmd_toscreen()
        else:
            qtile.current_window.cmd_togroup(name, switch_group=False)
            qtile.focus_screen(1)
            qtile.groups_map[name].cmd_toscreen()

    return _inner

If you use the GroupBox widget you can make it reflect this behaviour:

groupbox1 = widget.GroupBox(visible_groups=['1', '2', '3'])
groupbox2 = widget.GroupBox(visible_groups=['q', 'w', 'e'])

And if you jump between having single and double screens then modifying the visible groups on the fly may be useful:

@hook.subscribe.screens_reconfigured
async def _():
    if len(qtile.screens) > 1:
        groupbox1.visible_groups = ['1', '2', '3']
    else:
        groupbox1.visible_groups = ['1', '2', '3', 'q', 'w', 'e']
    if hasattr(groupbox1, 'bar'):
        groupbox1.bar.draw()

Where can I find example configurations and other scripts?

Please visit our qtile-examples repo which contains examples of users' configurations, scripts and other useful links.

Where are the log files for Qtile?

The log files for qtile are at ~/.local/share/qtile/qtile.log.

Why do I get an AttributeError when building Qtile?

If you see this message: AttributeError: cffi library 'libcairo.so.2' has no function, constant or global variable named 'cairo_xcb_surface_create' when building Qtile then your Cairo version lacks XCB support.

If it happens, it might be because the cairocffi and xcffib dependencies were installed in the wrong order.

To fix this:

  1. uninstall them from your environment: with pip uninstall cairocffi xcffib if using a virtualenv, or with your system package-manager if you installed the development version of Qtile system-wide.

  2. re-install them sequentially (again, with pip or with your package-manager):

    pip install xcffib
    pip install --no-cache-dir cairocffi
    

See this issue comment for more information.

If you are using your system package-manager and the issue still happens, the packaging of cairocffi might be broken for your distribution. Try to contact the persons responsible for cairocffi's packaging on your distribution, or to install it from the sources with xcffib available.

How can I match the bar with picom?

You can use "QTILE_INTERNAL:32c = 1" in your picom.conf to match the bar. This will match all internal Qtile windows, so if you want to avoid that or to target bars individually, you can set a custom property and match that:

mybar = Bar(...)

@hook.subscribe.startup
def _():
    mybar.window.window.set_property("QTILE_BAR", 1, "CARDINAL", 32)

This would enable matching on mybar's window using "QTILE_BAR:32c = 1". See 2526 and 1515 for more discussion.

Why do get a warning that fonts cannot be loaded?

When installing Qtile on a new system, when running the test suite or the Xephyr script (./scripts/xephyr), you might see errors in the output like the following or similar:

  • Xephyr script:

    xterm: cannot load font "-Misc-Fixed-medium-R-*-*-13-120-75-75-C-120-ISO10646-1"
    xterm: cannot load font "-misc-fixed-medium-r-semicondensed--13-120-75-75-c-60-iso10646-1"
    
  • pytest:

    ---------- Captured stderr call ----------
    Warning: Cannot convert string "8x13" to type FontStruct
    Warning: Unable to load any usable ISO8859 font
    Warning: Unable to load any usable ISO8859 font
    Error: Aborting: no font found
    
    -------- Captured stderr teardown --------
    Qtile exited with exitcode: -9
    

If it happens, it might be because you're missing fonts on your system.

On ArchLinux, you can fix this by installing xorg-fonts-misc:

sudo pacman -S xorg-fonts-misc

Try to search for "xorg fonts misc" with your distribution name on the internet to find how to install them.

I've upgraded and Qtile's broken. What do I do?

If you've recently upgraded, the first thing to do is check the changelog and see if any breaking changes were made.

Next, check your log file (see above) to see if any error messages explain what the problem is.

If you're still stuck, come and ask for help on Discord, IRC or GitHub.