Graphical Desktops

Sway and Wayfire

MNT Reform ships with two graphical environments called “desktops”. The Debian distribution, which the system on the SD card is based on, has a number of additional desktops in its package manager (see section “Alternative Desktops” at the end of this chapter).

  1. Sway emphasizes the concept of “tiling”. This means that normally, windows don’t overlap, but instead the screen space is automatically divided to make space for new windows. This desktop consumes minimal system resources, but relies heavily on keyboard shortcuts, which makes it harder to learn.

  2. Wayfire features classic overlapping windows, a point-and-click driven interface, and a modern look. In Wayfire, you can drag windows to the corners or edges of the screen and they will be snapped. They also have minimize, maximize, and close buttons. If you’re accustomed to GNOME, Windows, or macOS desktops, you’ll find Wayfire quite intuitive.

You initially choose between Sway and Wayfire in the MNT Reform Setup Wizard. This choice will be reflected as the default on the login screen, but you can change it by pressing F3.

Sway and Wayfire look and work differently, but they share the following functionalities and keyboard shortcuts with SUPER [1]:

Key Combinations



Open a terminal


Close active window


Find and launch programs


Take screenshot (in ~/Pictures)


Take screenshot of an area


Go to workspace 1–9


Move active window to workspace 1–9

Top Bar

Both desktops come with an information bar at the top of the screen provided by the waybar package. The bar is divided into the following sections:


Action on click

MNT Research logo

Open the launcher

Icons of running applications

Switch to application

Workspace numbers (only on Sway)

Switch to workspace

Tray icons

Settings for network,

volume, etc.


Toggle date/clock

You can completely customize the top bar by editing the config file ~/.config/waybar/config and the CSS-based styling file ~/.config/waybar/style.css.

man waybar explains the available configuration options.

Launching Applications

Reform’s Sway and Wayfire desktops include the wofi launcher, a popup menu for launching an application by typing a part of its name. Click on the MNT logo in the Top Bar or press SUPER+D to open the menu. Over time, wofi will remember the applications you regularly launch and will sort them by frequency of use.


If you have a lot of windows open, they might not all fit on the screen at once. For this purpose, multiple set of windows can be arranged in workspaces.

You can change your active workspace with the number keys, for example:




Go to workspace 2


Go back to workspace 1


Move active window to workspace 5

You can open different spaces for different programs. For example, you might want to put your code-editing programs in workspace 1, a web browser in workspace 2, and some instant messaging programs in workspace 3.

Display Brightness

You can set the display’s brightness using the brightnessctl command or, more conveniently, use one of these keyboard shortcuts:




Decrease display brightness


Increase display brightness

Network and Wi-Fi

You can connect to Wi-Fi networks and configure Ethernet as well as VPN connections by clicking the network icon in the top bar.


If your system has Bluetooth, you’ll see a Bluetooth icon in the tray area of the top bar. This icon is powered by the blueman package behind the scenes and clicking on it with the left mouse button will open the Bluetooth Devices window, where you can search for nearby devices to connect to. Right clicking on a Bluetooth device will give you the options to connect, pair, or get more information. You can also right-click on the Bluetooth icon in the top bar itself to open a context menu with more options, like toggling the Bluetooth visibility of your MNT Reform, sending files or reestablishing recent connections.

Note that any Bluetooth audio devices, when connected, will appear in Volume Control (started by launching it from the speaker icon in the top bar or manually from the launcher). Here you can choose them as the default output or input device and adjust the volume.

Sway Specifics



You can start a new terminal window by using the shortcut SUPER+ENTER. When you press SUPER+ENTER multiple times to open several terminals, you’ll notice that your currently open windows will be resized to accommodate for the new window. You can switch between these windows by holding the SUPER key and pressing the cursor (arrow) keys in the desired direction.

If you keep adding windows, they will continuously shrink horizontally, but if you would rather have a window split vertically, you can. Use these shortcuts for deciding:




Split window horizontally


Split window vertically

Note that the window is not split instantaneously. You’re just telling Sway “The next time I create a window, put it below/beside my current window.”

You may also use SUPER+W to tell Sway to use tabs. You can switch your tab using the same shortcuts for switching between windows. You can end this function by pressing SUPER+E.

You can use SUPER+ESC to close the currently selected window.

Sway Config File

You can tailor Sway’s behavior and keyboard shortcuts by editing the file ~/.config/sway/config or one of the included files in the ~/.config/sway/config.d directory.

All configuration options are documented in the manual page that you can access by typing man 5 sway in a terminal. More information is also available in the Sway Wiki:

Some of the most important configuration options are explained in the following sections.

Keyboard Layout

The keyboard layout is normally configured by the MNT Reform Setup Wizard. Should you want to configure it manually, you can edit the ~/.config/sway/config.d/input file. For example, the following snippet will change the layout to the EU layout for any connected keyboard:

input * {
  xkb_layout eu
  xkb_options lv3:ralt_switch

Trackball/Trackpad Speed

A common thing that people want to tune to their particular taste is the speed of the trackball (or trackpad) on MNT Reform. For Sway, you could add an input section (or extend the existing one) to the ~/.config/sway/config.d/input file as such:

input * {
  accel_profile adaptive
  pointer_accel 1.0

Where pointer_accel can be a number between -1.0 and 1.0.

You can find out about all of the details of Sway’s input configuration by opening its manual page using man sway-input.

External Displays

Some Processor Modules allow you to connect an external display on the HDMI port, but not all of them can drive both the internal and the external display at the same time. If your module supports dual display, plugging in an external monitor should just work. If you want to configure the placement and resolution of this monitor, take a look at man sway-output and create an output HDMI-A-1 section in your Sway config file. Other helpful tools that you can install for these purposes are kanshi and wlr-randr.

You can also use swaymsg to control your displays on the fly or when pressing certain key combinations. The following example script will switch from internal to external display and force a standard 1080p mode:

swaymsg output eDP-1 disable
swaymsg output HDMI-A-1 enable
swaymsg output HDMI-A-1 modeline 148.50 1920 2448 2492\
                                 2640 1080 1084 1089\
                                 1125 +hsync +vsync

Wayfire Specifics


Wayfire supports a range of keyboard shortcuts to speed up working with the desktop:



SUPER+← or →

Tile window to left or right

SUPER+↑ or ↓

(Un)maximize window


Overview of all windows


Cycle through windows

Wayfire Config File

You can customize Wayfire in depth by editing the file:


Some common configuration options are explained in the following sections.

Keyboard Layout

Wayfire’s keyboard layout is normally configured by the MNT Reform Setup Wizard. Should you want to configure it manually, you can edit the file ~/.config/wayfire.ini. Look for the line xkb_layout in the section [input]. For example, to change it to the “EurKEY” layout, change the value after the = sign to eu.

Trackball/Trackpad Speed

To change the speed of the trackball (or trackpad) cursor under Wayfire, look for the lines in the [input] section of ~/.config/wayfire.ini that start with touchpad. To achieve a high acceleration speed, set the touchpad_accel_profile to adaptive and adjust the touchpad_cursor_speed value to 1.0 (it can be a number between -1.0 and 1.0).

You can learn all the details of Wayfire’s configuration in its wiki:

Alternative Desktops

On MNT Reform, you are not restricted to Sway or Wayfire—you can also use other desktops.

You can choose an established desktop such as KDE Plasma and GNOME, or you can go down the rabbit hole of arcane desktops and discover a hidden gem this way.

We don’t ship either of the big desktops as they require a lot of resources and we want to keep our system minimalistic, but here is how you can install them yourself:


Command: sudo apt install gnome

KDE Plasma

Command: sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop