When comparing herbstluftwm vs bspwm, the Slant community recommends bspwm for most people. In the question“What are the best window managers for Linux?” bspwm is ranked 9th while herbstluftwm is ranked 14th. The most important reason people chose bspwm is:
It has a low footprint.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Can be reconfigured from the command line while it's still running
Configuration of herbstluftwm can be done live in the command line, so no booting in and out of the desktop is necessary.
Pro Uses a simple bash script for configuration
The configuration file for herbstluftwm is a bash script and is easily configurable.
Pro Offers a combination of manual and automatic tiling
Users can set up auto-tiling per app, or they can change any application to manual tiling to where they want on the screen.
Pro Highly customizable
Different layouts can be used in different frames on the same workspace, so the user can customize their layout to their liking on the fly.
Pro Great multi-monitor support
Herbstluftwm has built-in multi-monitor support that can customize to any size desired on the screen. This implies that the user is not held back by being forced to use each monitor's size.
Pro Very lightweight
It has a low footprint.
Pro Drag&drop / Mouse support for resize/move
You can resize, switch panes, and resize tiles via the mouse.
Pro Very flexible
The keyboard shortcut are handled by another module so it's easy to use other inputs. The configuration is also simple.
Pro Based on binary space partitioning
The windows tiling is handled as the leaves of a full binary tree. This makes it easy to partition as you like.
Pro Open source
Pro Live configuration updates
No need to restart for updating configurations.
Pro Simple, adheres to the UNIX philosophy
Configuration takes much less work than in similar window managers. Hotkey binding is handled by a separate utility, sxhkd.
Pro Simple interface
All actions of the window manager (like opening or resizing a window, changing the workspace, etc.) are handled by a program called bspc, which communicates with bspwm over a socket connection. The config file is just a shell executable making calls to that program. This makes it very easy to write your own scripts to handle bspwm's behavior.
Pro Adherent to the Linux philosophy: Do one thing and do it right
Con No system tray
There is no system tray support in herbstluftwm. In that case, users who wish to have one must use an external application.
Con No single window floating
The user cannot use floating for dialogs or anything else without making the entire workspace float. Their only choice is pseudo tiling.
Con Poorly documented
Compared to something like i3 for example, a user following through i3's documentation is basically guaranteed to get a working desktop suited to their needs. Setting up bspwm is much more of a headache due to developers assuming things are clearer than they are.
Con Lacks transparency support
Like most window managers there is no built in compositing, which means no transparencies.