Mike Sampson

Linux Systems Administrator




20 Sep 2009

XMonad. Welcome to the Darcs side.

I have been using xmonad as my window manager for quite a while now. I use it on a dual screen workstation, my laptop and a netbook and in each case it does the job flawlessly. It is insanely stable and for this reason I am still using it though I do struggle with Haskell and would like to try stumpwm one day as I would be more at home with Lisp.

My configuration hasn't changed much for the last 6 months or so, not because my current setup is perfect, but because it does everything I need. Having said that I'm sure there are a few productivity boosting modules available in xmonad-contrib that I would find useful. As a first step today I switched to XMonad from Darcs instead of the Arch Linux packages. There are packages for xmonad-darcs and xmonad-contrib-darcs in the AUR however installing pre release applications from SCMs via ABS feels a little weird to me. I find it easier to keep a copy of the repository in my home directory and re-sync and build as needed. While I wanted to install xmonad-darcs manually I also didn't want to have files installed into my root file system that were not managed by pacman. Thankfully the xmonad README file contains instructions for installing xmonad into your home directory. This is a as simple as:

runhaskell Setup.lhs configure --user --prefix=$HOME
runhaskell Setup.lhs build
runhaskell Setup.lhs install --user

xmonad-contrib can be installed in a similar way. Add ~/bin to the end of your PATH or the configure, compile, restart command normally bound to mod-q will not work. Now that I am running xmonad-darcs I am free to have a play with some of the modules that are only available in the current darcs version. Modules that I am currently configuring or wanting to look at include:

  • XMonad.Actions.GridSelect
  • XMonad.Actions.Submap
  • XMonad.Actions.Search
  • XMonad.Layout.HintedGrid
  • XMonad.Layout.IM
  • XMonad.Layout.LayoutHints
  • XMonad.Layout.PerWorkspace
  • XMonad.Util.NamedScratchpad
  • XMonad.Layout.Tabbed
  • XMonad.Prompt.Man

So far I have only looked at XMonad.Actions.GridSelect, XMonad.Layout.HintedGrid and XMonad.Actions.Search. Next up will be XMonad.Util.NamedScratchpad.

Last post I mentioned a pdf viewer called apvlv. Recently another post sprung up about yet another minimalist pdf viewer called zathura. It looks interesting as well and worth checking out.

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