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Xmonad as a Windowmanager for Slackware

Xmonad is a tiling window manager. For information about tiling window managers please read this wiki: wikipedia

For Xmonad read here

Required packages

Xmonad is not included in Slackware by default, but available via SlackBuilds.org. Xmonad is written in Haskell and therefore some packages of the Haskell series are required in order to build Xmonad. Here are the packages in the correct build order:

  1. ghc (the glasgow-haskell-compiler)
  2. haskell-syb
  3. haskell-utf8-string
  4. haskell-X11
  5. haskell-transformers
  6. haskell-mtl
  7. xmonad
  8. haskell-random
  9. xmonad-contrib
  10. haskell-hinotify
  11. haskell-stm
  12. haskell-X11-xft
  13. haskell-text
  14. haskell-parsec
  15. xmobar (provides a statusbar)

I have additionally installed dmenu which is integrated into the statusbar and starts programs (like gmrun). I have also installed trayer which provides a systray in the statusbar. Unfortunately trayer is only available as an rpm-package. I wanted to write a SlackBuild script for it, but the sources are incomplete. Another tray is stalonetray which is available via SlackBuilds.org.

Configuration of Xmonad

After building and installing the above packages you can configure Xmonad. One remarkable feature of xmonad as well as xmobar is that it is not only written in the functional language Haskell, but also the configuration is a Haskell file. This makes it a bit difficult to understand the configuration files if one doesn't know Haskell. Well, I once tried to learn Haskell but (yet) without success.

At first one has to configure .xinitrc in order to start Xmonad correctly when changing from runlevel 3 to 4.


the following sections of my .xinitrc configure dbus, the mouse pointer and trayer, then xmonad is started

# Use dbus-launch if installed.
if test x"$DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS" = x""; then
 dbuslaunch=`which dbus-launch`
 if test x"$dbus-launch" != x"" -a x"$dbus-launch" != x"no"; then
  eval `$dbus-launch --sh-syntax --exit-with-session`
xsetroot -cursor_name left_ptr
trayer --edge top --align right --SetDockType true --SetPartialStrut true \
         --expand true --width 10 --transparent true --height 14 &
exec xmonad


xmobar is a statusbar and displays useful information, in my case in the top part of the desktop. Below is an example of my .xmobarrc:

Config { font = "-misc-fixed-bold-R-normal-*-13-*-*-*-*-*-*-*"
    , bgColor = "#1074EA"
    , fgColor = "#DDDDDD"
    , position = TopW L 90
    , commands = [ Run BatteryP ["BAT1"]
               ["-t", "<acstatus><watts> (<left>%)",
                "-L", "10", "-H", "80", "-p", "3",
                "--", "-O", "<fc=green>On</fc> - ", "-o", "",
                "-L", "-15", "-H", "-5",
                "-l", "red", "-m", "blue", "-h", "green"] 60
          , Run Cpu ["-L","3","-H","50","--normal","green","--high","red"] 10
          , Run CpuFreq ["-t", "<cpu0> <cpu1>", "-L", "0", "-H", "2",
                  "-l", "lightblue", "-n","white", "-h", "red"] 50
          , Run Memory ["-t","Mem: <usedratio>%"] 10
          , Run Swap [] 10
          , Run Date "%a %d. %B %H:%M Uhr" "LC_TIME=de_DE date" 10
          , Run StdinReader
    , sepChar = "%"
    , alignSep = "}{"
    , template = "%StdinReader% }{ <fc=#FFD700>%date%</fc> | %cpu%  %cpufreq% | %memory% %swap% | Bat: %battery% "

The first lines configure the font, foreground/background-colors and the position on the screen. The rest configures the information which should be shown in xmobar, battery-state, CPU-load, CPU-frequency, Memory-usage and Swap-usage, the date. Note that LC_TIME=de_DE date forces the date command to use the language defined in LC_TIME (German in my case).

For further explanation please read the manuals.


Here is an example of my ~/.xmonad/xmonad.hs file

import XMonad
import XMonad.Hooks.DynamicLog
import XMonad.Hooks.ManageDocks
import XMonad.Util.Run(spawnPipe)
import XMonad.Util.EZConfig(additionalKeys)
import System.IO
myManageHook = composeAll
  [ className =? "Gimp"   --> doFloat
  , className =? "Vlc"    --> doFloat
main = do
  xmproc <- spawnPipe "/usr/bin/xmobar /home/markus/.xmobarrc"
  xmonad $ defaultConfig
    { manageHook = manageDocks <+> manageHook defaultConfig
    , layoutHook = avoidStruts $ layoutHook defaultConfig
    , logHook = dynamicLogWithPP xmobarPP
            { ppOutput = hPutStrLn xmproc
            , ppTitle = xmobarColor "green" "" . shorten 50
    } `additionalKeys`
    [ ((mod4Mask, xK_c  ), kill)
     ,((mod4Mask, xK_Return ), spawn "xterm")
    ]							]

Please read the documentation for xmonad.hs. This is only an example (which works well for me).

Additional Hints

One can reload the configurations for xmobar and/or xmonad after changes with MOD+q without leaving X. This is very useful.

When using a tiling window manager one experiences that some applications behave unusual. In my xmonad.hs file above you see Vlc and Gimp in the list of programs which should float. In order to find out the so called Classname of the application (through which the application can be detected by the window manager) there is a script in the xmonad-contrib package. You can find it in /usr/share/doc/xmonad-contrib-0.10/scripts/ directory.


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