XMonad is a tiling window manager for X11. I’ve only used it for a day, but I’m addicted. I can’t see myself going back to a non-tiling WM:
- I love not having to resize windows to put them next to each other.
- I love the extra screen space of not having window borders
- I love being able to run tons of programs on my small laptop screen, but still be able to see them all
- As a developer, I love that xmonad is small (just a thousand lines of Haskell), AND it’s been run through a theorem prover!
However, you probably don’t want to run xmonad as a top-level window manager. If you run xmonad inside a gnome session, you get all the good stuff gnome usually does for free. Things like message notifications, wireless network connectivity, graphical multiple monitor support, password-management, volume control, printer support, power management, and device management. You could set up all that independently of gnome (and people do), but I don’t consider it a good use of time.
Here’s how to run XMonad as a drop-in replacement for gnome’s default window manager (Metacity):
1) Install XMonad. Open a terminal and enter
sudo apt-get install xmonad
2) Configure XMonad to interact happily with gnome. Make a file
~/.xmonad/xmonad.hs, and put in it:
import XMonad import XMonad.Config.Gnome main = xmonad gnomeConfig
Compile this config file by typing
xmonad --recompile at the terminal.
This is the crucial step most guides leave out. If you don’t do this, xmonad will try and tile the two gnome panels, and then the nautilus desktop application will steal full the whole screen, and you won’t be able to switch to your other programs, and you will swear a lot.
3) Tell gnome to use xmonad instead of metacity. At the terminal, enter:
gconftool-2 -s /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/windowmanager xmonad --type string
And you’re done! Logout, and log back in. The gnome-panel will happily coexist with the tiling window manager.
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