xmonad-contrib-0.11.1: Third party extensions for xmonad

Safe HaskellSafe-Inferred




This is a brief tutorial that will teach you how to create a basic xmonad configuration.

For more detailed instructions on extending xmonad with the xmonad-contrib library, see XMonad.Doc.Extending.


Configuring xmonad

xmonad can be configured by creating and editing the Haskell file:


If this file does not exist, xmonad will simply use default settings; if it does exist, xmonad will use whatever settings you specify. Note that this file can contain arbitrary Haskell code, which means that you have quite a lot of flexibility in configuring xmonad.

HISTORICAL NOTE regarding upgrading from versions (< 0.5) of xmonad or using old documentation:

xmonad-0.5 delivered a major change in the way xmonad is configured. Prior to version 0.5, configuring xmonad required editing a source file called Config.hs, manually recompiling xmonad, and then restarting. From version 0.5 onwards, however, you should NOT edit this file or manually compile with ghc --make. All you have to do is edit xmonad.hs and restart with mod-q; xmonad does the recompiling itself. The format of the configuration file also changed with version 0.5; enabling simpler and much shorter xmonad.hs files that only require listing those settings which are different from the defaults.

While the complicated template.hs (man/xmonad.hs) files listing all default settings are still provided for reference, once you wish to make substantial changes to your configuration, the template.hs style configuration is not recommended. It is fine to use top-level definitions to organize your xmonad.hs, but wherever possible it is better to leave out settings that simply duplicate defaults.

A simple example

Here is a basic example, which starts with the default xmonad configuration and overrides the border width, default terminal, and some colours:

    -- An example, simple ~/.xmonad/xmonad.hs file.
    -- It overrides a few basic settings, reusing all the other defaults.

    import XMonad

    main = xmonad $ defaultConfig
        { borderWidth        = 2
        , terminal           = "urxvt"
        , normalBorderColor  = "#cccccc"
        , focusedBorderColor = "#cd8b00" }

This will run 'xmonad', the window manager, with your settings passed as arguments.

Overriding default settings like this (using "record update syntax"), will yield the shortest config file, as you only have to describe values that differ from the defaults.

As an alternative, you can copy the template xmonad.hs file (found either in the man directory, if you have the xmonad source, or on the xmonad wiki config archive at http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/Xmonad/Config_archive) into your ~/.xmonad/ directory. This template file contains all the default settings spelled out, and you should be able to simply change the ones you would like to change.

To see what fields can be customized beyond the ones in the example above, the definition of the XConfig data structure can be found in XMonad.Core.

Checking whether your xmonad.hs is correct

After changing your configuration, it is a good idea to check that it is syntactically and type correct. You can do this easily by using an xmonad flag:

    $ xmonad --recompile

If there is no output, your xmonad.hs has no errors. If there are errors, they will be printed to the console. Patch them up and try again.

Note, however, that if you skip this step and try restarting xmonad with errors in your xmonad.hs, it's not the end of the world; xmonad will simply display a window showing the errors and continue with the previous configuration settings. (This assumes that you have the 'xmessage' utility installed; you probably do.)

Loading your configuration

To get xmonad to use your new settings, type mod-q. (Remember, the mod key is 'alt' by default, but you can configure it to be something else, such as your Windows key if you have one.) xmonad will attempt to compile this file, and run it. If everything goes well, xmonad will seamlessly restart itself with the new settings, keeping all your windows, layouts, etc. intact. (If you change anything related to your layouts, you may need to hit mod-shift-space after restarting to see the changes take effect.) If something goes wrong, the previous (default) settings will be used. Note this requires that GHC and xmonad are in the $PATH in the environment from which xmonad is started.