[xmonad] Turning emacs mini-buffer window into a strut

John Yates john at yates-sheets.org
Sat May 2 13:25:20 EDT 2009

This is my first appearance in the xmonad community.  Those tracking
awesome may recognize this post as similar to one I posted earlier on
that mailing list.

Some backstory

As a longtime C++ programmer I had assumed that awesome's imperative
codebase (C++ and Lua) would present a gentler learning curve.  I made
some initial progress but ultimately found awesome still too immature
and undocumented to give me confidence of achieving my various goals
(of which possibly more in a subsequent posting).  On switching to
xmonad the greater maturity, generally good documentation, abundance
of contributed modules and availablity of example configurations
helped me greatly.  The only thing I miss from awesome is its somewhat
snappier performance.  My guess would be that that has nothing to do
with choice of implementation or scripting language, but rather with
the fact that awesome is built on xcb while xmonad is built on classic

My current challenge

Years ago I loved Apollo workstations' DM (Display Manager).  Ever
since becoming an emacs user I have dreamed of recreating that
environment.  The emergence of robust tiling window managers and the
example of Drew Adams' OneOnOne package
(http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/OneOnOneEmacs) leads me to believe
that after a couple decades the dream may now be close to realization.

For reference my environment is Ubuntu Jaunty, Gnome with a single top
panel on a 1920x1200 screen.  Under Gnome/Metacity I have
emacs-snapshot ( more or less working in the the single
mini-buffer for all windows mode.  (Here I use the term window to
refer to what in the Emacs world would be called a frame.)  The
mini-buffer window is positioned at the bottom of the screen and is
full-screen wide.  Alternatively I can position the mini-buffer at the
top of the screen just below the Gnome panel.

Now I want to move this Emacs arrangement to xmonad.  Because I have
arranged for the mini-buffer window to have a distinct resource type I
can recognize it in a manage hook.  From the xmonad FAQ and some
googling I believe that when that window appears I need to set its
override-redirect attribute to true and define it as a strut.  Though
I am working my way through Hal Daumé's "Yet Another Haskell Tutorial"
I fear it may be a while before I can code such a doStrut function.
Thus my appeal to the readers of this list.  My sense is that when the
mini-buffer window appears it is properly sized and positioned.  Thus
there should be no need to compute the strut components, they should
be directly liftable from the window.

Thanks in advance for any help,


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