[xmonad] Customizing xmonad on debian lenny

Chris Jones cjns1989 at gmail.com
Wed Feb 10 11:33:16 EST 2010

On Tue, Feb 09, 2010 at 02:00:43AM EST, Ivan Miljenovic wrote:
> On 9 February 2010 16:40, Chris Jones <cjns1989 at gmail.com> wrote:

> > I wouldn't mind installing the current stable version of xmonad, but
> > since the version from the debian stable repository pulled something
> > like 400 Meg of Haskell dependencies, I have a feeling this is
> > probably not going to be straightforward.
> I expect that that 400 MB of Haskell dependencies is mainly composed
> of GHC, which you will need if you want to customise XMonad anyway.
> By itself, XMonad is more of a tiling WM library with a very boring
> sample WM included as a demo.

hehe.. uninteresting was the word that came to my mind.

In the world of software, I can think of lots of uninteresting stuff but
problably nothing more boring than window managers. That's why I'm
looking for one that just gets out of the way and lets me get on with my
life. What does interest me, though is the tiling interface per se, how
it can make things more effective than the traditional destktop with its
menus, icons, and all that point & click stuff. What I have done so far
is toned down one of the better thought-out ones -- i.e.  Window Maker,
eventually removing practically everything, save for a few keyboard
bindings that fire up frequently used applications and let me switch
workspaces. Not a good approach to the problem: makes more sense to
start with the bare metal and add in the stuff you need.

As to the dependencies, you are likely quite correct. It's just the way
the packaging system works, it delivers everything Haskell, including
mountains of doc that can be browsed online, rather than try to be more
selective and end up missing something useful.

On Tue, Feb 09, 2010 at 05:43:58AM EST, wagnerdm at seas.upenn.edu wrote:

> Come join us in #xmonad on Freenode. We will make fun of you for a few  
> minutes for using such an ancient xmonad, then do our best to help you  
> out.

That won't be necessary. I eventually got a chance to boot into debian
testing and with 0.8 everything appears to behave as advertised.

> As for 400MB of Haskell dependencies, I'm rather surprised that you're  
> able to customize 0.7 without having those same dependencies. 

When you apt-get xmonad, regardless of the version, debian ends up
installing what looks like close to a hundred packages. Meaning that I
was concerned that trying to install manually might have landed me in
dependency hell. I don't think this would have been the case, though:
despite the large number of packages, and size thereof.. the actual
dependency is quite trivial: you just need a working Haskell environment
in order to configure xmonad. Doesn't look like a case of fifteen layers
of libraries, with half of them dummy packages to resolve compatiblity

> If you've got GHC installed, you might want to consider grabbing X11,
> xmonad, and xmonad-contrib from the darcs repositories (even the
> bleeding edge is quite stable -- I've never had it crash) and trying
> to build those.

As stated above, the debian squeeze version appears to be fairly easy to
set up. Where I did waste a lot of time was with xmobar. Peculiar syntax
and rather approximate documenation. I probably would have been better
off taking the dzen route.

One quick question, I see a bunch of screenshots on the xmonad wiki and
some look pretty much like what I'm trying to end up with, but the
configuration files or scripts appear not to have been made available.

Sorry for trying to steal from other folks, but I don't have much time
to devote to this right now, and I thought that it might be an effective
approach to clone someone's configuration and use that as a starting

Thank you for your comments.


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