Xmonad/General xmonad.hs config tips

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This document assumes you're running >= XMonad-0.8.

It describes general tips for configuring xmonad.hs, for example "How to make window X float by default" and others. If you can't find what you're searching for, you may want to look at the Config archive or ask for help on #xmonad@irc.freenode.net.

Also useful, for an overview of how to configure bindings and hooks, and (somewhat out of date) summary of xmonad-contrib extensions, see XMonad.Doc.Extending.

Please add what you found useful, and of course improving existing tips or adding alternatives is highly appreciated!

Managing Windows aka Manage Hooks

Making window float by default, or send it to specific workspace

This example shifts Rythmbox to workspace "=" and XDvi to "7:dvi", floats Xmessage, and uses manageDocks to leave gaps for status bars automatically. All this is combined with the default xmonad manageHook. This step-by-step tutorial covers initially setting up a manageHook, too.

-- module imports and other top level definitions

myManageHook = composeAll
   [ className =? "Rhythmbox" --> doShift "="
   , className =? "XDvi"      --> doShift "7:dvi"
   , className =? "Xmessage"  --> doFloat
   , avoidStruts

main = xmonad $ defaultConfig
   -- terminal, modMask, keys, etc.
   -- (bind to 'sendMessage ToggleStruts' to toggle avoidStruts statusbar)
   , manageHook    = manageHook defaultConfig <+> myManageHook -- uses default too
   -- layoutHook, logHook, etc.

This example sends Firefox to workspace "web" when it starts. Gajim gets sent to workspace "jabber". Finally, it floats Firefox dialog windows, Gajim and Xmessage windows, and windows with Google or Pidgin as any part of the class name, likewise any window with "VLC" anywhere in its title.

-- Data.List provides isPrefixOf isSuffixOf and isInfixOf
import Data.List 
myManageHook = composeAll . concat $
   [ [ className =? "Firefox-bin" --> doShift "web" ]
   , [ className =? "Gajim.py"    --> doShift "jabber" ]
   , [(className =? "Firefox" <&&> resource =? "Dialog") --> doFloat]

     -- using list comprehensions and partial matches
   , [ className =?  c --> doFloat | c <- myFloats ]
   , [ fmap ( c `isInfixOf`) className --> doFloat | c <- myMatchAnywhereFloatsC ]
   , [ fmap ( c `isInfixOf`) title     --> doFloat | c <- myMatchAnywhereFloatsT ]
  where myFloatsC = ["Gajim.py", "Xmessage"]
        myMatchAnywhereFloatsC = ["Google","Pidgin"]
        myMatchAnywhereFloatsT = ["VLC"] -- this one is silly for only one string!

Here's another example using both classes and titles:

myManageHook :: ManageHook
myManageHook = composeAll . concat $
    [ [ title =? t --> doFloat | t <- myTitleFloats]
    , [ className =? c --> doFloat | c <- myClassFloats ] ]
        myTitleFloats = ["Transferring"] -- for the KDE "open link" popup from konsole
        myClassFloats = ["Pinentry"] -- for gpg passphrase entry

See the FAQ about using xprop to get the properties of windows.

See also the documentation for ManageHook.

Making windows unfloat

A related task is - how do I unfloat windows of a particular class or name? Some people using lots of apps with dialogs and transient windows that don't set 'fixed size' or 'transient to' hints (so they don't float by default as intended) would rather default to floating everything, and specify windows to tile. Well, as before, we need to set up a managehook, and then write a simple function which duplicates the mod-t functionality of unfloating (but with a different type):

myManageHook :: ManageHook
myManageHook = composeAll [ className =? "defcon.bin.x86" --> unfloat,
                            className =? "Darwinia" --> unfloat ]
               <+> doFloat <+> manageDocks
                   where unfloat = ask >>= doF . W.sink

Starting an app on more than one workspace

To start emacs on workspaces 2, 3, and 4, for example, use something like the following in your manage hook:

-- etc
import XMonad.Actions.CopyWindow

myManageHook = composeAll
    [ className =? "Emacs" --> (ask >>= doF .  \w -> (\ws -> foldr ($) ws (copyToWss ["2","4"] w) ) . W.shift "3" ) :: ManageHook
    , resource  =? "kdesktop" --> doIgnore
  where copyToWss ids win = map (copyWindow win) ids

Ignoring a client (or having it sticky)

You can have the position and geometry of a client window respected, and have that window be sticky, by ignoring it when it is created:

main = xmonad $ defaultConfig
  , manageHook    = manageHook defaultConfig
                         (className =? "XClock" --> doIgnore)

Would let xclock be sticky, and have its geometry respected.

In >xmonad-0.8, the XMonad.Layout.Monitor offers some useful functions for managing such windows as well.

Key and Mouse Bindings

Adding your own keybindings

This adds Mod-x keybinding for running xlock.

import qualified Data.Map as M

main = xmonad $ defaultConfig {
  , keys          = \c -> mykeys c `M.union` keys defaultConfig c }
    mykeys (XConfig {modMask = modm}) = M.fromList $
         [ ((modm , xK_x), spawn "xlock") ]

For a list of the identifiers used for various keys, see Graphics.X11.Types and ExtraTypes.

Also, the Util.EZConfig extension allows adding keybindings with simpler syntax, and even creates submaps for sequences like, e.g. "mod-x f" to launch firefox. You can use normal xmonad keybinding lists with its additionalKeys function, or with additionalKeysP, the bindings look like this:

main = xmonad $ defaultConfig {
          terminal = "urxvt"
        , modMask  = mod4Mask
        [ ("M-<Up>", windows XMonad.StackSet.swapUp)
        , ("M-x f", spawn "firefox")

This is also described in [1]

Adding your own mouse bindings

Adding your own mouse bindings is explained in [2]

If you have a mouse with more than 5 buttons you can simply use '6' instead of 'button6' which isn't defined.

e.g. with EZConfig:

 ,((0, 6), (\w -> focus w >> windows W.swapMaster))

Displaying keybindings with dzen2

Sometimes, trying different xmonad.hs files, or while dialing in custom key bindings it can be nice to have a reminder of what does what. Of course, just editing or grepping the xmonad.hs is one solution, but for a nice colourized output, try adapting a script like this to your needs:

( echo "   ^fg($titleCol) ----------- keys -----------^fg()";
  egrep 'xK_|eys' ~/.xmonad/xmonad.hs | tail -n +$startLine \
    | sed -e 's/\( *--\)\(.*eys*\)/\1^fg('$commentCol')\2^fg()/' \
          -e 's/((\(.*xK_.*\)), *\(.*\))/^fg('$keyCol')\1^fg(), ^fg('$XCol')\2^fg()/'                                                                                
  echo '^togglecollapse()';
  echo '^scrollhome()' ) | dzen2 -fg $fgCol -bg $bgCol -x 700 -y 36 -l 22 -ta l -w 900 -p

Then bind a key to spawn "/path/to/my/showKeysScript". While there's plenty of room for improvement in the parsing, this is fine for a quick and dirty display of normal or additionalKeys style bindings. It obviously would need to be changed to parse additionalKeysP style. To have comments displayed, note that it looks for indented comments containing 'eys' so use "Keys" or "keys" in " --" style comments to create keybinding subsections.

Note that in older versions of dzen ^togglecollapse() and ^scrollhome() may not yet be supported. Use something like the following in dzen command line to get similar result:

-e 'onstart=togglecollapse,scrollhome;


Navigating and Displaying Workspaces

Using Next Previous Recent Workspaces rather than mod-n

The Actions.Plane and Actions.CycleWS extensions allow many ways to navigate workspaces, or shift windows to other workspaces. Plane is easier to set up, CycleWS allows nearly any behaviour you'd ever want. Actions.CycleRecentWS allows swapping with previous or next workspace similar to how many window managers cycle windows with alt tab.

Skipping the Scratchpad workspace while using CycleWS

The Util.Scratchpad module provides a configurable floating terminal that is easily shifted to the current workspace or banished to its own "SP" workspace. Most people want the "SP" tag ignored during workspace navigation.

Here's one way to do that with Actions.CycleWS, ready to be customized, for example to use HiddenEmptyWSs instead of HiddenNonEmptyWSs, etc.

Note that notSP is defined in the where clause of this example. It is just another name for (return $ ("SP" /=) . W.tag) :: X (WindowSpace -> Bool) Likewise, for getSortByIndexNoSP, look in where clause.

import qualified XMonad.StackSet as W
import XMonad.Util.EZConfig -- optional, but helpful
import Xmonad.Actions.CycleWS
import XMonad.Util.Scratchpad
import XMonad.Util.WorkspaceCompare

modKey = mod4Mask

--  other keybindings [    ]
    -- focus /any/ workspace except scratchpad, even visible
    [ ((modKey,               xK_Right ), moveTo Next (WSIs notSP))
    , ((modKey,               xK_Left  ), moveTo Prev (WSIs notSP))

    -- move window to /any/ workspace except scratchpad
    , ((modKey .|. shiftMask, xK_Right ), shiftTo Next (WSIs notSP))
    , ((modKey .|. shiftMask, xK_Left  ), shiftTo Prev (WSIs notSP))

    -- focus HiddenNonEmpty wss except scratchpad
    , ((modKey .|. controlMask , xK_Right),
          windows . W.greedyView =<< findWorkspace getSortByIndexNoSP Next HiddenNonEmptyWS 1)
    , ((modKey .|. controlMask , xK_Left),
          windows . W.greedyView =<< findWorkspace getSortByIndexNoSP Prev HiddenNonEmptyWS 1)

    -- move window to HiddenNonEmpty wss except scratchpad
    , ((modKey .|. shiftMask, xK_Right),
          windows . W.shift =<< findWorkspace getSortByIndexNoSP Next HiddenNonEmptyWS 1)
    , ((modKey .|. shiftMask, xK_Left),
          windows . W.shift =<< findWorkspace getSortByIndexNoSP Prev HiddenNonEmptyWS 1)

    -- move window to and focus HiddenNonEmpty wss except scratchpad
    , ((modKey .|. controlMask .|. shiftMask, xK_Right), shiftAndView' Next)
    , ((modKey .|. controlMask .|. shiftMask, xK_Left), shiftAndView' Prev)

  -- Make sure to put any where clause after your last list of key bindings*
  where notSP = (return $ ("SP" /=) . W.tag) :: X (WindowSpace -> Bool)
        -- | any workspace but scratchpad
        shiftAndView dir = findWorkspace getSortByIndex dir (WSIs notSP) 1
                >>= \t -> (windows . W.shift $ t) >> (windows . W.greedyView $ t)
        -- | hidden, non-empty workspaces less scratchpad
        shiftAndView' dir = findWorkspace getSortByIndexNoSP dir HiddenNonEmptyWS 1
                >>= \t -> (windows . W.shift $ t) >> (windows . W.greedyView $ t)
        getSortByIndexNoSP =
                fmap (.scratchpadFilterOutWorkspace) getSortByIndex

  -- *For example, you could not (++) another list here

  --   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
  --   If notSP or some variant of the shiftAndView functions isn't needed, but
  --   you do want to use shiftTo or moveTo, delete notSP and use a version of:
  --   ((modKey, xK_Right ), moveTo Next . WSIs . return $ ("SP" /=) . W.tag)

Also of course, the where definitions, or X () actions bound here can be moved out to top level definitions if you want to use them repeatedly.

Do not show scratchpad workspace in status bar or dynamicLog

You can also use fmap (.scratchpadFilterOutWorkspace) on a ppSort in your logHook.

  , logHook = dynamicLogWithPP defaultPP {
                ppSort = fmap (.scratchpadFilterOutWorkspace) $ ppSort defaultPP


import XMonad.Util.WorkspaceCompare

  -- etc
  , logHook = dynamicLogWithPP defaultPP {
                ppSort = fmap (.scratchpadFilterOutWorkspace) getSortByTag

Doing things on another workspace while focus stays on current

You can use something like the following in your keybindings for a two monitor setup (or two screens via LayoutScreens.)

      -- c here is your XConfig l, aka defaultConfig { ....
    , ((modMask c, xK_v), withOtherOf2 W.view)
    , ((modMask c, xK_f), withOtherOf2 W.shift)
    , ((modMask c, xK_u), onOtherOf2 W.focusUp)

withOtherOf2 :: (WorkspaceId -> WindowSet -> WindowSet) -> X ()
withOtherOf2 fn = do
   tag <- withWindowSet $ screenWorkspace . (1 -) . W.screen . W.current
   flip whenJust (windows . fn) tag

onOtherOf2 :: (WindowSet -> WindowSet) -> X ()
onOtherOf2 fn' = do
   wset <- gets windowset
   other <- screenWorkspace . (1 -) . W.screen . W.current $ wset
   windows $ W.view (W.currentTag wset) . fn' . maybe id W.view other

More generally

  onWorkspace :: WorkspaceId -> (WindowSet -> WindowSet)
              -> (WindowSet -> WindowSet)
  onWorkspace wsid f w = view (currentTag w) . f . view wsid $ w

Arranging Windows aka Layouts

Binding keys to a specific layout

Sometimes people want to bind a key to a particular layout, rather than having to cycle through the available layouts:

You can do this using the JumpToLayout message from the XMonad.Layout.LayoutCombinators extension module. For example:

import XMonad hiding ( (|||) )  -- don't use the normal ||| operator
import XMonad.Layout.LayoutCombinators   -- use the one from LayoutCombinators instead
import XMonad.Util.EZConfig  -- add keybindings easily

main = xmonad myConfig

myConfig = defaultConfig {
  layoutHook = tall ||| Mirror tall ||| Full
} `additionalKeysP`
  [ ("M-<F1>", sendMessage $ JumpToLayout "Tall")
  , ("M-<F2>", sendMessage $ JumpToLayout "Mirror Tall")
  , ("M-<F3>", sendMessage $ JumpToLayout "Full")       
tall = Tall 1 (3/100) (1/2)

Docks, Monitors, Sticky Windows

See #Ignoring a client (or having it sticky)


Using local state in the config file

As the xmonad config file is really just the entry point to the entire program, you can do arbitrary IO effects before running xmonad. Including initialising mutable "global" state. That state could even be made persistent , independent of xmonad's built-in persistence (by writing it to a file on mod-q).

Here's an example where we store the layouts "IncMaster" value in a local mutable variable, so that we can provide a key binding that takes that value to compute an offset.

import XMonad
import XMonad.Util.EZConfig
import Data.IORef
import XMonad.Actions.FocusNth

main = do
    offset <- newIORef 1
    xmonad $ defaultConfig
           ([ ((modMask defaultConfig, xK_comma ),
                    do io $ modifyIORef offset (\i -> max 0 (i-1))
                       sendMessage (IncMasterN (-1))

            , ((modMask defaultConfig, xK_period ),
                    do io $ modifyIORef offset (+1)
                       sendMessage (IncMasterN 1)
                   ) -- %! Expand the master area

            ] ++ [((modMask defaultConfig .|. shiftMask, k), do
                        n <- io $ readIORef offset
                        focusNth (i+n))
                 | (i, k) <- zip [0 .. 8] [xK_1 ..]]

Note IORef is allocated at startup.

Sharing a configuration across different hosts

It is possible to have different parts of the configuration file vary from one host to another, without needing a different config file for each host. Here is an example from my configuration file:

import System.Posix.Unistd

-- etc

main = do
    host <- fmap nodeName getSystemID
    -- or -- host <- nodeName `fmap` getSystemID
    -- or -- host <- nodeName <$> getSystemID -- import Control.Applicative
    xmonad $ defaultConfig
      { terminal           = "rxvt"
      , modMask            = (if host === "janice" then
                                mod1Mask .|. controlMask
      -- also can pass hostname to functions outside main if needed
      , logHook = dynamicLogWithPP $ myPP host
      , startupHook = whereAmI host
      } where -- like this:
          whereAmI name = spawn $ xmessage "Silly, this host is " ++ name

        -- and this:
myPP hostname =
    if hostname === "janice" then dzenPP else xmobarPP

Multi head with VMs VNC or other non standard X

To manually split your screen if your X server doesn't deal with xinerama correctly, see the LayoutScreens extension or Fake Xinerama.

Also, if you're not sure if xmonad was compiled with xinerama support, see the xinerama sections in the XMonad FAQ to check and remedy.