Xmonad/Notable changes since 0.8

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This page is for keeping a record of significant changes in darcs xmonad and xmonad-contrib since the 0.8 release. See 'darcs changes' for more details about miscellaneous feature enhancements, and documentation and bug fixes not noted here.

(0.8.1 was a maintenance release, with no changes to user functionality. It simply includes ghc-6.10.1 related updates and a ghc optimization bug workaround for 64-bit users building xmonad-contrib on ghc-6.10.1.)

The idea is to put here a list of things which a user upgrading from 0.8 to 0.9 might like to know, so that they are sure to be included in the 0.9 release notes.

Changes to the xmonad core

  • Spawned processes are now handled by xmonad. Using 'exec xmonad' in startup files now "does the right thing."
  • New --restart command line flag to restart a running xmonad process.
  • Focus changes across screens with mouse, even for empty workspaces.
  • XMonad now exports (.|.), no need to import Data.Bits.
  • StackSet exports focusUp', focusDown' for Stack in addition to focusUp/Down StackSet versions.
  • XConfig has new handleEventHook:: Event -> X All field supporting custom event hooks. The function should return (All True) to have the default handler run afterward. (See Graphics.X11.Xlib.Extras Event, Core.hs, Main.hs)
  • X is now typeable. (Enables Language.Haskell.Interpreter, i.e. hint integration, see xmonad-eval project below.)

Changes to xmonad-contrib

Updated modules

Modules formerly using Hooks.EventHook now use Event from core. Note: EwmhDesktops users must change configuration by adding a handleEventHook to XConfig.


  • Actions.CycleWS now includes HiddenWS type.
  • Actions.Submap now supports a default action, enabling looping to, e.g., set volume, or use an explicit 'exit submap' key.
  • Actions.Plane has a planeKeys function to automatically set up default workspace navigation.
  • Actions.Search has more searches.
  • Actions.WindowBringer now works with external programs other than dmenu, such as nafai's gtkmenu
  • Actions.CopyWindow has new runOrCopy
  • Actions.WindowGo has raiseMaster variant of runOrRaiseMaster


  • Hooks.EwmhDesktops requires new handleEventHook = ewmhDesktopsEventHook, added to defaultConfig.
  • Hooks.DynamicLog module has a new 'statusBar' function to simplify status bar configuration. Similar 'dzen' and 'xmobar' quick bar functions have changed type to allow better compositionality.The 'dynamicLogDzen' and 'dynamicLogXmobar' have been removed. Format stripping functions for xmobar and dzen have been added to allow independent formatting for ppHidden and ppUrgent.
  • Hooks.UrgencyHook now can be configured with reminders at intervals, and urgency can be cleared with a keybinding even without "visiting" the urgent window.


  • Layout.Grid has configurable aspect ratio.
  • Layout.LayoutHints layoutHintsToCenter added, to eliminate gaps between windows by moving them to outside edges.
  • Layout.Master is now a layout modifier rather than layout; backward compatible with old Master.
  • Layout.ThreeColumns has several new features including placing master at center.


  • Util.EZConfig includes <Print>, and on systems with X11 that supports them, multimedia keys.
  • Util.Loggers has several new loggers and logger formatting utilities.
  • Util.Scratchpad has general spawn action allowing user to specify how to set resource to "scratchpad", allows use of gnome-terminal, etc. as scratchpads. Also new NamedScratchpad module now allows multiple summon/banishable applications.
  • Util.Themes has many more themes to try out with tabbed and other decorated layouts
  • Util.WindowProperties has general getProp32* helpers and doc improvements
  • Util.XSelection has new functions to allow transforming the selection before acting on it.


  • Config.Kde has optional KDE 4 specific settings.
  • XMonad.Prompt has more tab completion settings, configurable history filter, several bug fixes.
  • UTF-8 handling has been improved throughout core and contrib.

New contrib modules


  • Actions.CycleWindows -- cycle recent windows, cycle custom window order, focus nth window, change focused or unfocused window order. Esp. useful with layouts that hide some windows.
  • Actions.FloatSnap -- tools for moving and resizing floating windows with configurable snapping to various window edges.
  • Actions.GridSelect -- Graphically go to, select, do things with windows. With additional colourizers and documentation plus mouse support. Also generalized to work with more than just windows, use to select workspaces, applications to spawn, prompts, etc.
  • Actions.PhysicalScreens -- More intuitive use of multiple screens by physical ordering rather than ScreenID. (i.e. no more rebinding mod-{w,e,r} because xorg chose 0:middle, 1:right, 2:left, etc.)
  • Actions.SpawnOn -- Binding actions, hook, and prompts to spawn on given or current workspace.
  • Actions.TopicSpace -- Utilities for task oriented workspaces: set working directory, startup actions when no windows are on the space, display and navigate topic workspaces by history of last focused topics.
  • Actions.WithAll -- apply functions to all windows on a workspace.


  • Hooks.FloatNext -- No need to mess with DynamicHooks if you want to float next windows; use this instead!
  • Hooks.Place -- Manage floating windows in just about any conceivable manner. Very neat module for floating window users. Also see Actions.FloatSnap.
  • Hooks.InsertPosition -- Ready made options for position and focus of new windows, e.g 'insertPosition Master Newer' to insert at master and focus it, 'insertPosition Above Older', etc.


  • Layout.AutoMaster -- Modifies a base layout used in slave area by adding a horizontal master area above it (like Mirror Mastered). The master area shrinks to make more room for slaves as more slave windows are created, but can also manually shrink expand and increment or decrement number of masters as normal.
  • Layout.CenteredMaster -- Sort of a combination of Master's mastered modifier with Magnifier, adding a master frame above tiled windows that is centered or at the top right of the screen.
  • Layout.Cross -- Similar to Circle, but with a resizable center pane. Limits visible windows to five. Cycles the focused window into the main window keeping visible two above and two below in stack order.
  • Layout.ComboP -- Combine layouts more usefully than plain L.Combo: use window properties to decide which windows go to which layout, and move or swap windows between layouts.
  • Layout.FixedColumn -- Neat variation on Tall, using window hints to decide master width, e.g. have your terminal automatically be 80 columns wide in the master.
  • Layout.GridVariants -- More customizable Grid, and adjustable SplitGrid, for details see here.
  • Layout.IndependentScreens -- Utilities to simulate dwm's screen model, where each physical screen has its own set of the defined workspaces.
  • Layout.LayoutBuilder -- another method for combining layouts based on number of windows to place into different sub screen layouts.
  • Layout.Monitor -- Many useful functions for gkrellm, clock, widget type windows.
  • Layout.OneBig -- A little like Mosaic combined with Grid, this layout lets you specify a (top left) master area as fractions of screen dimension, (yes, can shrink/expand it), then it splits the rectangles below and to the right of that area into equal portions.
  • Layout.SubLayouts -- much requested tools to nest layouts in other layouts.
  • Layout.Spacing -- puts blank space around each window.
  • Layout.Mosaic -- Very versatile, easy to configure, fun layout that can yield anything from Full to TwoPane to Spiral to Grid. It sizes panes based on the relative sizes of a list of numbers. Keybindings can be added to resize windows and change the overall aspect ratio.


  • Util.Paste -- For pasting strings to windows.
  • Util.NamedScratchpad allows multiple summon/banishable application windows each with its own float configuration.

Deleted modules

  • Config.PlainConfig is now a separate project, shepheb's xmonad-light.

Related Packages

xmonad-light allows using a limited version of xmonad without having to have ghc installed. It provides a special syntax to customize a few common options using xmonad.conf instead of xmonad.hs.

Asgaroth's xmonad-eval uses the hint interpreter to manipulate xmonad state during runtime via normal haskell expressions ala emacs eval.

For users of >=ghc-6.10, the hlint package parses haskell source and offers suggestions on how to improve it.