Impressions: My week with XMonad

I have been a fan of minimalistic window managers for a long time. It began when I first switched to Blackbox in 2002 and continued on as I migrated to newer Blackbox variants such as Fluxbox and then on to Openbox. Although, when I switched to Openbox in 2005 it had been rewritten and no longer shared any code with its predecessor.

Openbox has remained my preferred stacking window manager and it probably always will be.

However, about a week ago I became interested in trying out a tiling window manager for once and see how I liked it.

I have a dual monitor setup with a plethora of windows constantly on the screen at any given time so the decision to try out a tiling window manager really was a no brainer. I did some basic research into a few of the popular tiling window managers that are available and installed a few as well so that I could get an initial feel for each of them.

I seemed to gravitate more towards XMonad , a dynamic tiling window manager written in Haskel and licensed under the BSD 3-Clause "Revised" License, so after some deliberation I decided that it would be the one that I would be using.

XMonad is also generally pretty predominant within the Desktop Screenshot threads on the Arch Linux forums so that helped sway my decision a bit as well along with the project's documentation which showed that it was a highly extendable and customizable.

The amount of customization available did come with a price though. Even though I got the hang of things pretty quick it still took me a few days of reading through the documentation, inspecting various sample configuration files, and trying out parts that interested me before I was confident enough to create a configuration file of my own that I would truly be happy with.

To be honest, each day that I spent tinkering with Xmonad was rather fun in a way. I truly enjoyed seeking what made it tick and learning what it was capable of doing. The Magnifier combined with the Grid layout quickly became my defacto setup for the monitor which held all my terminal windows and I also liked being able to create a prompt which enabled me to initiate searchs through DuckDuckGo and other search engines of my choosing right from my desktop.

The past week with XMonad has been a great experience and I plan on using continuing to use it on my main computer. I have found that XMonad is an excellent tiling window manager which holds true to its claim that it proudly displays at the top of its website:

"In a normal WM, you spend half your time aligning and searching for windows. xmonad makes work easier, by automating this."

I would recommend that you at least give it a shot if you are on the fence or simply have a passing interest in it. XMonad can also be configured to integrate into the GNOME, KDE, or XFCE desktop environments should you be interested in doing that instead of running it standalone as it normally would.


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