Switched from KDE to xmonad

September 18th, 2008

Within the last couple of days, I’ve started using xmonad, a tiling window manager, instead of KDE. Tiling window managers automatically position most windows on your screen, freeing you from having to move, rearrange, and resize them all the time. It sounds scary at first, but it turns out to be incredibly nice and efficient. There are some nice videos and testimonials at the xmonad homepage.

I’ve switched all the devices I use frequently to xmonad. That includes everything from my 9.1″ Eee (1024×600) to my 24″ workstation at work (1920×1200). I’ve only been using it for 2 days, but already I feel more productive. Also my wrist feels happier because I have almost completely eliminated the need to use a mouse.

xmonad simultaneously feels shiny and modern, and old school. It is perfectly usable as your main interface. Mod-p brings up a dmenu-based quick program launcher, keyboard-oriented of course. No more opening up terminals to launch programs, or worse, having to use the mouse to navigate a menu for them.

There’s a lot of documentation available for xmonad, including an “about xmonad” document, a guided tour, and a step-by-step guide to configuring xmonad that I wrote up.

I’ve been using KDE for at least 8 years now, if not more. WindowMaker, fvwm2, fvwm, etc. before that. This is my first step with tiling window managers, and I like it. You can, of course, use xmonad with KDE. Or you can go “old school” and set up a status bar and tray yourself, as I’ve done. KDE seems quite superfluous when xmonad is in use. I think I’ve replaced a gig of KDE software with a 2MB window manager. Whee!

Take a look at xmonad. If you like the keyboard or the shell, you’ll be hooked.

Categories: Desktop Linux

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Comments Feed13 Comments

  1. arch0njw

    Why not “awesome”? Just curious. I don’t use it; I use KDE and am pretty happy with it.

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    Well, I *do* think xmonad is awesome. I guess I didn’t use that specific word.

    Reply

    Drew Reply:

    I can’t tell if you’re just being clever or if you perhaps misunderstood, but I’ll go ahead and clarify at risk of sounding a bit slow. I think he was asking if there was a reason you picked xmonad over “awesome window manager” (http://awesome.naquadah.org/).

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    I guess in this case my comment was what it was because I hadn’t heard of Awesome WM.

  2. Porges

    The thing I find problematic about switching to XMonad (or another keyboard-based interface) is what to do about web browsing. Are there any good solutions for browsing using the keyboard without wearing out the tab key?

    Reply

    Smitti Reply:

    Yes, Vimperator plugin for Firefox.
    http://vimperator.mozdev.org/
    A perfect match for Xmonad!

    Reply

  3. TheGZeus

    Being a lover of Screen and Emacs, I use StumpWM(Common Lisp, Biotch!) for my WM and Conkeror for my browser.
    Well, I’m typing this in Emacs-w3m, but that’s probably temorary, I ahve to finish setting my fonts up for Conkeror.

    Reply

  4. Jim Stuttard

    Hi,
    I love xmonad (sans DM), archlinux 26.2, eeepc 701.
    BTW somewhere my keymap needs correcting for the eeepc’s 84-keys but haven’t yet guessed or looked for where it’s set. How did you config yours, or is it my archlinux X installation?
    Cheers

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    I didn’t have to do anything special. I did remap Mod to the Home (Windows) button; it used Alt by default. See the “step by step” link above for how I set it up.

    Reply

  5. Daniel Burrows

    Agreed: xmonad rocks, and so does not having to use the mouse all the time. In fact: recently one of my USB mice died, so I’ve been sharing one between two devices until I get around to shopping for a new one. Several times now I’ve sat down at a computer, used it happily for five or ten minutes, and then suddenly realized that the mouse was plugged into the other computer!

    Reply

  6. nucco

    I tried awesome. I went back to metacity because I couldn’t keep all those keyboard shortcuts in my head.

    But most of all, I couldn’t figure out how to select wireless networks, or to put it simply, how to use Network-Manager. No, I don’t hate the terminal, but I prefer to use it for things its best at: repetitive tasks.

    Reply

    Benjamin M. A'Lee Reply:

    Because, of course, clicking on menus and buttons all the time just to run a simple program isn’t at all repetitive. ;)

    Reply

    beroal Reply:

    > clicking on menus and buttons all the time just to run a simple program isn’t at all repetitive

    Clicking on menus and buttons is not *a task*.

    Reply

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