Exploring the XMonad tiling window manager

Graphical Interface

Article from Issue 259/2022

Many users never look back once they get started with a tiling window manager. A close look at XMonad shows why.

I am not much of a graphical guy when it comes to computing. I know this sounds a bit clichÈ for a *nix nerd, but I live in the command line. I am a software developer and all I need is both vi/Vim and grep (no flame wars please) and a command line, preferably Bash, to use them in. I do all of my development out of locally hosted headless virtual machines and SSH into those virtual machines via a wonderful feature called port forwarding. The graphical desktop environment tends to be an afterthought for me, but even though that may often be the case, I still prefer it to be functional and allow me to remain productive.

I miss the days of simplicity when less was more. Nowadays, there are more desktop environments to choose from. Some of which are very lightweight while others dip into the heavier side of things. And while choice is never a bad thing, too much choice can often be intimidating. For instance, which desktop environment is best suited for you? Which features or functions are you looking for most? Are you looking for a composite window manager or a tiling window manager? Wait, what? What are composite and tiling window managers?

Window Managers

Many of us *nix users have grown used to the mainstream desktop environments, which include Gnome, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, or your preferred desktop environment, and it becomes difficult to fathom that others (still) exist – but they do. As unique as some of them may be, each is powerful in their own right. But before I dive into one particular desktop environment, I wish to cover the basics of window managers.


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