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Basic installation

This describes two alternate installation methods. In any case, you also have to install the dependencies. Beside the standard libraries (GLib, XLib) which are found on nearly any system, you should install dzen2 (as current as possible) which is needed by the default

Via the package manager

You always should prefer installing herbstluftwm via your package manager on your system. It should be called herbstluftwm.

After installing it, the default configuration file has to be copied to your home directory:

mkdir -p ~/.config/herbstluftwm
cp /etc/xdg/herbstluftwm/autostart ~/.config/herbstluftwm/

You also should activate the tab completion for herbstclient. In case of bash, you can either activate the tab completion in general or source the herbstclient-completion from the bash_completion.d directory in your bashrc. In case of zsh the tab-completion normally is activated already (if not, consider activating it).

As usual you can define herbstluftwm as your window manager by either selecting herbstluftwm in your login manager or by starting it in your ~/.xinitrc, mostly by writing to your xinitrc (or .xsession on some systems):

# start herbstluftwm in locked mode (it will be unlocked at the end of your
# autostart)
exec herbstluftwm --locked

After logging in the next time, you will get a default herbstluftwm session.

Directly from git

If there is no package for your platform or if you want to use the current git version, then you can pull directly from the main repository:

git clone git:// herbstluftwm
cd herbstluftwm
# if you want to use the stable version of herbstluftwm, then type:
# git checkout stable
# you can switch back to the development version anytime by:
# git checkout master
make # build the binaries

# install files
mkdir -p ~/bin
# you also have to put $HOME/bin to your path, e.g. by:
echo 'export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin' >> ~/.bashrc # or to your zshrc, etc...
ln -s `pwd`/herbstluftwm ~/bin/
ln -s `pwd`/herbstclient ~/bin/

# copy the configuration
mkdir -p ~/.config/herbstluftwm/
cp share/autostart ~/.config/herbstluftwm/
cp share/ ~/.config/herbstluftwm/

If you are using bash, then source the bash completion file in your ~/.bashrc

source path-to/herbstluftwm/share/herbstclient-completion

If you are using zsh, then copy the share/_herbstclient file to the appropriate zsh-completion directory.

Each time, there is an update, you have to do the following steps in your herbstluftwm directory:

git pull

You also can switch to another branch (e.g. stable for the current release or master for the development version), by doing this in your herbstluftwm directory:

git checkout desiredbranch # insert the branch here
make cleandeps

First steps

After starting herbstluftwm the screen is filled with a green background initially, which indicates, that there is only one large frame. A frame is a container where actual windows can be placed or which can be split into two frames.

Start an xterm by pressing Alt-Return, which will fill your entire screen.

Client The only way to communicate to herbstluftwm is by using the client application called herbstclient. Its usual syntax is: herbstclient COMMAND [ARGUMENTS]. This calls a certain COMMAND within your running herbstluftwm instance, causes some effect (which depends on the given ARGUMENTS). This produces some output which is printed by herbstclient and lets herbstclient exit with a exit-code (e.g. 0 for success) like many other UNIX tools:

    shell              COMMANDS,
       \ COMMAND,      ARGUMENTS
        \ ARGUMENTS  .---------.
         \          /           \
          V        /             V
         herbstclient         herbstluftwm
          /        ^             /
         / output,  \           /
        / exit-code  '---------'
       V               output,
 shell/terminal       exit-code

The most simple command only prints the herbstluftwm version:

$ # lines prefixed with $ describes what to type, other lines describe the
$ # typical output
$ # Type: her<tab>c<tab> ve<tab>
$ herbstclient version
herbstluftwm 0.4.1 (built on Aug 30 2012)
$ herbstclient set window_border_active_color red
$ # now the window border turned red

The configuration of herbstluftwm only is done by calling commands via herbstclient. So the only configuration file is the autostart which is placed at ~/.config/herbstluftwm/ and which is a sequence of those herbstclient calls.

Open it in your favourite text editor and replace the Mod-line by this to use the Super-key (or also called Windows-key) as the main modifier:

# Mod=Mod1 # use alt as the main modifier
Mod=Mod4 # use Super as the main modifier

After saving the autostart file, you have to reload the configuration:

# the following line is identical to directly calling:
# ~/.config/herbstluftwm/autostart
herbstclient reload

Now you may notice that the red border color of your terminal turned green again, because the color is set in the default autostart. That’s the typical configuration workflow:

Try some new settings in the command line

Add them to the autostart file

Press Mod-Shift-r which calls the reload command or directly execute the autostart file from your shell to get the error messages if something went wrong.

howtos.txt · Last modified: 2013/03/08 05:59 by the_compiler