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       herbstluftwm-tutorial - A tutorial introduction to herbstluftwm


       This tutorial explains how to create a basic herbstluftwm setup and
       introduces the major herbstluftwm features. This tutorial neither
       covers all features nor specifies the mentioned features entirely; see
       herbstluftwm(1) for a compact and more complete description.

       This tutorial covers these topics:

       ·   Basic installation

       ·   Usage of the client

       ·   The tiling method

       ·   Tags (or workspaces...)

       ·   Multi-Monitor handling


       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).

   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

           git clone git:// herbstluftwm
           cd herbstluftwm
           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

               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


       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

           # 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


       After starting herbstluftwm, the screen is surrounded by a green frame
       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


       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. This causes some effect (which depends on the
       given COMMAND and ARGUMENTS), 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:

        1. Try some new settings in the command line

        2. Add them to the autostart file

        3. 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.

       To learn more about herbstluftwm, just go through the man page line by
       line and check using the herbstluftwm(1) man page what it does. For a
       quick introduction to the central paradigms, continue reading this.


       Initially there is one frame. Each frame has one of the two following
       possible types:

        1. It serves as a container for windows, i.e. it can hold zero up to
           arbitrarily many windows. Launch several more terminals to see what
           happens: If there are multiple windows in one frame, they are
           aligned below each other. To change this layout algorithm, press
           Mod-space to cycle all the available layouting algorithms for the
           focused frame.

        2. A frame also can be split into two subframes, which can be aligned
           next to or below each other. Press Mod-o to split to an horizontal
           alignment. To navigate to the fresh frame right of the old one
           press Mod-l. Press Mod-u to split vertically. The intuitive
           navigation is:

                     ╭ h (or ←) ╮                 ╭ left
                     ⎪ j (or ↓) ⎪   means         ⎪ down
               Mod + ┥ k (or ↑) ┝  ═══════> focus ┥ up
                     ╰ l (or →) ╯                 ╰ right

           To undo splitting, you can remove a frame via Mod-r. To shift some
           window from one frame to one of its neighbours, use the same
           keyboard shortcut while holding the Shift key pressed. It is not
           possible to resize single windows, only to resize frames. The
           according keyboard shortcut is the same while holding Control
           pressed. All in all it is:

                                   ╭ h (or ←) ╮                          ╭ left
                     ╭         ╮   ⎪ j (or ↓) ⎪  means  ╭ focus frame  ╮ ⎪ down
               Mod + ┥ Shift   ┝ + ┥ k (or ↑) ┝  ═════> ┥ move window  ┝ ┥ up
                     ╰ Control ╯   ╰ l (or →) ╯         ╰ resize frame ╯ ╰ right

       With this, you can define a custom layout. It can be printed via the
       layout command:

           $ herbstclient layout
           ╾─┐ horizontal 50% selection=1
             ├─┐ vertical 70% selection=0
             │ ├─╼ vertical: 0x1400009
             │ └─╼ vertical:
             └─╼ max: 0x1a00009 [FOCUS]

       Just play with it a bit to how it works. You also can permanently save
       the layout using the dump command:

           $ herbstclient dump
           (split horizontal:0.500000:1
               (split vertical:0.700000:0
                   (clients vertical:0 0x1400009)
                   (clients vertical:0))
               (clients max:0 0x1a00009))
           $ layout=$(herbstclient dump)

       And after some changes you can rewind to the original layout with the
       load command:

           $ herbstclient load "$layout"       # mind the quotes!


       A tag consists of a name and a frame layout with clients on it. With
       the default autostart, there are nine tags named 1 to 9. You can switch
       to the ith tag using Mod-i, e.g. Mod-4 to switch to tag 4 or with the
       command use 4. A window can be move to tag i via Mod-Shift-i, i.e. with
       the move command.


       The notion of a monitor in herbstluftwm is treated much more abstract
       and general than in other window managers: A monitor just is a
       rectangular part of your screen which shows exactly one tag on it.

       Initially there is only one large monitor ranging over your entire

           $ herbstclient list_monitors
           0: 1440x900+0+0 with tag "1" [FOCUS]

       The output shows that there is only one monitor with index 0 at
       position +0+0 of size 1440x900 showing tag 1. In most cases, the
       herbstluftwm monitors will match the list of physical monitors. So to
       add another physical monitor, you have to perform several steps:

        1. Enable it, such that it shows a part of your screen. You can use
           xrandr, xinerama or any other tool you like.

        2. Register it in herbstluftwm: Lets assume your new monitor has the
           resolution 1024x768 and is right of your main screen, then you can
           activate it via:

               $ herbstclient set_monitors 1440x900+0+0 1024x768+1440+0

           Alternatively, if xinerama works for your setup, simply run:

               $ herbstclient detect_monitors

       For even more automation, you can enable the setting
       auto_detect_monitors. For more advanced examples, look at the example script, which implements a drop-down-terminal
       like monitor where you can put any application you like.

  herbstluftwm 0.6.2              2014-04-26            HERBSTLUFTWM-TUTORI(7)

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