StumpWM on Debian Wheezy

July 20, 2013

Everyone that’s ever talked to me about software development knows that I am in love with Emacs. Emacs has a wonderful keyboard driven interface and is almost infinitely customizable via Emacs Lisp. I’ve done a lot of programming in Emacs from my not-so-great laptop lately. My laptop has a rather poor 1280x800 resolution and low performing integrated graphics chip. Until today, I was running the GNOME 3 desktop environment on it. Unlike most people (or perhaps just a loud minority), I like GNOME 3. However, I wanted something that was both less graphics intensive and more keyboard driven than GNOME Shell and Mutter.

Someone on IRC told me about StumpWM, a window manager written entirely in Common Lisp. I had heard of StumpWM before, but back then I wasn’t an Emacs user and I’ve never really stuck with any tiling window manager that I’ve tried (DWM, Awesome). Now that I know the power of a fully programmable environment thanks to Emacs, I decided to give StumpWM a try. After some initial pains trying to get it to run, I am now using it very happily.

Here is what I had to do to get StumpWM running on Debian Wheezy.

  1. Install StumpWM
sudo apt-get install stumpwm
  1. Create an .xinitrc file in my home directory with the following text
exec stumpwm
  1. Workaround clisp “component not found” errors

I could not get StumpWM to start until I created the following symbolic links:

ln -s /usr/share/common-lisp/source/stumpwm/stumpwm.asd /usr/share/common-lisp/systems/stumpwm.asd
ln -s /usr/share/common-lisp/source/cl-ppcre/cl-ppcre.asd /usr/share/common-lisp/systems/cl-ppcre.asd
  1. Start the X server

I use the GNOME Desktop Manager, so I also created a session file for StumpWM in /usr/share/xsessions/stumpwm.desktop.

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=This session logs you into StumpWM

I hope this brief installation guide can be of use to one of you out there in Internet land. Perhaps in the future I will write an article about customizing StumpWM with Common Lisp.