Install Xmonad on Debian Lenny

 24 Feb 2009


I want to install a newer version of Xmonad than packaged with Debian Lenny on my Lenny systems in the cleanest way possible. I tried a bunch of things today and it turned out that the solution is really simple.

It turns out that the Haskell cabal-install program solved all of my problems:

  1. It can install it's packages into my home directory. Binaries in ~/.cabal/bin and all libraries needed.
  2. These libraries take precedence over system installed ghc libraries.
  3. No non-stable packages are needed at all.
  4. Installs the most recent versions of xmonad, xmonad-contrib and xmobar and any libraries they need.
  5. Cabal-install itself builds with the version of ghc in Debian Lenny (this wasn't the case in previous releases and Ubuntu Hardy).

This procedure installs the newest released version of Xmonad in my home directory along with all required libraries, xmonad-contrib and xmobar. My steps I used are as follows (Please check versions for cabal-install so that the wget command is correct):

# First install ghc and the dev libraries that cabal-install needs

sudo aptitude install ghc libghc6-network-dev libghc6-mtl-dev zlib1g-dev

# Goto a temp dir and download cabal

cd ~/tmp


tar -xzvf cabal-install-0.6.2.tar.gz

cd cabal-install-0.6.2

# Now run the script (as your user)


# Make sure to add ~/.cabal/bin to your patch

# I do this via this next line in my .bashrc

export PATH="$HOME/.cabal/bin:$PATH"

# Some needed libraries to build Xmonad and Xmobar

sudo aptitude install libx11-dev libxft-dev

# Now we install xmonad!

cabal update

cabal install xmonad

cabal install xmonad-contrib

cabal install xmobar

I’m extremely happy with this setup. All of my non-packaged files are in my home directory safely away from my Debian Stable system. This is due to cabal install being able to seemlessly install into ~/.cabal which really does work great. I’m very excited for this tool to be included in ghc soon!