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Fix Java GUI applications in xmonad

If you ever try to run a GUI Java application when using xmonad as the Window Manager, you’ll probably end up with a nice flat grey window where your buttons, toolbars and other desktop GUI goodies should be. I ran into that problem the other day when trying to evaluate the RubyMine Ruby on Rails IDE from which I heard such good things. After a rather painful installation of the official Java 6 JDK from Oracle in Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (which I’ll write about in some other time), I managed to start up RubyMine just to find out I was seeing absolutely nothing on the screen.

I Googled a bit and essentially I found out that the problem was with the Java GUI Toolkit rather than RubyMine, because the framework relies on a list of window managers to handle some things, and xmonad is not in that list.

So since I was not using OpenJDK, I opted for the setWMName option and added this final line into my xmonad.hs file:

    xmonad $ defaultConfig
      { terminal            = myTerminal
      , workspaces          = myWorkspaces
      , keys                = keys'
      , modMask             = modMask'
      , layoutHook          = layoutHook'
      , manageHook          = manageHook'
      , logHook             = myLogHook dzenLeftBar >> fadeInactiveLogHook 0xdddddddd
      , normalBorderColor   = colorNormalBorder
      , focusedBorderColor  = colorFocusedBorder
      , borderWidth         = 2
      , startupHook         = setWMName "LG3D"
}

Setting the window manager name to LG3D will trick the Java GUI Toolkit and the application will be painted correctly.

Enjoy your Java applications with the power of xmonad!

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