i3 window manager

After having used DWM, then WMFS, let’s give a chance to i3 WM, another tiling window manager, still actively maintained and quite easy to use and customize. 

Install i3

First of all let’s install i3, its statusbar, lock screen, program launcher and wallpaper manager:

$ sudo apt-get i3 i3status i3lock suckless-tools nitrogen

Prepare your i3 configuration file:

$ cp /etc/i3status.conf ~/.i3/i3status.conf
$ vim ~/.i3/config

This config file will allow you to customize every bit of your i3 environment, appearance as shortcuts.

Customize font

You may use XFT or TTF fonts. In this example will use a square pixel XFT font named Artwiz Snap. You’ll find XFT fonts from repo or the Artwiz one through this link.

$ sudo apt-get install xfonts-*
$ fc-cache -f -v
$ xfontsel #choose and select xfonts

You’ll have a code line similar to this one:


Startup programs

You may launch any startup applications through the config file: graphic daemon, wallpaper manager and such. Just add an ‘exec’ line.

# Startup programs:
exec --no-startup-id cinnamon-settings-daemon #or gnome-...
exec --no-startup-id nitrogen --restore
exec --no-startup-id conky
exec --no-startup-id urxvtd -q -o -f



Every shortcuts is customizable, modify or add at will, following the correct syntax:

# programs
bindsym $mod+Shift+w exec uzbl-browser
bindsym $mod+Shift+f exec thunar

You’ll find in the i3 documentation page everything you need to know on shortcuts and keyboard navigation.

To customize dmenu, add the usual options:

dmenu_run -b -fn "-artwiz-snap-*-*-*-*-10-*-*-*-*-*-*-*" -p "Program :" -nb '#2D2D2D' -nf '#ffffff' -sf '#000000' -sb '#00A7FC'


Copy the .i3status.conf to your ~/.i3/ folder for convenience then find and modify the statusline bar section in your config file:

bar {
     status_command i3status --config ~/.i3/i3status.conf
     position bottom

Modify the i3statut.conf file to add or remove elements from the statusline.

 Lock screen

Once i3lock installed you may want to use a simple lock screen shortcut, as this one:

bindsym $mod+x i3lock --image=/home/user/Pictures/lock.png && echo mem > /sys/power/state

Theming i3

I recommend using a small script to easily theme i3, available on Github, j4-make-config:

The purpose of this script for the i3 windowmanager is to easily switch between several sets of configuration options (“themes”), but also to easily put together a complete config from several different configuration parts, depending on the environment you are currently working in.

Download the folder:

  • copy the j4-make-config to your ~/bin/ folder (or somewhere in your $path)
  • copy the themes/ folder to your .i3/ folder
  • Edit your .i3/config file and insert this line at the end : # $i3-theme-window
  • Open a terminal and execute: $ j4-make-config solarized

Choose your theme among the pre-configured ones, or create your own.




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