i3wm is ‘something else’. It is not a desktop environment per se. It is an improved tiling manager. It tiles your applications over the screen. Complete windows, in halves etc or vertically and horizontally. It is IDEAL for dual or more screens and it helps if you have a higher resolution aka a big screen. AND it moves with me from Linux Mint to Solus to Ubuntu to Archlinux to Antergos… You get the picture. I have one config file that rules all these systems. A handful lines have to be changed due to differences between distro’s.
For me the power is that I can run i3 anywhere.
Every inch of your computer can be used if you so like to do so.
“No more waste of real-estate”
- low memory consumption
- does not have many dependencies hence stabler
- keyboard driven
- software will be tiled automatically into two, three, four regions
- terminal is a WIN+ENTER away
- every program can get its own workspace
- switching between workspaces is easy and very practical
- have a backup environment to work if somehow your other linux gets broken
- takes time getting used to
- shortcuts to be remembered
- specific software to do things
- some terminal knowledge required
Some screenshots to get you even more interested
As you can see you can decide to have gaps between the tiled applications. With the use of these gaps and transparent windows and terminal you can still enjoy a beautfull wallpaper.
A tutorial to guide you every step of the way
Installation of Antergos base
I will post a lot of links to the Arch wiki pages. Antergos is not Arch Linux but they share almost the same resources and the wiki is quite complete to figure out any technical issue that may arise.
We will not install a display manager. No mdm or gdm and the likes.
We assume you know how to install Antergos Base from the usb/dvd. I have selected all possible options in the installer but one
- apache (nginx) + Mariadb + PHP was not selected
I used the application mintstick on Linux Mint or Antergos/Arch to burn an iso to an usb.
This article will explain what you can do if you need to burn an iso on a usb.
More info about i3wm can be found here. I have read all the documents.
Getting the installation files
You are left with a black screen and a prompt when Antergos Base is installed.
Login with your password.
The idea is to download the i3 github files and start running the scripts, rather then typing the commmands by hand. In this manner you can build up your knowledge and perfect your scripts (and its fun to see it work). And next time you install Antergos I3 the installation will go even smoother.
Whenever you see text like this, you will have to do something in a terminal.
git clone https://github.com/erikdubois/Antergosi3.git
The content of this downloaded folder should be moved to a hidden folder in your home directory with the name ~/.config/i3.
ls (list files/directories - look around)
mv AntergosI3/ ~/.config/i3 (move)
cd ~/.config/i3 (change directory)
cd installation (here are all the scripts)
This installation folder contains all the scripts you will ever need for your i3wm.
We start the installation scripts of all the needed software via the terminal in the right order.
Go inside the installation folder and run minimum these scripts. You can run the others once we are in a graphical environment.
010-install-fastest-antergos-mirrors-vx.sh (Antergos servers - done during installation)
020-install-fastest-arch-mirrors-vx (if you want the fastest servers - done during installation)
030-install-xorg-vx.sh (graphical environment needs xserver)
040-install-packer-for-aur-make-build-v1 (packer is aur helper)
050-install-i3-core-vx.sh (installing i3 with gaps)
100-install-core-software-vx.sh (software from standard repositories)
200-install-extra-software-vx.sh (software from AUR)
300-install-themes-icons-cursors-conky-vx.sh (beautify your system)
400-install-software-distro-specific-vx.sh (specific software for i3wm)
500-install-samba-vx.sh (if you want to share folder on your home network)
600-install-personal-settings-vx.sh (necessary to be able to boot into i3 automatically)
700-firefox-for-dark-themes-settings-vx.sh (run this one after reboot - firefox must have run once)
Do not forget to type “./” in front of the name. Scripts will evolve over time and will differ from the tutorial. Use your common sense.
These scripts will point to some of the other scripts in the folder. So keep them together.
TIP: The scripts are build that way that you can rerun it and none of the already installed software will be re-installed. There is a well known issue with pasystray.
TIP: Sometimes github/sourceforge downloads can be very slow. Break off the script with CTRL+C and rerun it.
Some of the applications that will be installed are
There are other scripts for more applications. If needed, you can install them individually.
Setting i3 to autologin and autostart i3
I have automated this process in the script 600.
Read the script before executing.
It will also create folders if not present. You may want to delete some of those.
It will put all necessary files/commands in the right places (startx, xintrc,…)
600-install-personal-settings-vx.sh (necessary to be able to boot into i3 automatically)
You need to change the name in the file
to your own login name.
You are normally in the directory “installation”. Go inside the directory “settings”
Look for the name “erik” and change it to your login.
CTRL+X to save your file.
Because of these changes the $mod+shift+e will exit i3 but instantly log you back in. In essence it has become a relaunch i3 option and it is very fast.
Exiting i3wm is done via $mod+Pause/Break and choosing the letters in the bottom bar. ($mod is windows or super key) Shift+S is shutdown.
If you finished installing the scripts mentioned above then the magic can start.
These will be the workspaces welcoming you. Thanks to all the settings that have been copied, i3wm will already look quite polished. Ofcourse this is my setup on my hardware. Result will differ if you have only one monitor but also if you have a monitor that is named differently. That is covered in next point.
Single or Dual monitor
I3wm is ideal for dual or more screens.
In the config file of i3 I declared the names of my monitors.
You can find out your names with
Uncomment or comment these lines in the config file.
set $firstMonitor DVI-I-1
set $secondMonitor DVI-I-2
There is also a script included that might help. This is to tell the system which screen should be on the left and which one on the right.
This is the line I use on my monitors to tell which monitor should be to my left or to my right with this code.
xrandr --output DVI-I-2 --right-of DVI-I-1 --auto
More info can be found on the official website of i3wm.
I like the dark themes. But some of the websites (like youtube) give you unreadable inputboxes. After rebooting and starting firefox once (normally firefox is started on workspace 1), you can run script 700 to copy/paste the solution to the right place. By the way this is not an i3 problem. Any distro I have installed working with Arc themes has that problem. But it is an easy fix.
Script 600 will take care of that.
If you have transparent terminals and also if you use gaps in i3, it makes sense to have a wallpaper changer like variety.
If you want to know how I did it then here is the article.
More articles on Variety.
Change the theme
Changing themes should be done in i3wm with these two.
lxappearance and qtconfig-qt4.
It is good to know the files can be manually edited if you run in problems.
~/.gtkrc-2.0 (script 600)
~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini (script 600)
Install Arc Theme
Ofcourse you can install new themes. I like the Arc theme which I will use in the later screenshots.
I install the original blue Arc theme but also my personally created Arc themes (see Arc Colora folder).
install-gtk-arc-theme-git-vx.sh (script 300)
Select your theme with lxappearance.
Install your individual Arc Theme
You can change the blue accent colour from the Arc theme with these scripts to any colour you like :
Read here for more info on Arc Based Themes.
The contents of Arc Colora has been copied to your ~/.themes folder with script 600.
More info about Arc Colora.
Download the Sardi icons
You can install the sardi icons via these scripts but they have been already installed via script 300.
This icon theme can be downloaded at sourceforge.
You can also use
packer -S sardi-icons
pacaur -S sardi-icons
yaourt -S sardi-icons
Sardi is meant to be changed by the users. You can use scripts to change the hexadecimal colour code in about 3 seconds.
Start your reading about Sardi here.
Follow the collection on google+.
The most recent pictures can be found there.
Download the Sardi-extra icons
They have been downloaded in script 300.
There is also a collection of Sardi Extra icons at
These icons can be downloaded but will not be maintained. Nor are they part of the core icons of Sardi. They are the result of ideas and scripts that are included in Sardi icons.
More documentation on https://erikdubois.be/category/sardi-icons/