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i3 is a manual tiling window manager which places client into containers. Containers can be stacked (like wmii) or tabbed (like ion3). i3 also supports floating windows.

From the website:
"i3 is a tiling window manager, completely written from scratch.
i3 was created because wmii, the author's favorite window manager at the time, didn’t provide some features they wanted (Xinerama done right, for example), had some bugs, didn’t progress since quite some time and wasn’t easy to hack at all (source code comments/documentation completely lacking). Still, we think the wmii developers and contributors did a great job. Thank you for inspiring us to create i3.
Please be aware that i3 is primarily targeted at advanced users and developers. "


i3 is not yet in any of the repositories, so head over to the AUR to install either the latest stable or git version. Then edit your ~/.xinitrc and add:

exec i3

Note: Currently, the i3 developers are adding a new parser for the configuration. It is suggested to use this new parser to use some newer features. It will become the default by version 3.e. Until version 3.e, to use the new parser instead, add this line to ~/.xinitrc:

exec i3 -l


i3 is configured using a simple text file. It first looks for ~/.i3/config and if it doesn't exist, reads the default config at /etc/i3/config. So to start customizing, copy the config file to your home directory:

cp /etc/i3/config ~/.i3/config

The config allows you to change such things as:

  • Set border colors
  • Set a font
  • Configure keybindings
  • Set workspace names
  • Set a default container layout
  • Assign apps to specific workspaces

The i3 User's Guide gives a nice overview of the config settings.

Status Bar

dzen2 can be placed in the information bar at the bottom of the screen. Information for dzen2 can be generated using i3status or conky.

i3status | dzen2 &


conky | dzen2 &

Other Tools

  • i3 currently uses dmenu as a launcher (by default, bound to Mod1+v)
  • i3lock - A modification of slock