i3 is also an easy WM for beginner. It doesn’t have need complex configuration. You can just install it, and use it, the tiling rule is simple. Except that it start with intimidating black screen, so you have to read the manual to learn the keystrokes. But once you get along with i3, i3 is actually a very comfortable Tiling Window Manager.


Guidance in The Fine Manual is enough.

i3 Install Summary Screenshot

Install i3 WM

Installing i3 will also install three packages, it is i3-wm, i3lock and i3status. You can issue either one of this.

$ sudo pacman -S i3
$ sudo pacman -S i3-wm i3lock i3status 

Install i3 (i3-wm i3lock i3status )

i3status use confuse library. It will be installed automatically.

Running i3 WM

To switch to i3 WM after installation completed, you can logout your current DE/WM (Desktop Environment or Window Manager). In your DM (Display Manager), login with i3 WM Session.

If you need to make sure, that i3 is in you DM list. You can check xsession directory.

$ ls /usr/share/xsessions/
awesome.desktop        gnome.desktop  plasma.desktop
enlightenment.desktop  hidden         xfce.desktop
gnome-classic.desktop  i3.desktop     xmonad.desktop

On first run, i3-config-wizard will create ~/.config/i3/config.

Install i3 Blocks

There is an i3blocks tool to help you getting pretty i3statusbar. It is a useful additional package.

i3blocks is available in AUR (Arch User Repository). In order to install i3, you must use AUR Helper, e.g. yaourt, aura, packer, pacaur, or else.

$ pacaur -y i3blocks


$ yaourt -S i3blocks

Install AUR i3-blocks

Install i3 Gaps

There is an Unofficial Fork of i3 from AirBlader. The most interesting feature is Gaps between window.

i3-gaps is available in AUR (Arch User Repository). In order to install i3, you must use AUR Helper, e.g. yaourt, aura, packer, pacaur, or else.

Since it is an i3 fork, you can’t have both installed. This command will install i3-gaps, and also uninstall i3-wm.

$ pacaur -y i3-gaps


$ yaourt -S i3-gaps

Install AUR i3-gaps

To go back from i3-gaps, install i3-wm.

$ sudo pacman -S i3-wm 

Sample Configuration

If the default config is not suitable enough, you can customize the config for your needs. I prefer to put my i3status and i3blocks inside my i3 config directory, and create my custom config later from copy of the default one.

$ cat ~/.config/i3/config

$ mkdir ~/.config/i3/i3status
$ cp /etc/i3status.conf ~/.config/i3/i3status/default.conf

$ mkdir ~/.config/i3/i3blocks
$ cp /etc/i3blocks.conf ~/.config/i3/i3blocks/default.conf

i3status with Conky

To enable, of course you have to install conky. The lua package is needed as a mandatory dependency for conky since v1.10. Since Conky is optional. It is beyond this scope to explain conky installation in detail.

$ sudo pacman -S lua conky

Modularized i3status Configuration

Although i3 config is very simple, however i3status using conky-lua-json is complex.

My configuration dotfiles is here. You can copy for your own needs.

Since this configuration is already modularized, it is easier to learn part by part.

Additional Package

For your convenience, you can choose to install either dmenu or rofi. Both provide the same purpose to run command, except rofi has more feature.

$ sudo pacman -S dmenu
$ sudo pacman -S rofi

i3-gaps: Conky Lua in dark i3status

Source Code

Window Manager


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