I Love i3

I wanted to give i3 an honest try, I did and I love it.

The big difference between i3 and xmonad is absence of layout algorithms in i3. You manually arrange the windows. You can call these two different schools of thought in tiling window managers – automatic and manual arrangement of windows. The biggest advantage of manual arrangement is that you can divide the screen in columns and rows, and shift between them using direction keys instead of next or previous window. So no traversing through windows, just shifting to window. I am liking it.

There is more. Every column can have differnet mode of viewing windows – stacked, tabbed or the normal mode. i3 carries window title-bars to identify the windows when in stacked or tabbed mode. Every column can have a separate mode, which is like having multiple layout algorithms in the same screen. I usually go with one column for editor, the other column with log, debug windows, man pages using one of these modes. Or the browser in one and the editor in another. Whenever required, you can go for the full-screen mode for any window you want.

Then there is the brilliant i3-msg utility, using which you can execute commands from command-line. I am going to use them in shell scripts and try.

Otherwise i3 seems familiar to xmonad. It is equally configurable, has vim-style binding, has brilliant documentation and is really efficient in its operations. Although xmonad is more extensible in the sense of coming out with layouts, i3′s manual arrangement gives you a lot more freedom, and not having to choose a layout algorithm. I have used it dedicatedly for more than 2 months now, and I am thinking of keeping it for the long run.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Romain Gehrig said:

    Hi !

    I’m a satisfied user of ArchLinux with Awesome as WM. It’s the first time I come here but as little as I read you appear to like tiling WM. Have you tried Awesome in the past ? The main differences I see between it and i3 seem to be the stacked/tabbed modes for i3 and the named workspaces with automatic window distribution for Awesome (for example VLC is always opened in my Media workspace).

    I have to do a new Arch install and I’m wondering if I’ll stick to Awesome or give i3 a try. If you used Awesome in the past, do you see other cool features that may lack in Awesome ?

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Romain, nice to get comment from a fellow Archer :-) I used awesome for 2 months or so. I tried i3 to try the manual tiling, and it works really great because you get to manipulate position of a single window instead of the entire layout. Give it a try if you are looking for a change.

  3. Jeff Bauer said:

    Thanks for this information. I’ve also been using xmonad for about 3 years, but I’m always frustrated when attempting to customize my configuration. One thing I like about my current xmonad setup, however, is that it’s running nicely under xfce. Can i3 run similarly under xfce or other desktop environments?

  4. marc said:

    Wow I’ve never expected i3 to be that freaking cool! So far so good. I’m really enjoying its features, even though I’ve spent half of the night on setting it all [still it took less than OpenBox].

    Thx for an awesome [sic!] post.

    PS i3 is a cool compromise between simplicity and power. Unlike other tiling WMs it just doesn’t make things overally complicated. Why would you – for example – want to use programming language in config files? maddness …

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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