How to install the i3 window manager on Ubuntu 20.04 or Debian 11

i3 is a tile window manager Developed from scratch and written in C. It is under a BSD license, is primarily aimed at professionals and programmers and has a few special features. This slim window manager also supports window stacks, which it stacks in a tab structure similar to a web browser. Here we will learn how to install the i3 Window Manager on Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04 LTS to get a sleek and light interface on that Linux.

Well, Linux operating systems are known for their low resource consumption, but with the latest highly graphic desktops, many distributions are now becoming large-scale resource-hungry operating systems. Even so, there are many lightweight desktop window managers out there, and i3 is one of them. This Tiling Window Manager i3 brings a particularly slim interface to your Linux screen.

In addition, i3 can be easily used even when using multiple monitors while you get the most out of your system. Virtual desktop surfaces are also available, but the number of these does not have to be specified as is the case with other window managers.

A new work area can be opened at any time at the push of a button; but if there are no more windows open and you switch to another virtual desktop, i3 deactivates them again. This keeps the number of open virtual workspaces manageable, which saves system resources. As a window manager for Unix-like operating systems, i3 is in direct competition with countless other window managers.

Steps to install i3 window manager on Ubuntu 20.04 or Debian

The steps below to set up i3 Window Manager can be used on any Debian or Ubuntu based system like Elementary OS, MX Linux, Linux Mint and others.

Update system

Run the System Update command to install the latest available versions of system and app packages. including updating the repository cache.

sudo apt update

Install the i3 Window Manager on Ubuntu or Debian

The packages we need to set up i3 are already available through Ubuntu’s standard base repository. So just run the given single command and you are done.

sudo apt install i3

Switch to the i3 window manager

After the installation is complete, log out of your current session, whether it’s Ubuntu 20.04, Debian, or any other. After that, click your Username to log in, but first click on “corridor“Symbol. And select”i3“.

Choose i3 Windows Manager

Set i3 configuration file

The first screen you see may not seem very interactive to users who like tall graphical desktops. However, for those who want to try i3, a text-based option will be presented to generate a configuration for i3 after logging in. By default, all you have to do is press the button Enter key and the file will be saved in your home directory ~/.config/i3/config.

This file is located under /etc/i3/config You can manually copy it later if you want.

Set i3 configuration

Select the modifier key

Next, you’ll be given an option to select the default modifier button, also known as $mod Use button to change apps and other settings in i3. There are two buttons for selection and as standard buttons: Win and Old Key. The default is Win key is selected to go with, just press the Enter Key. Alternatively, you can choose Alt key, if you want.

Set the default modifier

How to use the i3 window manager in Ubuntu or Debian Linux

There isn’t much to do after the above steps. All core settings have been made, now we can use i3 desktop on our Ubuntu or Debian.

The only thing that is displayed on the i3 tile manager is a small strip with various system information such as battery, storage space, IP address and more …

i3 tiling manager system tray with system metrics

Start applications

Now how to open applications and other settings in the i3 tile manager. Well this can be done with a keyboard key in combination with a. take place mod Key that we set when setting this window manager. For example, you have the modifier key on. set Win Then key to open the command terminal on the i3, the shortcut will win + enter Key.

Start the command terminal on the i3 window manager

Link to search for applications

Well if you want to launch another application installed on your Ubuntu or Debian systems. Then open the seek Bar to start various programs.

win + d

A bar will appear on the above of Desktop On the screen, enter the application you want to search Search box, and press the Enter Key.

Search for applications in the i3 Window Manager

Disconnect apps

Well, you can’t move full screen apps once you open them in i3 tilling manager. However, if you want to tile the multiple apps to move with a mouse pointer, use the following shortcut:


Tiling i3 manager apps on Ubuntu

Enter a full screen mode

If you haven’t maximized the size of app windows using the keyboard shortcut above and want to maximize the apps again or use them in full screen mode, use this keyboard shortcut. Using the same thing will also revert the maximized window to the non-maximized one.

win + f

Close open application

You won’t have any close (x) Button on the applications that run on the i3 Window Manager, there is also a link for this:

win + Shift + q

Update i3

To update or restart the i3 manager:

win + Shift + r

Exit the i3 Windows Manager

Win key + Shift + e

The functional concept of i3 corresponds to a tree structure, the individual nodes of which the window manager treats as containers.

Starting from the X11 root window, which as the primary container forms the background for all other levels, the following hierarchies branch out to the X11 window container, which represents a single window as the end point.

The containers represent a wide variety of functions: They can consist of an empty workspace or a workspace with only one open window and contain several application windows as a divided container. The layout of the tree is therefore not static, but changes constantly.

Learn more about i3 keyboard shortcuts or cheat sheets from the official documentation.

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