A year with i3WM

A normal day at work :D

This post picks up from my earlier post about i3wm which was almost a year back.

I have been using i3wm for over a year now, and I can say that this is “the” desktop environment for me. In this post I will try to high light all the reasons why.

Its fast. Insanely fast.

i3wm doesn’t use any sort of 3D effects, so all of the commands execute instantly. You can reload the entire window manager in less than a second.

Vim-like keybindings

You can configure anything you want about i3wm, the keybindings match vim. Infact, with prolonged use the vim based key bindings have been imprinted in my muscle memory. Infact, you can use the vim based keybindings in chrome as well, vimium

The window focus follows your mouse cursor which after getting used to feels heavenly, no more clicking on windows to make them active, just hover over your mouse and start typing or scrolling!

Not a resource hog or a bloatware

Since the UI is so basic, the memory usage is almost none. Moreover i3 comes with no extra software, its a window manager and not a desktop environment. So there is no bloatware at all, you decide what you want to install on your software. i3 is strictly a wm so things like sound manager, network manager, terminal emulator, office, photo viewers, etc.

Say good bye to using mouse. Forever

With i3 you don’t need to deal with resizing windows, moving windows around or anything like that, instead, the idea is to use keyboard for creating any kind of desktop layout you want. Your hands won’t even move away from the homerow, and you will be able to do every thing that you can imagine.

Awesome multiple display support.

I have been using multiple display for a long time now, and after having experimented with Gnome, KDE, Unity, and Mate, I found i3 to be the best.

All the other desktop environments treated the other monitors as an extension of current work space, as if it was extra space.

Take gnome for example, the issue was the new monitor was just an extension of current work space. So, if you click on activities on anyone of the monitors, both screens go into the overview mode.

Whereas i3 takes a completely different approach to multiple monitors. Each monitor is not an extension of your current work space, instead it acts a container for completely different work spaces in it. Whatever you do in one work space won’t affect any other work space.

Switching between work spaces is instantaneous. $mod + workspace_number and that’s it. So most of the time you can have different work spaces dedicated to things like code, documentation, browsing, multimedia, etc.

Moreover, the integration between multiple monitors and the work spaces is seamless. With one key combination you can move your windows to other display, resize them, re arrange them, change layouts, you name it.

For managing various screen schema I rely on XRandr, which is part of XOrg. If you are using wayland this might help

Although the learning curve is steep for this window manager, its definitely worth the effort.

In the next post I will be talking about how to setup i3 as your only desktop manager and what different software you might require.

Original article here