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Développeur Python et adepte Linux depuis 2005, Core développeur Kivy, passionné par beaucoup trop de choses.
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Switching to i3wm

written by tshirtman, on 2/17/14 12:15 AM.

I’ve been a wmii user for more or less 5 years, and until now although it was not much maintained anymore, i was unable to replace it with something else.

Last time i checked, neither awesome, i3, xmonad, or either of the few tiling WMs i tried, seemed to fulfill my needs, i wanted dynamic tagging of workspace, full keyboard navigation, and the same tag on all screen in a multiscreen setup (more on that later). So, although it had a few bugs, i decided that wmii was still the best thing out there.

Recently, hobbestigrou suggested me having a look at qtile, being in python, it would be easy to script and adapt to my use case.

I did look into it yesterday, and spent some time configure it for my use. In the end, i had most things working, although i wasn’t crazy about the window placement capabilities, and using the doc hadn’t been a thrilling experience.
The last standing point however was, the separate tag management per screen, but, at that point i was ready to give that a chance, considering i often pinned a window to all workspaces on the second screen (but not all the time).
So i decided to give a second chance to i3wm, considering it’s the spiritual successor of wmii, i may be more excited at the window placements.

And while it took me some time to wrap my head about the tree system of i3 (the split shortcut (Meta4+v) turned out to be quite important), i have to admit it solves all the limitation of wmii’s one, while avoiding the limitations of layout systems of other tiling managers.

Now, i3 doesn’t expose a dynamic tagging system out of the box, but it offers a nice cli api, and i found a blog post offering a good explanation on how to use it, i adapted it to make it slightly faster, but the idea stands.

I’m still a bit confined by the inability to share tags across screens, i gave myself a way to move a window/container from one screen, but it’s still a bit different. I won’t try to force i3 to see only one screen, as i did on my first try, because that caused all sorts of swampy issues, and it’s clearly not the way it’s meant to be used.

Other than that, it’s pleasing to see all the nice improvement of the window manager over its ancestor, it’s certainly way more pleasing to look at, and to configure.

Anyway, my configuration is now on github, for my own profit (easier to setup on multiple machines), and for the curiosity of others :).


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