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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Goodbye wmii. Hello i3!

A colleague recently recommend i3 to me, and I thought it was a rather good idea considering the problems I've been having with wmii (weirdly complicated configuration syntax, and problems with AWT).


(Notice the dialog box is not rendered correctly on the bottom right)


The Swing problems are fixed in the HEAD of wmii's development branch, but I didn't notice that before I already committed to i3 (which is quite similar to wmii, but is less complicated to configure).

In the Debian/Ubuntu repositories, the latest version of i3 is 3.e (I think), but due to the configuration changes between 3 and 4, there may be some confusion about how to set up a status bar. The way to do it is to use i3status with the bar configuration directive with a 4.x+ release. You'll have to grab both i3wm and i3status from their respective repos and build the packages yourself. On Squeeze, apply this patch to i3 version 4.1 to make sure it builds correctly:

diff -rupN a/debian/control b/debian/control
--- a/debian/control    2011-11-11 14:40:38.000000000 -0800
+++ b/debian/control    2012-03-12 17:26:12.809273870 -0700
@@ -3,7 +3,7 @@ Section: utils
 Priority: extra
 Maintainer: Michael Stapelberg <>
 DM-Upload-Allowed: yes   
-Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7.0.50~), libx11-dev, libxcb-util0-dev (>= 0.3.8), libxcb-ke
ysyms1-dev, libxcb-xinerama0-dev (>= 1.1), libxcb-randr0-dev, libxcb-icccm4-dev, libxcurso
r-dev, asciidoc (>= 8.4.4), xmlto, docbook-xml, pkg-config, libev-dev, flex, bison, libyaj
l-dev, texlive-latex-base, texlive-latex-recommended, texlive-latex-extra, libpcre3-dev, l
ibstartup-notification0-dev (>= 0.10)
+Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7.0.50~), libx11-dev, libxcb-aux0-dev, libxcb-atom1-dev, lib
xcb-keysyms1-dev, libxcb-xinerama0-dev (>= 1.1), libxcb-randr0-dev, libxcb-icccm1-dev, lib
xcursor-dev, asciidoc (>= 8.4.4), xmlto, docbook-xml, pkg-config, libev-dev, flex, bison,
libyajl-dev, texlive-latex-base, texlive-latex-recommended, texlive-latex-extra, libpcre3-
dev, libstartup-notification0-dev (>= 0.10)
 Standards-Version: 3.9.2

You can apply this patch and build with:

cd i3-4.1
patch -p0 < /path/to/i3.patch
dpkg-buildpackage -uc -us

One other thing to note is that the i3status bar will not display correctly if there any errors; you also won't get any notification of errors if the font you specify is not correct (or missing).

Here is the result of switching to i3:

You can find my i3 configuration here.
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