i3wm in xfce

April 20, 2019


i recently saw chunk tiling wm for osx pass thru hackernews. how unfortunate that i had never heard of this type of deeply nerdy, highly pragmatic tool.

xubuntu has long been my preferred o/s, so i did some research and found that the most popular compatible tiling wm appeared to be i3.

i3's docs are awesome. thorough, complete, and in ascending in complexity. i was eager to try.


i executed the following steps:

  • followed feeble nerd's guide to installing i3 on xfce
    • the guide is old, but still highly accurate
  • added i3-gaps [1,2]
    • i had to compile this from source, which was no issue. there are no prebuilt debian packages for gaps ready to roll in any ubuntu/debian ppa's
    • the wiki also has a default configuration, but it's missing default values for inner & outer gaps between windows
  • disabled the colemak keymapping variant
    • there is a keymapping option to just make the things work if you're a colemak user. dont use it--it only sorta kinda partially works. reconfigure your mappings one-by-one, or, use keycodes like the docs suggest!

that was all! the formal i3 documentation is a must read for users as well. you can see my config here.


  • the tiling aspect of the wm is surprisingly easy to use
  • the tiling aspect of the wm is surprisingly fun to use
  • tuning xfce to integrate well with i3 wasn't difficult, but involves a non-trivial amount tweaks and complexity
    • in retrospect, this is likely the case anytime one swaps the wm on a system

now that i understand why tiling-wm fanboys are such admirers of tiling, i'm eager to adopt chunk on my work osx machine. i don't often recommend complicated system changes to people if they are comfortable with their workflow, but this was worth it, and i do recommend trying it. i look forward to greater productivity and organization by committing myself to this tooling.