Having a good window manager will help in navigating windows quickly. You can accomplish this by having an i3 window manager. Below is how you can configure the i3 window manager in Ubuntu.


Use apt to install i3.

sudo apt install i3
select i3 during login
Select i3 at login

Logout and when logging back select i3 as the desktop environment. Follow the prompts for generating a config file ~/.config/i3/config choose yes and for selecting default modifier - Win/Alt key, select any one.

Key bindings

Below are some keybindings have given by default. Here mod can be either Win or Alt key.

Key shortcut Action
mod + enter To get default shell
mod + d To activate dmenu
mod + j To focus left window
mod + k To focus down window
mod + l To focus up window
mod + ; To focus right window
mod + shift + j To move window to left
mod + shift + k To move window to down
mod + shift + l To move window up
mod + shift + ; To move window down
mod + h Change split orientation to horizontal
mod + v Change split orientation to vertical
mod + f Full screen toggle
mod + shift + space Floating toggle
mod + shift + q To kill focused window
mod + (0-9) switching workspaces

Configuring i3


Download your favorite font and copy the font to /usr/share/fonts or ~/.fonts. Then in ~/.config/i3/config set the font like below.

font pango:MesloLGSDZ Nerd Font 10

Note: You can find the exact font name using fc-list | grep -i font-name


To setting Wallpaper, you need to install feh.

sudo apt install feh

You can download any wallpaper (rename to wallpaper.jpg) and copy it to ~/.config/i3/. Then in your i3 configuration, have the below line.

exec_always feh --bg-scale wallpaper.jpg

You can put a full path to the downloaded image.

Workspace icons

You can install Font Awesome fonts and go to fontawesome.com, search for the icon, copy Unicode Glyph and paste it next to workspace numbers.


You can change the focused and unfocused window colors like below.

set $bg-color 	         #2f343f
set $inactive-bg-color   #2f343f
set $text-color          #f3f4f5
set $inactive-text-color #676E7D
set $urgent-bg-color     #E53935

# window colors
#                       border              background         text                 indicator
client.focused          $bg-color           $bg-color          $text-color          #00ff00
client.unfocused        $inactive-bg-color $inactive-bg-color $inactive-text-color #00ff00
client.focused_inactive $inactive-bg-color $inactive-bg-color $inactive-text-color #00ff00
client.urgent           $urgent-bg-color    $urgent-bg-color   $text-color          #00ff00


i3 blocks preview
i3 blocks preview

For setting up i3 bar, you can use i3-blocks, first install i3-blocks.

sudo apt install i3-blocks

Then copy the default configuration from cp /etc/i3blocks.conf ~/.config/i3 Open ~/.config/i3blocks.conf, you can enable or disable the indicator as needed. You can use Font Awesome icons to display labels instead of text.


And in the i3 configuration, use i3-blocks to apply bar configuration.

bar {
        status_command i3blocks -c ~/.config/i3/i3blocks.conf
        position top
        font pango:Font Awesome 5 Free Solid, MesloLGSDZ Nerd Font Mono 12
        colors {
                background $bg-color
                separator #757575
                #                  border             background         text
                focused_workspace  $bg-color          $bg-color          $text-color
                inactive_workspace $inactive-bg-color $inactive-bg-color $inactive-text-color
                urgent_workspace   $urgent-bg-color   $urgent-bg-color   $text-color


To have gaps between new windows, you can install i3-gaps

sudo apt install i3-gaps

Now in ~/.config/i3/config, you can add the below lines.

# i3-gaps  you need to install i3-gaps
gaps inner 5 
gaps outer 5

# Only enable gaps on a workspace when there is at least one container
smart_gaps on

You can change the settings on how much space you want between windows.


Monitor Configuration using arandr
Monitor configuration usign arandr

For setting up monitors, you can use an application like arandr

sudo apt install arandr

In dmenu, select arandr, and choose your monitor settings. Once done, save the configuration to some file, copy the file’s contents, and paste it into the i3 configuration file.

exec_always xrandr --output eDP-1 --off --output DP-1 --off --output HDMI-1 --off --output HDMI-2 --primary --mode 2560x1440 --pos 1920x0 --rotate normal


To have opacity and fade effects, you can use an application like compton

sudo apt install compton

Make Compton start when i3 is being loaded.

# Compton
exec_always --no-startup-id pkill compton; compton

You can get base configuration from /usr/share/doc/compton/examples/compton.conf copy that to ~/.config/compton/compton.conf Refer to my compton.conf.


To change the QTK Appearance, you can use lxappearance

sudo apt install lxappearance

Now you can install any theme you like.

sudo apt install arc-theme

In the terminal, type lxappearance to open lxappearance, and now you can select the theme and apply like below.

Changing theme using
Changing theme using lxappearance


Above is how you can configure the i3 window manager in Ubuntu. For complete configuration please refer my dotfiles. – RC