Skip to content
How to install i3 on Linux Mint 17.3
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
LICENSE Automatic Backup @ Thu Dec 31 13:32:17 CET 2015 Dec 31, 2015

Installing i3 wm on Linux Mint 17.3 cinnamon

We start from an up-to-date Linux Mint 17.3 cinnamon as described on


#Installation procedure

First install Linux Mint 17.3 like you always would.

Then update.

Download and use proprietary drivers if needed. Broadcom, nvidia, ati and the likes.

Upgrade your kernel if you want to.

Get that out of the way.

Do get the code from github. Install git first

sudo apt-get install git


git clone

This folder your are downloading is my content of the hidden .i3 directory, where all files will reside.

Step 0

You can copy/paste all of this in the hidden folder of .i3.

You can make a hidden folder in your home folder, if you do not yet have one.

beware the hidden files !! Copy/paste all files (CTRL + H)

Step 1

Go inside the folder installation/Step_1

Run the script with the highest version number.

You will install:

  • i3 basic system
  • menu to start programs
  • screenfetch to display general info of your computer
  • variety for wallpapers
  • terminator for terminal - more tweakable
  • unclutter to get the mouse out of the way
  • zsh - shell with lots of colours and themes
  • gimp already installed
  • inkscape - vector drawing
  • firefox - already installed
  • adobe-flashplugin
  • transmission-gtk - for conky aurora
  • skype
  • hexchat already installed
  • vlc already installed
  • geary - mail client
  • lxappearance - choose icons and themes
  • nitrogen - wallpaper
  • feh - wallpapers
  • qt4-qtconfig - choose icons and themes for qt4
  • scrot - caputure picture
  • git for github
  • htop - analysis processes
  • wget - getting files of internet
  • curl - getting files of internet
  • sensord - read out heat and other sensors
  • sysstat - system statistics
  • glances - analysis processes
  • numlockx - num lock on or off
  • inxi - hardware info
  • dmidecode - information for conky aurora
  • hddtemp - harddisk temperature for conky aurora
  • net-tools - network tools
  • mlocate - find stuff on your computer anywhere
  • hardinfo - graphical way to see all hardware components
  • unetbootin - make bootable usb
  • extlinux
  • vnstat - statistics for network consumption
  • screenfetch - hardware info
  • kazam - already installed - making movies
  • install thunar if you like to batch rename files
  • catfish - graphical way to search everything
  • gnome-disk-utility - already installed

Do not yet log off and log on into i3. Or you will see some errors.

Step 2

Installation of an alternative to the i3 status bar

Go inside the folder installation/Step_2/i3blocks Start in a terminal

Awesome Font

Go inside the folder installation/Step_2/font Install also the font since one of the "letters" is used to make the bottom bar nicer. Double-click the font and install in linux mint.

Making menu bigger and as such better readable

Go inside the folder installation/Step_2/dmenu larger font Read the document and do these steps in a terminal.

Installing a less cluttered menu

Go inside the folder installation/Step_2/j4_dmenu_desktop Run This will provide with a better menu selection. Activated with WIN + SHIFT + D - called Linux Mint Desktop (Normal menu is WIN + D - called Linux Mint All Programs)

Fix for Nemo or file manager of Linux Mint

If working with NEMO as file manager you will need to copy paste this line in a terminal or you will open a desktop together with nemo.

gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons false

Change the looks

use lxappearance and qtconfig-qt4 to change icons, themes etc ... Restart programs to see the changes.

Making sure variety works

We have to change some of the settings in the files.

Go the file


Change the code

# i3-wm/Feh. Use Feh only for i3, as it may cause problems with Nautilus, (see bug
if [ "$XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP" == "i3" ]; then
		feh --bg-fill "$WP" 2> /dev/null


# i3-wm/Feh. Use Feh only for i3, as it may cause problems with Nautilus, (see bug
if [ "$XDG_SESSION_DESKTOP" == "i3" ]; then
		feh --bg-fill "$WP" 2> /dev/null

Check out the youtube movie if need be at


You can set your wallpaper with nitrogen also if variety does not prove to work.

Shortcuts to remember

You can set your mod key. I have set mine to the Windows Key

This is windows key set $mod Mod4

Mod4 + E = to exit i3 and log back on with Cinnamon Mod4 + D = dmenu Mod4 + SHIFT + D = j4_dmenu Mod4 + Enter = terminal Mod4 + SHIFT + Q = end current program

Remember the 10 possible screens in the bottom-left corner. I have positioned some programs on some specific desktops.

Assign section assign [class="Firefox"] → 1

assign [class="sublime-text"] → 2

assign [class="sublime_text"] → 2

assign [class="Sublime_text"] → 2

assign [class="Thunar"] → 8

assign [class="Nemo"] → 8

assign [class="Geary"] → 9

assign [class="Spotify"] → 10

Mod4 + SHIFT + R = reset or rerun i3 if you change some code in the config file

Start up programs with ALT + CTRL + ...

mod1 = ALT

bindsym control+mod1+f exec firefox

bindsym control+mod1+g exec geary

bindsym control+mod1+s exec spotify

bindsym control+mod1+t exec subl

bindsym control+mod1+b exec nemo --no-desktop

bindsym control+mod1+c exec catfish

You can stop here and log off

Log in by clicking the wheel and choosing i3

Step 3

Optional I3 not from Ubuntu sources but from Github

1/1/2016 Ubuntu/Linux mint 17.3 is at version 4.7.2-1 Githubs version is 4.11 !!!

Some bugs have been fixed and extra features have been added.

Go inside the folder installation/Step_3/i3_upgraden_from_github Run

Step 4

Optional I3 next gap

I have learned of this 'spin-off' and I like the visual aspect of it and I still have enough room on my screens to do the work efficiently. You can read more on their github site.

Go inside the folder installation/Step_x/i3 with gaps

Working with two monitors

The program xrandr will show you how your monitors are named. In the config file you will need to change the code.

Uncomment the ones you need

set $firstMonitor DVI-I-1

set $secondMonitor DVI-I-2

Use this code in your config or terminal (only once) to tell the system which monitor goes on the left.

xrandr --output DVI-I-2 --right-of DVI-I-1 --auto


i3 with gaps






You can’t perform that action at this time.