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Unreliable focus retention #3710

spacekookie opened this issue Jun 3, 2019 · 3 comments


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commented Jun 3, 2019

I'm submitting a…

[x] Bug
[ ] Feature Request
[ ] Documentation Request
[ ] Other (Please describe in detail)


I've noticed this behaviour for the last few months and spent considerable time trying to automatically reproduce it (edit: see here). I'm not 100% sure it is an i3 bug, but can't prove reproducibly that it is not.

Unfortunately the behaviour of the bug is also very non-fatal, i.e. might go unnoticed unless using a very specific setup.

My setup consists of many named workspaces (often 20+) that I switch between. With some applications I keep noticing that focus doesn't move between workspaces (described below).

Current Behavior

Focus is not properly moved between windows when switching workspaces, depending on what the window is. Sometimes an old "instance" of an application remains focused, sometimes focus is just lost when switching to a different application (see how to reproduce)

Expected Behavior

Switching between workspaces should always move the focus and un-focus old windows no longer in view.

Reproduction Instructions

Open firefox on multiple workspaces. Switch between them and open tabs, browse around and do stuff. After a while, you'll notice that when switching workspace, focus is not moved from an old firefox instance. Tabs will be created or closed on a window that's not in view. Sometimes the address drop-down menu from a different window is displayed on the current workspace.

This also happens with libreoffice: when switching to a different workspace and then back the cursor disappears.

These effects can be undone by forcing a window to resize: opening a new terminal next to it in the container usually re-focuses the window correctly.

The option focus_follows_mouse yes|no has no effect on this


Output of i3 --moreversion 2>&-:

Binary i3 version:  4.16.1 (2019-01-27) © 2009 Michael Stapelberg and contributors
Running i3 version: 4.16.1 (2019-01-27) (pid 2978)abort…)
Loaded i3 config: /home/spacekookie/.config/i3/config (Last modified: Thu 01 Jan 1970 01:00:01 CET, 1559561865 seconds ago)

The i3 binary you just called: /nix/store/czmw8b91xl40nq87rkmn2p27vbww3qr7-i3-4.16.1/bin/i3
The i3 binary you are running: i3

This bug has also been reproduced on my system with version 4.16.0 and the current master (as of 2 days ago that is)

My config and appropriate scripts I use for dynamic named workspaces can be found here:

  • Linux Distribution & Version: Fedora 28 and NixOS unstable
  • Are you using a compositor: compton, although the issue persists without


I will try to capture some log output about this. Because it is rather non-deterministic, I have yet to capture anything interesting. But I'll keep trying.

@i3bot i3bot added the bug label Jun 3, 2019


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commented Jun 3, 2019

I don’t see a link to Did you follow (In case you actually provided a link to a logfile, please ignore me.)


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commented Jun 3, 2019

Just to be clear: i3 shows a certain firefox window as focused but the actual active firefox window (new/close tab) is elsewhere?

Don't know if this is related to


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commented Jun 3, 2019


Also the bug you linked me is something I've noticed as well. The fact that it also happens in other applications (such as libreoffice) makes me think it's probably not purely a firefox bug though

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