From AwesomeWM to i3wm

I’ve decided to reinstall the GNU/Linux system on my old X220 ThinkPad and in 2018 finally move on from UbuntuStudio 14.04 (Trusty). In the process of also trying out new Lubuntu (which I didn’t like for some quite aesthetic reason and retried with Xubuntu – much better!) I also decided to finally try i3 window manager. So I wanted to quickly layout just some of the differences, that are quite subjective.


  • windows grouped in a container with tabs
  • minimalist configuration
  • beautiful status/widgets bar
  • hiding screen-edge window borders
  • windows are actually fully using all pixels of the screen


  • I keep hitting (awesomeWM) shortcut to maximize a window. There’s no maximise window in i3.
  • when there’s a floating window in otherwise tiled workspace, I cannot ‘hide’ that floating one
  • cannot switch away from fullscreen window within a workspace (to a window otherwise behind that window
  • There’s no minimize functionality
  • snap to screen-edge or other windows in floating mode

(I might update some of the points above in the next few days, as I become aware of what the muscle memory is telling me)

So I think there are number of limitations in i3wm – at least for somebody coming from AwesomeWM, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So these above are a moving target. I’m sure they will change as I will get used to features and non-features.


Huge thanks to Adhi Pambudi for sharing his setup as i3-starterpack!


i3wm, configuration in Emacs, URxvt

update #1

In order to use xbacklight to change brightness of your screen, you need to add

into your xorg.conf.

Since by default there’s no xorg.conf on ubuntu, instead of creating one, I went this way: in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ folder I created a file called intel_backlight.conf and into it put the following:

Now, to use the Fn keys for brightness (on Home/End keys), into ~/.config/i3/config you put

Processing and Awesome WM

Processing is a Java application and has had troubles in my Awesome setup for a while now in various ways. With some early versions (2.x) the main IDE window didn’t want to redraw following a resize. Now with new IDE in 3.x series this problem is gone, but now the main output window thinks it has a window decoration and is offset in a very ugly way, showing a wide grey bar at the bottom and slighly less wide one on the right (lack of top window decoration and a scrollbar probably.

These problems can be solved with a program called wmname before starting a java application.

You can find it in the ‘suckless-tools’ package on Ubuntu/Debian.

It seems this needs to be run only once in one of the terminals and it then works accross any subsequent commands in the current session. Probably not stupid to put it in ~/.config/awesome/rc.lua?