i3 - improved tiling WM


Do What I Mean. Good Docs. Clean Code. Sounds good?

Then you will love i3. Watch the screencast,
read the User’s Guide and install i3!

i3 is a tiling window manager, completely written from scratch. The target platforms are GNU/Linux and BSD operating systems, our code is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) under the BSD license. i3 is primarily targeted at advanced users and developers. Based upon the experiences we made when wanting to hack/fix wmii, we agreed upon the following goals for i3:

  1. Write well readable, well documented code. Create additional documentation on how to extend i3 by explaining its internal workings.
    This includes being modifiable by people who do know how to program but who are not necessarily familiar with all of X11’s internals. That is, document why things happen and when they happen so that the user gets a picture of the whole process a Window Manager is responsible of by just reading the source code.
  2. Use xcb as far as possible (it does not provide functions for some features yet, like XKB) instead of Xlib. xcb has a much cleaner API and should be faster in quite a lot of situations.
  3. Implement multi-monitor correctly, that is by assigning each workspace to a virtual screen. Especially make sure that attaching and detaching new monitors like video projectors works during operation and does the right thing. Also provide support for rotated monitors.
  4. Use a tree as data structure. This allows for more flexible layouts than the column-based approach used by other window managers.
  5. Implement different modes, like in vim. You can use different keybindings when in the 'resize' mode than when you are in the default mode, for example.
  6. Do not use programs such as autoconf/automake for configuration and creating unreadable/broken makefiles. Instead, use a clean makefile which automatically enables/disables features for specific platforms. Also, document the dependencies properly, so that package maintainers have an easy job packaging i3.
  7. Implement an IPC interface for other programs. Provide subscription to certain events and accept commands.
    This approach should be more lightweight than wmii’s usage of the 9P filesystem. Furthermore, core functionality does not depend on a separate program, so that i3 runs faster, especially when your system is under load.
  8. Be UTF-8 clean.
  9. The usual elitism amongst minimal window managers: Don’t be bloated, don’t be fancy (simple borders are the most decoration we want to have).
    However, we do not enforce unnecessary limits such as a maximum amount of source lines of code. If it needs to be a bit bigger, it will be.