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Analyzing i3 keyboard shortcuts

Filed under
GNU
Linux

Hello all! I am late with my blog posts, I know. One week I was too tired, the other I got sick, the other I drank and ate a little too much, the rest I was too busy. This however means I’ve had more weeks available at work to use the next environment in this series, i3, whose workflow is heavily-keyboard driven. Although it’s not a Desktop Environment, it deserves an analysis due to the mere fact it’s highly keyboard driven.

For those who aren’t acquainted with this series yet, I am in an endeavor to analyze keyboard shortcuts in most major DEs so that we, the KDE community, can decide on the best defaults for KDE Plasma. I have already taken a look at Cinnamon, MATE, XFCE and GNOME.

Preparations

This time I’ve added i3wm to my work computer, which has Kubuntu 19.04 with backports, and also tried Manjaro i3 briefly. The first was done as the previous times, for convenience; the latter was chosen simply because Manjaro ships a community edition with i3 by default, which caters to the significant Arch/Manjaro userbase of i3, but as it is a highly customized community edition of Manjaro, and thus includes about five times more keyboard shortcuts than default i3, I did not include most of its keyboard shortcuts here.

Since i3 is single-config-file-based and is hosted on github, it was easy to both check on how upstream suggests that keyboard shortcuts should be bound and keep track of keyboard shortcuts.

You may also see the default Manjaro i3 config file here if you’re curious about it. Manjaro does include several interesting QoL utilities such as i3exit and blurlock.

Despite that, this post will be considerably lengthy because, although upstream i3 has few shortcuts, several of them introduce complex concepts.

In addition, due to the nature of i3’s config file, this post is more complex and requires previous knowledge on Linux and perhaps coding before grasping how i3 works. It’s not that complicated, but it’s quite the paradigm shift compared to DEs.

Read more

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