Become More Productive on Linux With i3 Tiling Window Manager – MUO – MakeUseOf

Want to save screen real estate while enhancing your productivity on Linux? Switch to a tiling window manager like i3 today.
If you've been using Linux for a while, you might have wondered about the sheer number of Linux distributions and desktop environments out there. The Linux kernel that powers all these distributions is modular and does not have a one-size-fits-all philosophy around it.
Traditionally, most Linux distributions come with a user-friendly desktop environment such as GNOME or XFCE at the cost of higher memory and CPU usage. But if you're a power user looking to be more productive with Linux, consider having a look at window managers like i3 instead.
A window manager or WM is system software that controls the placement and appearance of application windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface (GUI). It can be part of a desktop environment (DE) or be used standalone.
Related: How to Keep a Window Always on Top in Linux
This software determines the appearance of various aspects such as the border, title bar, size, and ability to resize windows. Window managers can be classified into three types based on their behavior:
Tiling window managers are powerful tools, but there are some things you should consider before making the switch from a fully-featured desktop environment that uses a stacking or floating window manager internally.
Here are some pros and cons that can help you make your decision accordingly:
Considering the pros and cons, if you're still interested in giving tiling window managers a try, you can start with the i3 window manager.
The good thing about installing a window manager is that you don't have to completely replace your desktop environment altogether. Instead of that, you can simply choose between them every time you log in.
To install i3 on your system, open up the terminal and run the following commands depending on the Linux distro you use.
On Debian, Ubuntu, and derivatives:
To install i3 WM on Arch-based distros:
Installing the window manager on Fedora and other RHEL-based distributions is easy as well.
Keep in mind that the commands given above will only install the core i3 window manager package. You will have to separately install other utilities such as application launchers and wallpaper setters as per your requirements.
And there you go. You're ready to start configuring the i3 tiling window manager. You can edit the configuration file located at ~/.config/i3/config or ~/.i3/config using an editor such as the Micro text editor. The next time you log in, you'll have an option to either use your old desktop environment or the i3 window manager.
Switching to a tiling window could be your first step as a Linux power user to make yourself more productive and in control of your operating system. Although the configuration process may seem tedious at first, the satisfaction of customizing everything just like you needed will be a worthy payoff.
However, if you're not ready to jump ship just yet and still need a good desktop environment for your everyday needs, here's a list of some desktop environments that might be perfect for you.
Nitin is an avid software developer and a computer engineering student developing web applications using JavaScript technologies. He works as a freelance web developer and likes to write for Linux and Programming in his free time.
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