How to combine xfce desktop enviroment and i3wm


Good morning gnuaboos, I really like xfce, and I also really like i3, so i thought to my self, why not combine them? I mean, xfce is a DE, and i3 is a window manager, so it could work right?
If you said yes,




It works so well, i'm glad I did it, but what if you want to do it? where do you start?


Back up your files
you can seriously screw up your system if you mess up, I had to reinstall Manjaro twice after I messed up.

Next, you should install i3, obviously. You can do this by opening a terminal and entering:

sudo pacman -S i3

Enter your password when prompted, and hit enter when it asks you what i3 packages to install, it should install all as default.

Next, you should generate an i3 config, this can either be done by importing a preexisting config file to ~/.config/i3/ with the filename config. If you want to start with the default i3 config, just log out of your xfce session, and next to the power option in the bottom left corner, click that and change from xfce to i3.

Once in the i3 desktop, follow its instructions, then reboot and log into xfce.

Next, you'll need to install nitrogen:

sudo pacman -S nitrogen

Then, open nitrogen and configure it, choosing which directories to use for wallpaper choosing,
I'd recommend at least /usr/share/backgrounds/

Next, youll need to install xfce4-i3-workspaces-plugin-git
You can install it from the aur with your aur helper, I use trizen, so my syntax would be:

trizen -S xfce4-i3-workspaces-plugin-git

This program replaces xfce workspace plugin and allows you switch i3 workspaces using the xfce panel.

next, you'll have to remove all xfce keybinds, this can be obtained by going settings> Keyboard >shortcuts. Then remove all of the shortcuts, you'll use i3's shortcuts from now on.

Next you'll have to uninstall `xfdesktop' with this command:

sudo pacman -Rc xfdesktop

This wont remove the entire xfce desktop environment, so don't worry!

I know this seems long, but your almost there! once you uninstall xfdesktop, all you need to do is enter one command:

xfconf-query -c xfce4-session -p /sessions/Failsafe/Client0_Command -t string -sa i3

this command replaces xfwm4 with i3.

Final step: reboot and enjoy i3 + xfce!

Note To get transperency on the terminals, you will need a compositor like Compton installed and configured.

My desktop

Gtop, neofetch and my config file open in vim

htop, neofetch, pfetch, cava, and peaclock all open

A fully functioning whisker menu!

where did my (battery, wifi, bluetooth) icons go? they aren't on my panel!

this happens when i3bar essentially hijacks the xfce notification center and is actually a pretty simple fix, if you don't mind getting rid of the i3 bar, that is. (there's no purpose in having it when i3 is in tandem with xfce anyway.)
Simply comment out the i3bar section in your config file, it should look something like:

Remember to comment out everything in this section, including the curly brackets.

Tell me what you think, did i do a good job explaining?

Share screenshots if you follow this!


xfdesktop is not the window manager, it the program which sets the background, allows to place launchers and other files on the desktop.
xfwm is the window manager.

I'm not sure, but I think this command replace xfwm with i3.

When you log in you select the Xfce4 session, don't you? Not the i3 session?

All in all a good job, not trivial.

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When you log in, you select xfce4

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And thanks!

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Nice guide, you did a great job. :+1:

Two observations:

This is a little bit confusing. The xfce4-i3-workspaces-plugin is a separate plugin for the Xfce panel. It has to be added to the panel - like any other panel plugin - and the build-in Workspace Switcher plugin (or pager) should be removed from the panel as it doesn't provide any functionality.
It would be better to say that the xfce4-i3-workspaces-plugin replaces the build-in Workspace Switcher plugin and that it has to be added to the panel after its installation.

Second observation is somehow related to the screenshots you posted. I think it would be a good idea to mention in the guide that if the user wants transparency in applications, they will have to install a compositor (like Compton for example?), since the build-in compositor of Xfce is part of the Xfce Window Manager (xfwm4) which gets eventually replaced by i3wm in the guide.

Other than that, the guide is pretty straightforward, you did a very good job explaining the needed steps!

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