i3 + Plasma: using the i3 window manager on the top of KDE Plasma and other dotfiles, configurations, scripts, workarounds and practises from my Debian machines.

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  • Updated at: 2020-03-12 15:06:07


Here you can find the configuration files and a detailed guide to use the i3 window manager on the top of KDE Plasma desktop environment.

...as always: If this eats your cat or starts a global thermonuclear war, you are on your own.


Full screenshots gallery



Each folder is named after a package and contains every configuration file used by that application. Besides some noted exceptions, the files inside the folders are relative to home (e.g. the file vim/.vimrc goes to ~/.vimrc).

Every section here explains which settings and (if any) workarounds/fixes are used to obtain the described result.

For further reference, read carefully every section in this file, and copy only the configuration files relative to the parts you are trying to setup.

If something still doesn't work as expected, check:

If none of these helped, feel free to open an issue here. Include your distro informations and the configuration values you are trying.


  • OS: Debian GNU/Linux sid
  • DE: Plasma
    • Workspace theme: Breeze
    • Desktop theme: Arc T
    • Icon Theme: Papirus-Dark
    • Widget Style: Breeze
    • GTK theme: Breeze, monokai-gtk
  • Windows manager: i3-gaps
  • Login Manager: SDDM
  • Compositor: picom
  • Terminal emulator: alacritty
  • Launcher: rofi


FontAwesome, wmctrl, feh.

Login Manager

SDDM, breeze2-sddm-theme, San Francisco Display.


X, Plasma, i3, compton

i3 + Plasma integration

I'm using KDE Plasma as Desktop Environment + i3-gaps as (tiling) Windows Manager. Without having to use patches to either i3 or KDE - just with some tuning - everything works out of the box, including:

  • the Pager widget (which correctly reads and lets you switch i3 workspaces)
  • the Icons-only Task Manager (~dock) widget (opens for you the corresponding workspace when clicking an icon)
  • other plasmashell widgets and popups
  • multiple displays
  • everything offered by i3 (including window focusing, shortcuts and mouse-related things)

You will still use the Plasma session with startx, so set your login manager accordingly.

350 MB base RAM consumption, compositor included.

Please note that i3 will replace KWin completely, so you won't have titlebars and every other compositing/animation feature offered by a standard Plasma installation.

Disabling the Plasma Desktop and the Plasma Wallpaper

The Plasma wallpaper is rendered at the top, hiding everything. Disable the autostart of ksplashqml:

sudo mv /usr/bin/ksplashqml /usr/bin/ksplashqml.old

Finally, in the i3 configuration we use wmctrl to kill the Plasma desktop view:

exec --no-startup-id wmctrl -c Plasma
for_window [title="Desktop — Plasma"] kill; floating enable; border none

i3 Urgent workspace feature

A possible solution, in the i3 configuration:

force_display_urgency_hint 0 ms
focus_on_window_activation urgent

See #13.


The wallpaper is set with feh in the i3 configuration, as startup command.

Glitched tooltips

If you notice something like this, compton maybe the problem, try disabling the fade effect:

wintypes :
	tooltip : 
#    fade = true;
	 shadow = false;
	 opacity = 0.75;
	 focus = true;

Status Bar

It's a fully transparent Plasma panel, themed with the Arc T desktop theme. The awesome-widgets plasmoid shows the following content:

<div align="right" style="color:#ffffff; font-family:'Helvetica Neue'; font-size:12pt;">$hddfreegb0G&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$cpu%&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$memgbG&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$temp0 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; $custom1</div>

Where $custom1 runs bat.sh. Depends on FontAwesome.


Rofi (themed in X/.Xresources), started in i3 with bindsym $mod+d exec --no-startup-id i3-dmenu-desktop --dmenu='rofi -i -dmenu -width 40 -lines 8 -font "San Francisco Display 18"'.


Font rendering settings are in the X folder. Typefaces in bold are in my current setup, while the others are appreciated alternatives I like to periodically switch to.

Sans Serif, UI:

  • Helvetica Neue
  • IBM Plex Sans
  • San Francisco Display
  • Inter

Monospaced, text editors and shells:

  • SF Mono
  • Monaco
  • Hack
  • Input
  • Iosevka


  • Libre Baskerville


xcompmgr, compton and picom have been tested to work flawlessly on this setup.


System notifications are handled by Plasma. If you don't see them correctly, check if you have another notification daemon installed (e.g. dunst which comes as recommended package for i3 in some distros).


Terminal Emulator


Color Scheme

SpaceGray Eighties



Framework: oh-my-fish, theme: bobthefish.


Add-ons: Greasemonkey, Decentraleyes, uBlock Origin, CanvasBlocker.

The entire detailed configuration of the browser is in User.js, with settings to improve privacy, limit tracking and fingerprinting, disable unwanted features (based on pyllyukko/user.js and ghacks-user.js).

Sublime Text 3

Keyboard shortcuts

A non-exhaustive cheatsheet on using this setup with the keyboard:


$mod is the Windows key, in this setup.

$mod + ..


  • startx i3 start i3 from command line
  • <Enter> open a terminal
  • d open program launcher (Rofi)
  • r resize mode (<Esc> or <Enter> to leave resize mode)
  • shift + e exit i3
  • shift + r restart i3 in place
  • shift + c reload config file
  • shift + q kill window (does normal close if application supports it)
  • x move the workspace to another xrandr display


  • w tabbed layout
  • e vertical and horizontal layout (switches to and between them)
  • s stacked layout
  • f fullscreen

Moving Windows

  • shift + <direction key> Move window in direction (depends on direction keys settings)


The tmux meta key is A or B in secondary machines.

  • tmux start new
  • tmux new -s myname start new with session name
  • tmux a attach
  • tmux a -t myname attach to named
  • tmux ls list sessions
  • tmux kill-session -t myname kill session

CTRL + A then:


  • : new session
  • s list sessions
  • $ name session

Windows (tabs)

  • c create window
  • w list windows
  • n next window
  • p previous window
  • f find window
  • , name window
  • & kill window

Panes (splits)

  • % vertical split
  • " horizontal split
  • o swap panes
  • q show pane numbers
  • x kill pane
  • + break pane into window (e.g. to select text by mouse to copy)
  • - restore pane from window
  • - space toggle between layouts
  • q show pane numbers, when the numbers show up type the key to goto that pane
  • { move the current pane left)
  • } move the current pane right)
  • z toggle pane zoom


  • d detach
  • t big clock
  • ? list shortcuts
  • : prompt


  • jj normal mode


Panorama Tab Groups

  • Alt + x panorama view
  • Alt + w next tab group
  • Alt + q previous tab group



My machines run on Debian Sid/unstable.

This is not a good solution if you don't know what the previous statement means or if you want a stable system and aren't prepared to fix things.



  • vpn.sh - Connect to Juniper based VPN service
  • template.tex - Template for my LaTex + Pandoc workflow
  • teamviewer.sh - Using teamviewer without wasting resources
  • backupperino.sh - Backup, encrypt and upload to Dropbox/VPS
  • avd.sh - Starting android emulators with (working) HW acceleration
  • mount.sh - sshfs preset (mounts remote folder as local filesystem, over ssh)
  • powersettings.sh - Disable things on battery, and the other way round on AC
  • bat.sh - Renders battery icon, percentage, charging and AC indicators in status bar. Executed by awesome-widgets.
  • vbox.sh - Prepares the system and updates the VirtualBox Guest Additions
  • sublimeupdate.py - (Python3) Checks if a new Sublime Text 3 version is available and installs it (deprecated).
  • update.sh - Update the system (APT, npm -g)