Using i3 in Ubuntu MATE

Here are the steps I’ve taken to set up the i3 window manager in my Ubuntu MATE desktop environment, based on MATE.

I have used this with Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and 17.04.

Step 1: Install i3

# apt install i3-wm i3status

Step 2: Set window manager

$ dconf write /org/mate/desktop/session/required-components/windowmanager "'i3'"
$ dconf write /org/mate/desktop/session/required-components/panel "''"
$ dconf write /org/mate/desktop/session/required-components/filemanager "''"

If you would like to use the MATE panel with i3 you can, just leave the panel setting with the default.

Step 3: Log in again

Log out and then log in again. Unless you have an i3 configuration already, the i3 configuration wizard will be started.


I contributed a theme to i3-style called mate, to match the default theme of Ubuntu MATE.

As my application launcher I use Rofi, which understands .desktop files.

For my entire i3 configuration, see my configuration repository on GitHub.

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