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Arch Linux How to Install i3 Gaps

Installing i3 gaps is easy on Arch Linux. It generally takes a bit of fiddling around to get this just right but I’m going to cover what worked for me.

Before actually installing anything you should update the database and update the system:

sudo pacman -Syyu

Install i3 gaps:

sudo pacman -S i3-gaps

Install fonts and the status bar:

sudo pacman -S ttf-dejavu i3status

You will need ttf-dejavu for i3 so that text will display correctly. You will Need i3status so that the status bar will work and not show an error message.

NOTE - i3-gaps and i3-wm are different packages. The first is a fork of the second. Install the first one if you want gaps.

If you don’t have it already, you will need X Windows. We cover installing this below. You will also need to either configure i3 to start when you start X Windows with startx or you will need to set up a display manager. We will cover both of these options below.

X Windows Install on Arch Linux

Installing X Windows ( Xorg ) on Arch is easy. It is easy to get confused with all of the different packages available and all of the conflicting advice that people give. Some packages that people recommend installing don’t even exist anymore.

You can install Xorg with this one command ( 3 packages ):

sudo pacman -S xorg xorg-xinit xterm

Here is an explanation of some of the packages you might see people recommending.

xorg includes xorg-server but not xorg-xinit
xorg-server-utils doesn’t exist anymore
xorg-xinit installs: xorg-xinit, inetutils, includes /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
xorg-apps group, everything in it is already included in xorg
xterm You will probably want/need this

If your Arch instance is running on VirtualBox it is a good idea to have thel guest utils installed. This will be completely unnecessary on a physical machine.

pacman -S virtualbox-guest-utlis

You will want/need these. The first two are just extras/toys but xterm is pretty important in my opinion.

pacman -S xorg-xeyes xorg-xclock xterm

Install Drivers

You might find that you need video drivers. Depending on what hardware you are running, install the driver for your system. You might not need these at all. It is possible that your system will work completely OK out of the box.

sudo pacman -S nvidia nvidia-utils    # NVIDIA 
sudo pacman -S xf86-video-amdgpu mesa   # AMD
sudo pacman -S xf86-video-intel mesa    # Intel

You can install ALSA if you want sound support. You can test ALSA with the speaker-test command and the alsamixer command.

pacman -S alsa-utils
speaker-test -c2

Starting with Xinit ( startx )

Edit your xinitrc file:

nano /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc

Comment these lines out:

#twm &
#exec xterm ....

Add this:

exec i3

Start X Windows with this command:


Absolute basic, essential commands for i3:

[meta][enter]  - open a new terminal
[meta][shift][e] - exit i3

Starting with LightDM

You can install lightdm and the greeter like this:

sudo pacman -S lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter

Enable the service like this:

systemctl enable lightdm

Reboot and you should now have a graphical login:



Some people recommend these two packages:

sudo pacman -S i3blocks
sudo pacman -S polybar