i3 installation in dom0

i3 is part of the testing repository (as of Qubes R3.1) and can be installed from there using the dom0 update mechanism.

$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --enablerepo=qubes-dom0-current-testing i3

Qubes-specific configuation is available in a separate package and can be installed optionally. Otherwise you can write your own configuration (see below).

$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --enablerepo=qubes-dom0-current-testing i3-settings-qubes

That’s it. After logging out, you can select i3 in the login manager.

Compilation and installation from source

Note that the compilation from source is done in a Fedora based domU (could be dispvm). The end result is always an .rpm that is copied to dom0 and then installed through the package manager.

Getting the code

Clone the i3-qubes repository here:

$ git clone https://github.com/SietsevanderMolen/i3-qubes.git

In this case, the most interesting file is probably i3/0001-Show-qubes-domain-in-non-optional-colored-borders.patch It’s the patch with changes that are necessary to make i3 work nicely with Qubes OS. The code should not need much explanation, it just gets the vmname and label from Qubes OS and changes some defaults so the user can’t override decisions.

If you want to make any changes to the package, this is the time and place to do it.


You’ll need to install the build dependencies, which are listed in build-deps.list. You can verify them and then install them with

$ sudo dnf install -y $(cat build-deps.list)

This used to be more complicated, but I finally redid this and use the same buildsystem that’s used by Qubes OS for XFCE. It’s just a Makefile that helps you get the sources and start off the build:

$ make rpms


Warning: Manually installing software in dom0 is inherently risky, and the method described here circumvents the usual security mechanisms of qubes-dom0-update.

You should now have your i3 rpm in ./rpm/x86_64/i3-4.8-3.fc20.x86_64.rpm. Protip: copying this file to ~/i3.rpm now will save you some typing in the next step.

Now in dom0, copy in the rpm:

$ qvm-run --pass-io <src_domain> 'cat </path/to/rpm_in_src_domain>' > i3.rpm

Now that the rpm is in dom0 we can proceed with installing it. i3 has some dependencies that we can easily install with:

$ sudo qubes-dom0-update perl-AnyEvent-I3 xorg-x11-apps \\
    rxvt-unicode xcb-util-wm perl-JSON-XS xcb-util-cursor \\
    dzen2 dmenu xorg-x11-fonts-misc libev

After that you can just install the generated rpm like any other local package

$ sudo yum localinstall i3.rpm

Log out, select i3, then log in again.