Install I3 on OpenBSD

By Ronald Valente. Published

In this post I will be going over the i3wm setup I have on my OpenBSD development/admin machine. If you need to setup an OpenBSD machine, you can follow my Install OpenBSD post.

Note: In this post I remove all X components from the install, so skip that step if this will be a dev machine and you want a UI.


First, lets install i3

doas pkg_add i3


Now, create an .i3status.conf file in your homedir.

You can either use the default, located here /usr/local/share/examples/i3status/i3status.conf. Or write your own, using the i3status.conf as a starting point.

Now, Create your ~/.xinitrc to start i3 when X starts.

echo "i3" > ~/.xinitrc

Terminal Emulator

If you want to use something other than xterm then I recommend urxvt. Start off by installing rxvt-unicode.

pkg_add rxvt-unicode

Now let's tell i3 to use urxvt instead of xterm

--- i3old       Sun Aug 19 14:08:00 2018
+++ i3new       Sun Aug 19 14:08:07 2018
@@ -30,7 +30,7 @@
 floating_modifier $mod

 # start a terminal
-bindsym $mod+Return exec /usr/X11R6/bin/xterm
+bindsym $mod+Return exec /usr/local/bin/urxvt

 # kill focused window
 bindsym $mod+Shift+q kill

Now, when you run startx you UI will start and prompt you the first time for a couple configuration options. Congratulations, you now have i3 running with urxvt!