I welcomed yesterday’s release of i3 4.3 with excitement. Having been busy elsewhere, I did not follow the ‘next’ branch of i3 git repository and, therefore, was not aware of what’s cooking. The moment I started building a new shiny package, my excitement somewhat subsided.
Version 4.3 introduces pango support for rendering text, which would be a great news if not for the fact that an XCB backend support was still an experimental feature (and, therefore, disabled by default) in cairo 1.10.2, the version that Slackware (14rc5) ships with. In consequence, for i3 >= 4.3 to build on Slackware, one would have to upgrade the stock cairo package. The XCB backend has apparently reached a stable status and is enabled by default in cairo version 1.12.2+. As always, Pat is the person to decide whether it is mature enough for Slackware. Hopefully, it is and it’ll enter the -current branch of Slackware in the next development cycle. (Update: See Pat’s comments on the issue).
An alternative solution (which I have chosen) was to disable pango support in i3 4.3. As this feature is an integral part of i3wm 4.3, disabling it is not recommended by Michael Stapelberg, i3 author and main developer (4.3 release notes):
Another very important change is that we now support pango for rendering text. The default is still to use misc-fixed (X core fonts), but you can use a font specification starting with “xft:” now, such as “xft:DejaVu Sans Mono 10” and i3 will use pango. The sole motivation for this is NOT to have fancier window decorations, but to support fonts which have more glyphs (think Japanese for example) and to support right-to-left rendering (open http://www.ftpal.net/ for an example). Supporting users from all over the planet is important, and as such I would strongly advise distribution packagers to leave pango support enabled. In case you are working on a very low-spec embedded device, it is easy enough to disable pango support, see common.mk.
Personally I do not need it so am going to run 4.3 (pango disabled) until cairo gets upgraded in Slackware (I’m not in a hurry:)). You can do the same but don’t say you haven’t been warned!!!
Here is my SlackBuild script for i3 v 4.3 (pango disabled). Please note that I pointed it to the master branch of i3’s git repository which basically is the latest stable release + bug fixes, which at the moment of writing is 4.3. Should a new version be released, eg. 4.4, the script will automatically pull it from the git repository. Unlike with standard SlackBuilds there’s no need to manually download the source code.
Feel free to use it but bear in mind that, at the moment of writing it, a recommended version of i3 to be run on Slackware is i3 4.2 which is available from SlackBuilds.org so if you don’t like living on the edge, please stop reading now and stay with 4.2!
Now for the fun part.
Apart from the above mentioned pango support (which we have disabled) there are lots of bug fixes and some new features available with this release. I particularly like the ability to specify the layout for the parent split container:
When I start i3 both Firefox and Thunderbird start on Window 2. Up until now it was not possible (or easy) to make them automatically open in a tabbed mode. This ensures that Window 2 (and only 2) starts in a tabbed mode.
assign [class="Thunderbird"] 2
for_window [class="Firefox"] layout tabbed
In 4.3 you can still use the old “split h” and “split v” commands. On top of that, the old “layout default” command has been replaced with “layout toggle split”, which changes the orientation (horizontal/vertical) of windows. If you have an old config file, find “layout default” and change it to “layout toggle split”. On my system it’s bound to “Mod1+e”. Open a few terminal windows and play with this command changing the focused window from time to time.