CentOS 7 + i3wm Quickstart Guide

Most commands will need to be ran with super user permissions. Just prepend with sudo if any permissions errors occur.

Download CentOS 7

Download the preferred version of CentOS. I suggest the “Everything” version for this tutorial.

Install CentOS 7

Begin the installation process like any other Linux installation. Either through USB or Virtual Machine.

Installation is rather simple. I suggest the following configuration when reaching the Software Selection screen:

Basic Web Server > Backup Client
                   Debugging Tools
                   Directory Client
                   Language Support
                   Security Tools
                   Any preferred languages

Cent OS Software Selction

If one prefers not to have i3wm and would like to just use CentOS 7 with either KDE or Gnome from this point, they should feel free to select Development and Creative Workstation instead of Basic Web Server in the first pane and choose their preferred GUI/Window Manager now. Otherwise, continue on for a simple i3wm quickstart guide.

After choosing software, continue the installation as normal. Set a root password, setup a new administrator user, and finish. Once rebooted and logged in as the new user, we can begin setting things up and installing i3wm.

Setup network

This is necessary to communicate with the outside world, which we need to do in order to install software packages. Follow instructions at krizna. The first three steps under GUI Mode are all that are necessary.

Add Required Repositories

Run these commands in order to install the two extra package repositories we need.

EPEL 7 Repository:

$ su -c 'rpm -Uvh'

coprs Repository:

$ yum install -y dnf dnf-plugins-core
$ sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo

Install Xorg

Use groupinstall to ensure we get everything we need.

$ yum groupinstall "X Window System" "Desktop" "Desktop Platform"

Install lightdm

lightdm is a lightweight package that will allow for a login screen

$ yum install lightdm xorg-x11-xinit-session

Install i3wm

Install i3wm along with i3status and lilyterm just to get us started. LilyTerm is a lightweight terminal emulator. i3 does not come with one.

$ yum install dejavu-sans-fonts dejavu-sans-mono-fonts dejavu-serif-fonts i3 i3status lilyterm

Start GUI manually

Start the GUI manually from command line using the following command:

$ systemctl isolate

You should be greeted with a login screen.

CentOS Login Screen

You may need to manually select i3 from the settings menu in the top right before logging in.

CentOS i3 Selection

Once logged in, i3 should be ready to go!

Start GUI automatically

All that needs to happen in order for the GUI to start automatically at startup is for this command to be ran:

$ systemctl set-default

Optional packages for customizing i3wm

For more customization, I suggest installing the following packages.

py3status is used for customizing the status bar further.

$ yum install py3status

feh is used to customize the background for i3wm.

$ yum install feh